Published on May 21st, 2014 | by Dembonez193
Review: Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure
Developer: 5th Cell Media
Publisher: WB Games
Systems: Wii U, 3DS, PC
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Maxwell takes his notebook into a DC comic book in Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure, and after a series of unfortunate events, Maxwell finds himself trapped within the DC universe along with his sister Lily. He and Lily must enlist the help of superheroes such as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman (among others) in order to return home. At the same time, they must use their powers to assist the heroes in turn.
How cool would it be to fight alongside your favorite superheroes? Aside from the bullets and knives flying at me, I’d think it’d be pretty neat. That’s essentially the story of Scribblenauts Unmasked as Maxwell and Lily are trapped within the comics due to a broken globe and missing Starites.
The story takes place over a variety of the main heroes’ home locations, so you will always see some new characters with every visit. It’s true. Not only are there THOUSANDS of DC characters ranging from the most popular to the most obscure, the worlds change each time you visit. One trip to Gotham will not have the same layout as the next, and that is certainly one thing that raises this game’s replay factor. On top of that, the characters have different versions of themselves. For instance, if you were to type in “Robin”, you would receive a menu asking if you would like Dick Grayson, Damian Wayne, or just the bird among other variants of “Robin”. It could be overwhelming, but as long as it solves a puzzle, just choose a version you like.
Speaking of solving puzzles, the DC superheroes are MUCH more useful in this game than the Nintendo characters were in Scribblenauts Unlimited. Obviously, this game revolves around them though. The Nintendo characters were like sprinkles on a cupcake. This game, however, will ask you for specific DC characters to complete some puzzles. If you are more of a Scribblenauts fan than a DC fan like me, these types of puzzles could be tricky. However, you have access to a character database at all times meaning that if the game does indeed ask you for someone from a specific group, faction, or league, you can turn to the database to select the appropriate hero or villain. It makes everything a bit more accessible, and it also provides you with information on the character in case you didn’t know!
Furthermore, if you simply are not satisfied with the massive character selection, you could create your own superhero or villain as well! This could be fun, although the superpowers can be a little picky at times. On top of that, it’s difficult to have a character behave the way you want him or her to depending on the base you select. For example, if you wanted a villain based off of an anubis, you would have to select a villain as the base and piece the anubis together as a puzzle. It unfortunately will not respond to heroes and villains the way you would like it to naturally no matter which options you select. This makes character creation a bit limited, but it is there if you need to let your creative juiced flow, and it isn’t just limited to characters either! You can create new items and weapons just like before!
If you are more of a Scribblenauts fan and decide to purchase this simply for completing the current series, then it may be tough to jump in and take on the action sequences. They aren’t difficult, but the action elements of Unmasked take away from what has made Scribblenauts so great since its first release. Where it excels is in the puzzles, and there are far less of those here which means that you will be drawing inspiration from the same places often.
One of the biggest problems with so much action is, while it’s fine during isolated Starite opportunities, it interferes with puzzle opportunities in the overworld. What that means is that while you are trying to solve a puzzle for a random character in Metropolis, a Superman villain may begin shooting at you and the person you are attempting to help. If the patron is killed, then an opportunity to gain more points is lost. This in turn could interfere with your ability to unlock future levels.
Another addition to this game to tie into the DC theme is Mxyzptlk and his odd challenges. This could have been very creative had they not been so random and instead fit the world Maxwell was in. Instead, while some of Mxyzptlk’s challenges allow you to think outside of the box and are actually quite creative, some of his challenges simply prevent you from completing an area. One of the challenges is the “random adjective” challenge where he curses everything with, you guessed it, a random adjective (or 20). This could easily ruin your momentum, especially if everything is hostile, poisoned, dead, explosive, etc. While it’s a pretty fun addition on paper, it just wasn’t executed as well as it could have been.
The story itself is very cute and fits in with Scribblenauts well. While in Unlimited, you learned a little more about Maxwell and Lily, you learn more about Maxwell’s notebook and what it is capable of in Unmasked. There is a story element that I will not go into too much detail about, however I will say that you discover more about why the notebook works the way it does.
In addition to the main story, there are origin stories featuring the majority of the Justice League. These stories dive into the history of each hero from when they were young to what caused them to be who they are now. For Justice League members you may not know a lot about, these could be interesting to check out. Just like any other level, they involve Maxwell helping to complete each origin by providing the characters with items that they need. These contributions make each story interactive and unique.
In order to unlock the origin stories, you must use the Batman, Superman, or Green Lantern “Reputation” (the game’s currency) that is used to unlock every other level. However, these origin stories are severely lopsided. Only two types of currency are used once while the other unlocks everything else. This means, you will have to go back and replay a few levels to unlock every origin story. For this reason, it is good that 5th Cell chose to make it so that each area is randomized per visit. Had it not been designed that way, you would have had to repeat the same puzzles over and over again.
While Unmasked would be a great nostalgia rush for hardcore DC fans, it is missing some elements that made the Scribblenauts games before it so fun to play. On the heels of Unlimited, it certainly had a high bar to reach. Unfortunately, it fell short with new features that were not implemented as well as they could have been. On the other hand, if you have been looking for a more action-based Scribblenauts game that is a break from the puzzles and is constantly changing, by all means, this is the game for you.
If you are interested in watching a playthrough of the game, one can be found here.
+ Massive DC roster
+ Customizations are back
+ Levels change each time you visit adding to the game’s replay factor
– Too much action interfering with level completion
– Mxyzptlk challenges can be as difficult as his name is to pronounce
– Custom heroes/villains may not behave the way you want them to