Scribblenauts Unmasked marks the return of the Scribblenauts series to the Wii U, bringing along with it the entirety of the DC Comics Universe to explore. This game is a dream come true for comic fans, but if you’re looking for the traditional puzzling action that attracted you to the original Nintendo DS titles, you’ll have to endure the comic book story overlay.
Maxwell and his sister Lily teleport into the DC Comics universe and end up with a broken globe and scattered starites, meaning you’ll have to do battle with several DC villains in order to get them back and get Maxwell and Lily to safety. Along the way you meet several DC super heroes who enlist your help, including Batman, Superman, the Green Lantern, and others.
Several iconic DC Comics locations are the setting for Maxwell’s quest in finding the lost starites and there are a series of mini-tasks and actual story quests that will reward you with starites. Sometimes the mini-tasks feel tacked on, but Scribblenauts Unmasked does a good job of rewarding creativity with adjectives and nouns by enlisting a 50% penalty reputation reward for reusing the same words.
As you delve into the game, you’ll find that Maxwell has a huge arsenal of weapons at his disposal, some better than others. The combat in the game is pretty generic and highly dependent on the tools you give Maxwell and even then, it’s mostly just a case of running at whatever you want to kill and pressing the B button. You’ll get reputation points for using different words to complete objectives, so giving Maxwell a flamethrower repeatedly isn’t rewarded, but even still you could get away with a repeated combo of knife, machete, kukri, and sword and not be docked.
The reputation system is attributed to the game as a hero’s need to be unique, as described by Batman during the few opening scenes. You’ll earn reputation based on the unique words and adjectives you use to complete objectives in the game, but you’ll also lose reputation points should you happen to die and need to respawn. Completing quests rewards enough reputation that it doesn’t feel like too much of a penalty.
Maxwell can also jump between several locations to help avoid the reputation penalty, so if you’ve already used a rope in a particular level and you’re stuck, just jump to a different location in the universe and hammer away at that for a while. The puzzles in between the starite missions are a bit tedious and I wish there were more than the basic, ‘solve this problem for me’ tidbits that seem to carry over from the original DS versions of the game.
Graphics & Audio
The DC Comics universe is faithfully recreated in Scribblenauts style, which is a real treat for fans of the comic series. The traditional comic battling onomatopoeia are present, along with the signature BAM! POW! SLAM! exclamations during combat. It’s a unique feel to the game that lets you feel as though you’re actually in the universe.
Everything is presented in comic book style with very big attention to detail given to all the characters available. Simply typing Batman or Green Lantern in your notebook will bring up several options, as you can summon the many different iterations of these heroes throughout their lengthy comic book history.
The Wii U-exclusive offline multiplayer mode of Scribblenauts Unlimited returns in Scribblenauts Unmasked, which allows up to four players to take a Wii Remote and control objects from the game. It’s interesting to see other players be able to possess the heroes you’ve spawned in and it has a bit more functionality than the Scribblenauts Unlimited implementation, but it’s still just a novelty rather than something you’d want to experience with multiple people.
Wii U Features
Marking its return from the Scribblenauts Unlimited game is the character creator, where you can create any number of heroes or villains and add them to the game. This takes the form of the Batcomputer in the Batcave, where you can choose to create a new super hero, or perhaps mimic one from the Marvel universe should you decide you want to play around with Wolverine or Spider Man.
The TV is practically pointless for the game, since the touch features of the game require you to look at the GamePad for most of the game. It’s nice if you want other people to be able to watch you while playing, but I found that playing on the GamePad was sufficient enough that I didn’t even really experiment much with playing on the TV.
Overall, the story arc of the game is worth experiencing if you’re a Scribblenauts fan. It’s even better if you’re a fan of DC Comics. Starite missions are fun and varied and the storylines that progress are worth experiencing, but the filler missions as you move from story to story are a bit bland. This is a complaint that has been leveled at the Scribblenauts series since its inception on the original Nintendo DS and it’s a shame that 5th Cell hasn’t found a way to spice up these bits yet.
I loved the attention to detail with the Batcomputer and the ability to spawn in just about every villain and superhero from the DC Universe. It’s obvious this was a labor of love for the developers and it’s one that fans of both Scribblenauts and DC Comics can appreciate. You just shouldn’t go into this one expecting combat to be satisfying, since you’re primarily a wordsmith along for the ride in the universe.
+ Batcomputer has a comprehensive list of villains and heroes
+ Create your own villains and superheroes as you see fit
+ Story missions are fun and varied
+ The overall comic book feel of the game is superb
– Combat is woefully boring, even with different items
– The mini-missions of the game are boring
– No real incentive to play on the TV beyond multiplayer mode