Review | Scribblenauts Unmasked (Nintendo 3DS)

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Scribblenauts has expanded from nouns to adjectives, and continues to expand its vocabulary in the same manner of a common school kid. This time, however, Scribblenauts takes a surprising turn and adds a whole factor – the DC Universe.

Scribblenauts Unmasked takes the series’ lead characters and throws them into the massive DC Universe, where their iconic traveling globe breaks and releases the Starites powering it into the hands of some of the Justice League’s fiercest foes. Alongside them, a Doppelganger version of Maxwell appears and is assisting these villains to gather the Starites for a final villain that most DC fans can probably predict. The story is very basic, yet still feels like it could fit alongside other comic book stories today.

After jumping into the universe, players are tasked with solving random puzzles in iconic DC locations such as Arkham Asylum, Oa, and plenty more. Each location usually brings with it a main story mission and several random puzzles that change each load up. Players start in Gotham before advancing into Metropolis. After a while, however, reputation points must be earned before advancements can be made into other iconic locations. These range from the simplest of puzzles to more difficult ones that may require a player to have some sort of knowledge on obscure DC characters.

With a main story that lasts about 7-8 hours, players can return to the various worlds to complete the optional puzzles that appear randomly. Acquiring reputation points in doing those missions allow for unlocking some of the various collectibles in the game, such as costumes based on the more popular heroes and villains. These costumes give Maxwell super powers he can’t obtain through gameplay, such as heat vision, enhanced strength and the such. These costumes can be unlocked while playing through the main story as well to aid in what is already a fairly simple campaign.

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One of the more interesting unlocks available in the game is the Origin Story missions. These are unlocked for 1500 Reputation Points each and feature the Justice League members telling their origin story to Maxwell as he is required to construct images to advance each story forward. Knowing each character’s origin alone made it interesting, but having to create an object that stands for each Lantern Corps to tell the critically acclaimed Black Lantern story arc was absolutely fun. (Fun Fact: Geoff Johns and Jim Lee can actually be created in the game, as well.)

Another addition to the game that adds replay value is the inclusion of restrictions set by one of Superman’s arch enemies – Mr. Mxyzptlk. This imp will sometimes ask a player at the start of the level if they want to set up restrictions, such as requiring the usage of only words that begin with the letter ‘N.’ While these can net you double reputation points, I found that I rarely took these challenges as they can lock out certain puzzles and make the virtually impossible to complete.

The game packs over 2,000 of DC’s famous and obscure heroes, villains, and objects, and that makes up most of the game’s entertainment value. As a DC Comics fan, typing in some of DC’s most obscure characters and seeing them appear was surprisingly entertaining. Between seeing extremely old characters like Composite Superman come up and the torn-face New 52 Joker being a part of the game, I found myself excited at the amount of care put into creating this game that celebrates DC’s history. While some characters were missing, it’s a rare occurrence unless you know that much about DC’s expansive backlog.

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Scribblenauts Unmasked also looks incredibly adorable. The DC heroes bear a perfect resemblance to their “real-life” counterpart, yet still bear that cute Scribblenauts design. Even edgier characters like Doomsday and Atrocitus can’t help but share the same “aww” factor found in the hero characters. However, it is worth noting that the game does experience some severe framrate drops when things get hectic on the screen. These dips have happened on numerous occasions, and during main story missions at that.

While the game is also available for the PC and Wii U, the only version I managed to get my hands on was the Nintendo 3DS version. While each version is almost exactly the same, one of the most interesting looking features was missing from the 3DS version – Hero Creator. After looking at videos of how this works (Superaqua Flash?!), it seemed incredibly cool to use and could have added a lot more of a fun factor into an already decent game. The fact that it is missing from the 3DS version is a huge let down.

Final Comments

Scribblenauts fans are surely to pick this one up for the name alone, but this time DC loyalists may see themselves gripping their Nintendo 3DS systems to explore a popular universe with the power of imagination in your hands. The game tells a simple yet entertaining story alongside popular Justice League characters. While the game can dip a few times, it still looks and plays great. The fun can die down a bit after completion, but the journey and massive library of DC history is alone worth the purchase. It’s just a shame the interesting hero creator didn’t make it to the 3DS version.

The Good

  • An entertaining story
  • Plenty of unlockable power costumes and fun Origin Story missions
  • The massive DC Comics catalog celebrates the history perfectly
  • Looks great, DC characters more adorable than ever

The Bad

  • Rather short, not too much replayability
  • Mr. Mxyzptlk challenges don’t always work
  • Frequent framerate dips
  • Lack of Hero Creator

7/10