The latest entry in the Scribblenauts franchise features a deep partnership with the DC Comics universe. Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure places Maxwell, the rubber glove hat wearing wordsmith, in some of DC’s most well defined worlds such as Gotham, Metropolis, and Oa. Thanks to the malfunction of Lily’s (Max’s sister) world-travelling globe, the pair get stuck in the DC universe where they must defeat Maxwell’s evil dopplganger. This shady character is aiding some of DC’s most infamous villains in securing starites from the broken magical globe, which Maxwell and Lily need to collect to return to their own world. Along the way they can enlist the help of a wide variety of DC Comics characters, which is the true gem of this highly creative title.
Just like the other Scribblenauts games players are tasked with using their imaginations and a stylus to dream up nouns and adjectives to be implemented into the game world. Each of Unmasked’s 12 levels consist of various puzzles that must be solved using your brain power, and not your button mashing skills. If you need a boost in battle you can select Maxwell and add an adjective to him such as “big”, or “invincible”, and he will physically change based on your commands. The same practice can be instituted on NPC characters as well to help solve puzzles, or to beef up your support forces during the game’s quasi boss battles.
In addition to adjectives Maxwell can also call any noun based object into the game such as weapons, utilities, and even other characters and living things. If you want a bazooka, just type it in and you’ll be presented with a bazooka. If you want mortars, you can have mortars. The possibilities are nearly limitless, so you truly are only shackled by what you can create with your own imagination, and in the case of Unmasked, your grasp of the DC Comics universe.
This is where Unmasked shines thanks to the staggering back catalog of DC universe characters that it contains. The comics giant licensed even the most obscure characters into this game, so half of the fun is just looking through all of the different characters to see just how well you truly know the world of DC Comics. If you need the help of the Dark Knight you simply have to type in Batman, from there the game’s Batcomputer database will present you with over 30 different variations of the character to choose from. That scenario is similar with most of the major DC characters, but there’s also a ton of random obscure characters that you may have never known about. At times a deep understanding of the DC universe is required to pass some of the game’s more challenging puzzles, so if you’re not a DC geek, you may find more than a few puzzles that leave you perplexed until you run a Google search.
Unmasked offers an insane amount of replay value thanks to the fact that each level constantly generates new side missions to help you earn more reputation to spend on opening new levels, or unlocking origin stories for the more prominent DC cast members. When you revisit levels you can also accept challenges from Mr. Mxyzptlk who will limit the things you can dream up, effectively making the puzzles that much more challenging. With that being said some of his restrictions involve not using any adjectives, or specific characters, so sometimes the reward for completing his objectives isn’t worth the pain your brain will feel trying to come up with a clever work around.
Due to the nature of Unmasked’s gameplay things do get very repetitive after the first few missions. The puzzles showcase variety, but sometimes they don’t make sense, especially if you don’t know much about the extended DC universe. Even regular puzzles can get confusing thanks to the cryptic messages the NPCs relate to you when they ask for your assistance. Combat is also problematic thanks to Maxwell’s rather weak arsenal of punches and kicks, which usually forces you to make him super sized, or invincible, so he doesn’t die and waste your preciously earned reputation points.
Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure will surely satisfy both fans of the gaming franchise and the DC Comics universe. Its amazing roster of DC characters would make even Jim Lee excited, and the overall creativity it exudes helps to turn its gameplay into a thought based process, rather than a reactive button pressing affair. The puzzles can be downright confusing at times, eliciting feelings of frustration, but overall the game offers many hours of entertainment that can be enjoyed in small doses, especially when played on the 3DS.
Review Statement: The reviewer paid for a 3DS copy of this game for the sake of this review.
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