Preview: The DC Comics Universe is at your command with Scribblenauts Unmasked
Over the past few years, Warner Bros. Interactive has made valid use of the DC Comics license, whether it was putting the heroes and villains to work in the LEGO Batman games, or letting the Dark Knight do what he does best in the far more serious Batman Arkham games, including the upcoming Origins. But, for Scribblenauts Unmasked, the focus is going back to gamers of all ages, as it takes the familiar creation formula we've come to expect from the series and combines it with the DC Comics universe. Well, maybe not the entire universe, but a pretty darn good amount.
The game once again puts you in the shoes of Maxwell, a kid who's just trying to help people out by using his ability to create objects on the spot. For instance, if someone asks that they need to go to a hospital, you'll summon an ambulance, then the means to get them there. If someone insists on how hungry they are, you can call up anything from hummus to cookies (probably better off with the sweet stuff) utilizing an in-game keyboard to conjure them up. With thousands of items already available in the game, Unmasked adds to the series by letting you summon hundreds upon hundreds of characters and items.
Unmasked features various locations from the DC universe, as well as new ones that fit quite well into the game. We roamed around what appeared to be the Justice League hall, looking for people to help out and finding plenty of room to conjure up items. We called upon Cyborg to wander around with Maxwell, even though his likeness isn't as devastatingly serious as the comics he previously starred in. In fact, all characters are drawn with the Scribblenauts design, complete with simplistic animations and expressions. That's just fine with us, really.
How Unmasked really takes off, however, depends on your imagination. You can call for a number of items in the game, from Hal Jordan's Green Lantern ring to the Wonder Twins to a Batarang, if you feel like throwing one around for good measure. However, don't forget there are still people to help out, so perhaps you'll use this creativity to find solutions to problems. Sure, some of them can be rather hilarious (a person asks for a hero, you give Joker instead and see their discontent through a verbal cloud), but the general consensus of the game revolves around finding a solution, then moving on to the next thing.
While the gameplay hasn't shaken up the Scribblenauts formula, it's still fun to create whatever you really want in Unmasked, whether it's the Penguin with a water pistol or Deathstroke with a candy cane. We had yet to see what kind of limits we could reach with our creativity, since the demo was so short, but it's got potential for growth, depending on what you're really in the mood to put together, and how deep your knowledge of the comic franchise goes.
Though the graphics haven't changed much, seeing Scribblenauts' take on the DC universe is ingenious, a fitting way to see it in action both on the Wii U and 3DS. The GamePad displays a fine touchscreen to get your commands across, as does the more portable version of the game. It never once loses its charm, even if some parts of the interface take some getting used to, like dragging an item over to a character or trying to discard unnecessary things – like the T-Rex we unwittingly unleashed in the lobby. Oops.
Though Scribblenauts Unmasked isn't as action-packed as other DC Comics games, it is a smart effort, and one that'll turn a few heads when it releases later this year. Especially, like I said, if you feel like going nuts with some of your ideas. It's your world – why not populate it?
Oh, and Scribblenauts Two-Face? Surprisingly adorable. You heard it here first.