Michael Leparc On October 23, 2013 at 10:46 am

Scribblenauts Unmasked A DC Comics Adventure LeSuperheroesScribblenauts is a franchise that prides itself in centering its gameplay around the player’s imagination, so it’s interesting to see this latest edition willingly borrow from the decades of storytelling found within DC Comics annals for Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure. There’s a couple of pitfalls in such an undertaking, chiefly in the possibility of undermining the gameplay by handing the player too many crutches in the form of superheroes and their associated powers, but also in not treating the subject matter with the reverence fans expect. 5th Cell manages to escape the latter, at least.

The story unfolds in typical comic book fashion of course, panels and all. Maxwell and his twin sister Lily (introduced in Scribblenauts Unlimited), are having a typical sibling argument about which superhero is the best, and they decide to settle it by combining their powers: the former writing “Gotham City” onto a page of his magic notebook which creates anything he can think of, and the latter using her globe of teleportation to take them there. But to their dismay when they arrive they discover Maxwell’s evil twin, Doppleganger, has come along for the ride, his name having been written on the back of the page our protagonists used. Of course, being evil, Doppleganger has teamed up with all of the DC world’s supervillains to cause chaos using the Starites, which Maxwell and Lily need to get back home at any rate.

In order to gather up these Starites, you must travel throughout the DC universe to spar off against each featured supervillain and his Doppleganger buddy in various scenarios. These are pretty much the highlight of the game as the encounter consists of multiple steps requiring a unique solution for each one, with a real sense of urgency as well to get those creative juices flowing as you struggle for the right things to summon and combine together. Just like in Unlimited, you can also apply adjectives to anything to really expand your options. What’s pretty neat about Unmasked is the depth of the dictionary you have to choose from, besides just about every animal and object and pop reference you could think of, not only can you summon Batman or Robin, you can choose WHICH of the bajillion versions of them you want to call up, and they all really do look different. If you put in Justice League, you get the entire Justice League in one fell swoop.

Unfortunately to progress in the game and unlock a new area (such as Wayne Manor, or Metropolis), not only do you have to clear these fun boss scenarios, you also have to do various disappointingly unimaginative favors for the citizens like hand someone a gun to fight a bad guy or drag something to a specific spot. These tasks pale in comparison to just about anything you’ve done in a previous Scribblenauts game so it’s hard not to feel like the developers didn’t just mail it in. The only challenge you’ll find is avoiding using the same word again to avoid a 50% point penalty or when Mr. Mxyzptlk shows up to tell you that you can only use superheroes or words beginning with the letter D. It’s nice that the game is logically consistent enough that applying the adjective “Kryptonian” to yourself gives you Superman’s powers, but I feel bad because it almost feels like a cheat code by that point. Speaking of powers, unless you’re well versed in every hero’s ability you may find certain requests a stumbling block, and even then some obvious solutions won’t work. For instance a citizen requested the ability to time travel. I tried Superman and Flash, since both have been known to do it before by using their speed or other means, but the ultimate answer was the comparatively obscure Booster Gold, whose main power is in fact time travel. DC fans will have a blast with all their favorite characters though, as it’s hard to think of one the game has overlooked, and the inside jokes and references are sprinkled throughout.

Playing on the Wii U confers a couple advantages over the other versions of Unmasked. First of all is the ability to play on the gamepad, which you might as well do since you’ll be typing on it anyway, and the graphics are nothing to write home about. The other is the ability to create your own heroes to summon using the Batcave computer, so if you wanted to slip in a Marvel character there’s your chance. Other than that there’s not much to say about either the graphics or the sound as it’s pretty much a reskinned version of Scribblenauts Unlimited in that regard, with the sound being understated in particular.
Scribblenauts Unmasked feels much like many a superhero game gone awry, too enamored with its license to pay attention to the fact that something has gone missing from the gameplay outside of the major confrontations. Don’t come into this version expecting the same level of puzzle solving you’ve faced before. This is more of a fan service game than a true successor to the series. Comic book fans may get a real kick out of this at least.


The Scribblenauts Unlimited engine is still here with all the possibilities, but it’s squandered by a series of boring tasks outside of the main story.


Never really the point of the series, but they did a good job of translating the DC universe into something that fits the game.


The lack of voice acting and any real loud effects just makes it feel a bit too quiet for a superhero game.


Kind of falls short of the promise of the whole franchise, but there is a real depth to their use of the license at least.

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