Look at the sky – Is it a bird? A plane? No, it’s a new Scribblenauts game, featuring a host of characters from the world of DC Comics, along with a lot of imagination, adventure, and a hearty dose of fun.
Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure is 5th Cell’s latest offering in the series, with the distinction of being the first game based on a licensed series. The premise is fairly simple, Maxwell and his sister Lily love comics, but fight over who is the better superhero (Batman or Superman, respectively). Like any children with enchanted objects would do, they decide to use Lily’s globe – that can take them anywhere – to travel to Gotham City and find out for themselves. Something goes wrong however, and it’s up to Maxwell to find out what it means to be a hero – and to face his own dark side.
Any doubts about the crossover being gimmicky or contrived are unfounded, as the worlds combine to a near perfect fit. The title appeals to both the casual comics enthusiast and the hardcore DC fan, all while remaining kid (and big kid) friendly. The DC Comics universe provides a huge platform for the adventures of lovable, rooster-headed, boy wonder Maxwell, and manages to seamlessly integrate two established franchises together through an appropriately adorable, yet relatively simple, storyline.
Admirably, Scribblenauts manages to combine their traditional format with the expansive DC Comics Universe to great effect. As with previous Scribblenauts titles, you are able to conjure up whatever you desire using Maxwell’s magic notebook, and alter the state of anything by adding adjectives. As you travel between the different settings of the DC Universe, including Metropolis, Atlantis and the Fortress of Solitude, you’re faced with random encounters and story quests which require imagination and creativity to solve. Due to the tie-in with DC Comics, your imagination now includes an enormous database of past and present DC characters and associated items. You want to wield a sword made of Kryptonite? You got it. Need a Batarang? Have five. Want to assemble the Justice League? The only choice you’ll need to make is between the multitude of Superman’s at your disposal.
Having a detailed knowledge of the DC Universe is not required, but certainly beneficial, as more points (or reputation) can be gained through use of your knowledge to create DC specific solutions to problems. Special challenges are regularly issued by DC trickster, Mr Mxyzptlk, after loading the area, and these are sometimes highly DC specific or limiting, but the additional reputation can be well worth it.
However, while the game provides a sandbox platform to let your imagination run wild, the game lacks goals and direction, aside from the very basic, ‘Find the Starites’ overarching story. The randomised encounters in each world end up feeling more like mini games, rather than a puzzle adventure, and the lack of a linear path means seemingly endless running around which sometimes becomes more tedious than engaging in lengthier gaming sessions. In this way, the game lends itself to smaller session playthroughs, not only for the short format puzzle gameplay, but also to allow the imagination to rest.
Visually, the game is appealing, retaining the cute and cartoony Scribblenauts style that fans of the series have come to identify with the titles. Considering that the game has incorporated 2,300 characters and items from the DC universe, and drawn and animated them in the Scribblenauts style, it’s a highly impressive feat, adding to the crossover appeal of the game. The soundtrack is relatively basic, but appropriately atmospheric.
Ultimately, Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure is not so much a game as it is a sandbox in which imagination and a love for the DC Universe combine and run wild. The storyline in the game is perhaps one of the least important parts of the game, and while it does provide some structure, the real fun is in pitting heroes against villains, argyle gargoyles against Commissioner Gordon, seeing if Mr Freeze can stand up to Lana Lang with a flamethrower, and putting together all 6 pages of Batman variants on a Gotham Cuty rooftop together. So for the casual fan, you’ll get to while away a few fun hours, but for the consummate DC fan, all your fantasies are merely a scribble away.
Huge database of DC Comics Universe characters and items to create and use.
Unique DC feel, while retaining that Scribblenauts look and appeal
Great addition to any DC fan’s collection.
Storyline is simple and lacking in impact.
Random encounters can get tedious in protracted play sessions.
You’ll probably get more out of it if you have a good DC knowledge.
Written by Miranda Nelson