'Scribblenauts Unmasked' - review

Wednesday, 02 October 2013 12:00 PM Written by 

ScribblenautsUnmaskedThe “Scribblenauts” series has always been about open-endedness. The lead character Maxwell has his notebook that can create virtually anything just by writing the object in its pages, and you harness its power. It made sense that the series partnered with a pop culture giant that has its own rich universe: DC Comics. Now anything from Batman’s Batarang to six different versions of Green Lantern can be summoned from the pages of Maxwell’s notebook. While this is a dream for the hardest of hardcore DC fans, it alienates anyone who isn’t.

The “Scribblenauts” structure remains the same as previous installments in the series. The goal is to collect all of the Starites. Maxwell, and DC’s cast of heroes are on the hunt for these magical instruments. Meanwhile, Maxwell’s evil doppelganger and the fearsome DC rogue gallery are hungry for the Starites’ power, too. It’s up to Maxwell to clean up the DC worlds in this classic battle of heroes versus villains.

Each area is set in a different DC setting. Gotham’s zone is split into different areas like the city, Arkham Asylum, and Joker’s Funhouse. Metropolis is another set of levels including the Fortress of Solitude and downtown Metropolis. The third group contains the rest of the DC leftovers like OA, Center City, and Themyscira.

Each area has one mission that earns a Starite. Other smaller puzzles are randomly generated. These puzzles are presented by townspeople, or more often by a wide array of DC characters. Solving these puzzles earns reputation. Reputation can be used to unlock new areas. Revisiting areas spawns new puzzles, but the Starite missions are a “one and done” deal in each zone.

The DC character Mxyzptlk adds his mystical antics by adding a new wrinkle to the “Scribblenauts” formula. He will appear when revisiting an area to present an obstacle to make puzzles in that area more difficult. For example, Maxwell will only be able to create things that start with a specific letter, or he won’t be able to use adjectives. As if the game wasn’t challenging enough, these Mxyzptlk challenges make the puzzles so hard to the point that it’s not even worth the double reputation it yields.

Scribblenauts

“Scribblenauts Unmasked” is difficult if you’re not a DC Comics junky. I consider myself a comic book geek. I know more about Batman lore than any other superhero. Sadly, I don’t come anywhere close to knowing enough to get the most out of this game. This is a major hindrance when trying to solve the game’s puzzles. Often times I'll need to summon a character’s friend, or weapon, or enemy. This is an impossible feat if I don’t even know what character I’m looking at. To give you an idea of the scope of this game, there are 34 different versions of Batman that can be summoned. That’s just one character. Think of the rest of the DC squad and all of their different iterations throughout the years.

Having such a deep bench makes the Hero Creator a neat addition. The hero creator allows you to mix and match different parts and abilities to create your very own characters. Like much of the game, this will appeal to the major DC fans.

Because of the enormity of "Unmasked's" glossary, there's serious replay value that comes with the $60 price tag. If you're a DC Comics expert, finding new ways to solve puzzles will be enjoyable even after the story is complete. Attempting to stump the game with obscure characters provides a fun meta-game, too. 

“Scribblenauts Unmasked” is an ambitious title that pairs two very different worlds. Blending the cartoonish world of “Scribblenauts” and the gritty DC Universe somehow works. But “Unmasked” is much more of a game for DC fans than it is geared towards “Scribblenauts” fans. Those who aren’t familiar with DC’s deep lore won’t get much out of the experience. Those who are will have a blast.

 

8.25 out of 10

Pros:

Ridiculously huge cast of DC characters
Good blend of cartoonish and gritty

Cons:

Alienates those who aren't fans of DC
More for DC fans than Scribblenaut fans

 

 

 Release Date   8/24/2013  
 Rated  E 10+
 Platform  Wii U (reviewed), 3DS, PC  
 Price  $59.99
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