When Scribblenauts Unlimited came out last year, it reintroduced gamers to the magic of Maxwell and his powerful notepad, which he could use to conjure everything from a polka-dotted dinosaur to an orange chainsaw, all for the sake of solving ingenious puzzles. It left us wondering just what developer Fifth Cell could do differently for the next game in the series — and now we know.
Scribblenauts Unmasked for the Nintendo 3DS (it's also out for PC and Nintendo Wii U) is a joint venture between the world of Scribblenauts and DC Comics, where Maxwell and his niece Lily help out such heroes as Superman, Batman and the Green Lantern while rubbing elbows with villains like The Joker and Sinestro, among others.
In fact, part of Unmasked's dynamic potential is its limitless count of heroes and villains. Fifth Cell has practically thrown in nearly the entire comic cavalcade into the game. Classic Gotham Batman? Yep. Wonder Twins? They're present. By using the Batcomputer, you can see just how many heroes and villains are at your disposal. It's a ton.
But, of course, goofing off with your notepad is a minor goal. As with previous Scribblenauts games, you'll have Maxwell interacting with characters through each world, including Gotham City, Oa and Metropolis. They'll have a problem, and you'll need to find the right tool for the job. For instance, when Lily becomes injured, you'll call upon a doctor to fix her up. If Commissioner Gordon's car is busted, a mechanic is just what you need.
You don't always have to go with straight answers either. Sometimes it helps to think outside the box, like using a water pistol to dispose of pigeons or creating a special invisible pen for a fan to get an autograph from a certain superhero. The more creative you are, the more hilarious the results can be. It's this level of creativity that really gives Scribblenauts Unmasked the boost it needs.
It's not entirely perfect, as sometimes there are obvious answers that don't fill someone's needs, leaving you stuck. Not to worry, though. Thanks to the game's random world generator, you can simply drop out and head back in, and get over that challenge with another one in its place.
The game's presentation isn't bad, but it doesn't really take advantage of the 3DS' best capabilities. Since you're interacting with stuff on the bottom screen, you're stuck looking at a mostly stoic display of Max walking up top. It would've been nice for some more liberties to have been used as far as fancy visuals go. Still, at least the interface works nicely, and the characters scamper about in a cute animated style. The sound is good, too, though you're mostly limited to small sound samples and effects.
Also, it's a shame the handheld version doesn't include a Hero Creator like the Wii U version does. On the bright side, you can give Maxwell some cool abilities in his own right, including those nifty X-Ray goggles.
While Scribblenauts Unmasked is tied down by its short game length and presentation in some ways, it's still a delightful game to pass the time with, mainly because of the puzzles you can solve and the utter amount of DC Comics-related stuff you can pile on the screen. Ever seen a large Aquaman get in a fight with a tiny Penguin? With golf clubs? Here's your chance.
VIDEO GAME REVIEW
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii U, PC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Fifth Cell
ESRB rating: E10+