+ Encourages creativity
+ Much needed replayability and challenge
+ Features an impressive catalog of DC Heroes and Villians
+ Colorful and charming
- Somewhat short campaign
- Certain words are still omitted
The Rooster headed boy with the magic notebook is back, and this time – he’s found himself in the DC comic universe in Scribblenauts Unmasked, the fifth game in the Scribblenauts line and its first crossover with DC.
For anyone unfamiliar with Scribblenauts fear not – I’ve got you covered. The game series started back on the Nintendo DS in 2009 and has had much success, due to its unique gameplay which allows you to create anything you can think of — well, almost anything.
The game starts out with Maxwell and his sister, Lily, arguing about what most rooster-headed siblings argue about besides there incorrect head size – which superhero would win in a fight? They decide to settle this by going to their favorite heroes and asking them themselves. Maxwell and Lily combine their powers and head towards Gotham City and upon arrival, discover that they’ve accidentally created an evil doppelganger that has teamed up with some of DC’s most famous super villains — and it’s up to Maxwell and the Heroes of the DC Universe to stop them.
Fans of the series will be on familiar ground here. The gameplay consist of Maxwell wandering familiar DC locales, from Metropolis to Atlantis, helping citizens solve problems in the way of puzzles, which vary from ridiculously easy to maddening. The game does include some neat visual touches to accentuate the game’s comic book style. Dialog and exposition are shown in comic book style text boxes and standard comic book onomatopoeia bounce off characters once hit, accompanied by 60’s batman-esqe sound effects. Heroes and Villains look cute and pleasant, thanks to the games simplistic art style and they all have a unique charm, though I have to admit, I had to really squint to spot the difference between some of these characters.
Before I go on, I wanna come clean and admit that I don’t really like the DC universe too much. Sure, they created Iconic characters like Superman and Batman, but I was always more of a Marvel guy growing up. I always felt like DC characters were too corny, too simple. They couldn’t hold a candle to Marvel’s heroes. But after playing this game, I may be inclined to reconsider. One of the game’s biggest draws is the fact that it’s categorized over 2000 DC characters and items. You could summon almost any character that has ever existed in DC lore. Want Earth-2 Superman? Armored Dark Knight Returns Batman? Golden Age Flash? How about the League of Super Pets? Even obscure characters like Professor Pyg and Arm-Fall-Off boy are available for use. I seriously spent a handful of hours just browsing through the database, reading up on the different histories and bios of characters. The very fun and easy to use Hero Creator is also available fairly early in the game. This allows you to create any sort of hero or object you want and share it with other people. Along with that, the game also boasts a slew of unlockable costumes for Maxwell, as well as unlockable back stories for some of the heroes.
The game also features a sort of reputation system. Maxwell earns reputation points from helping around the city and doing good deeds, however Maxwell can be penalized by rehashing certain words in order to solve puzzles. This is an excellent way of forcing people to be creative in their solutions if they want a large payout. Dr. Mxyzptlk (try saying that three times fast, or any times at all) drops by occasionally, and offers a certain challenge that will make the puzzles harder for a bigger reward. Challenges such as only using adjectives or only being able to summon DC heroes. While this sometimes leads to very interesting, very funny situations, his stipulations sometimes render a puzzle unsolvable. This however is balanced by randomly generated puzzles that appear every time you refresh a level.
By the end of the games somewhat short campaign, I felt like I barely scratched the surface of what Scribblenauts Unmasked can do, and that’s a very good thing. The game packs an enormous amount of content and offers a good bit of replayability and challenge, which I felt the previous installments lacked. Fans of Scribblenauts and DC comics will find plenty to love here and I have to admit — I had more fun than I expected. I think it’s a great addition to anyone’s WiiU collection.