REVIEW: SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED: A DC COMICS ADVENTURE (NINTENDO 3DS)

scribblenauts unmasked 3ds cover

NOTE: ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON COMICBOOKMOVIE.COM 10/04/2013

Arriving less than a year after the last outing in the series, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure infuses the franchise with over 2,000 characters and objects from the expansive DC Universe. The question is though, does the inclusion of the likes of Batman and Superman change or add to the core Scribblenauts experience? The short answer is only kinda.

For those unfamiliar with the franchise, in Scribblenauts you play as Maxwell, a kid in possession of a magic notebook and a large imagination. The player uses this ability to create any item they wish in which to solve a puzzles and problems that generate magical Starites. In Unmasked, Maxwell and his sister Lily (who holds a magic globe) use their combined powers to enter the world of the DC Universe but in the process inadvertently unleashing an evil Doppleganer Maxwell who begins to misuse the Starite power to wreak havoc with popular DC villains. Thus Maxwell and his sister have to team up with the Justice League to reclaim the Starites and restore order to the new world they’ve entered.

scribblenauts unmasked ss1

Throughout Unmasked you’ll venture to such popular DC locations like Gotham City, Metropolis, Atlantis and Oa among others and each comes with a story mission where you’ll have to team up with the designated hero of that area in order to combat their corresponding villain. Every level you enter has a series of small puzzles more in line with past games in the series and for most of the solutions it’s better to use regular items (I.E fire will suffice as opposed to Firestorm) than trying to exercise your DC knowledge (though resurrecting Thomas Wayne when someone is requesting a doctor is awesome). You can bypass these missions at first and go to the story missions, but it pays to do these missions as frequently as possible.

Unmasked is a really short game to complete and is artificially padded with excessive grinding. In order to unlock more areas and complete the main story, you have to obtain a certain number of hero points (the games currency) to allow access to more locations. Sometimes when entering a level you’ll be challenged by Mister Mxyzptlk where restrictions are placed on you such as only being allowed to use adjectives, words that start with a specific letter or DC characters only. These scenarioos help to earn currency faster by doubling all gained rewards points, and there’s no penalty to you should you want to leave the level if the restriction is too crazy (like only being able to create animals). There are a decent amount of puzzles to keep the tedium to a minimum, but after a while you’ll start to see the same problems rear their head and it kills any momentum you gain from completing a proper mission.

This is a shame really, because when you get to the main story missions they are quite fun to play through, represent the best use of the license but also end way to quickly Nothing really quite beats helping Superman take down a Kryptonian Lex Luthor by creating a lead vest and a piece of Kryptonite, or helping Aquaman steal a trident from Ocean Master by sending a thief after him. These parts are not only fun to play, but they also show the developers at 5th Cell have a handle on the characters they’re borrowing. With enough currency you can undertake origin missions for select Justice League members where you’ll have to comfort an orphaned Bruce Wayne, or create a lightning bolt to kick start the Flash’s powers. These parts, much like the story missions, are exceptional as well but they come with the price of taking away currency from the regular game and do not progress the story. 
scribblenauts unmasked ss2
I have no way of testing the other SKU’s of this game, but there was some noticeable slowdown when there was too many characters on screen in the 3DS version. Also in the Aquaman story mission on Atlantis, the story mission failed to trigger correctly leaving me no choice but to look up the solution to the vague hint given.In short bursts, Scribblenauts Unmasked can be a great experience and it’s truly great to be able to play around in the worlds and characters of DC Comics. What I can’t forgive is the hiding of a short game with forced repetition of the games puzzles. During the story and origin missions, the “DC Comics Adventure” subtitle rings true, but maybe if they try this experiment again they can maybe knock off a few Batman’s and provide a meatier experience.
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One thought on “REVIEW: SCRIBBLENAUTS UNMASKED: A DC COMICS ADVENTURE (NINTENDO 3DS)

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