According to executive producer Kirsten Gavoni, Scribblenauts Unmasked—the franchise’s forthcoming DC Comics-themed entry—will feel comfortably familiar to fans that’ve previously used protagonist Maxwell’s trusty pencil and notebook to solve puzzles. “All your typical Scribblenauts gameplay applies,” she says. “You can still apply adjectives and objects, but now there are more ways to solve problems because you can use characters from the DC Universe.”
Of course, the inclusion of said DC do-gooders and uber-villains is fairly significant, as it gives the game a fresh feel despite the familiar gameplay. From its story—spawned from a Superman-versus-Batman debate between Maxwell and his twin sister Lily—to its missions—one of which pits Maxwell’s limitless creativity against Green Lantern’s ability to conjure anything at all—every aspect of the title’s been crafted with the comic book fan in mind. Featuring 2200 different DC-themed objects and characters, including 36 versions of Batman, Unmasked isn’t simply Scribblenauts re-skinned in spandex.
For those a bit daunted by the prospect of keeping track of three dozen Bat cod pieces, the game includes an exhaustive DC Universe encyclopedia of sorts. Accessed through the Batcomputer, this Wiki-like database is both a gameplay tool as well as a place players can visit to brush up on their DC history. Gavoni elaborates: “It contains everything you can imagine that’s in the game from the DC Universe. You can use it to figure out what objects are, how they connect with each other, or you can just get lost in the depth and go down this rabbit hole as far as you want. We wanted to give players tools to learn more about the universe and then be able to use them to their advantage.”
Scribblenauts Unmasked includes 36 versions of Batman.
Accessed at different points throughout the adventure, the Batcomputer not only provides important puzzle-solving intel, but also allows players to create items and save them to their utility belt (which takes the place of Maxwell’s backpack from previous games.) More than just a fan-pleasing feature though, the database is meant to encourage players to get creative in their problem-solving. Rather than relying on—or even exploiting—a few go-to items or strategies, developer 5th Cell really wants players to dig deep and discover all available options.
Fueling this philosophy is a new procedurally-generated mission structure. Main missions— unfolding in iconic environments such as Metropolis, Gotham City, and Green Lantern’s Oa—take you through the story, but it’s these more random tasks that’ll keep you playing long after the campaign’s credits roll. Dubbed “Heroic Feats,” these optional challenges change every time you enter an area. While they’re meant to offer infinite replayability, while continually keeping seasoned scribblers on their toes, they also reward those willing to flex their grey matter. According to Gavoni, the more of these mini-missions you complete, the more reputation points you earn to spend on unlocking new areas, abilities, and costumes—which, by the way, also grant the powers of their respective characters.
Gaining rep and unlocking items will also keep the game’s Hero Creator well stocked in character-customizing items. The coolest part of my demo was watching Gavoni use —and abuse—this feature at the peril of Martian Manhunter. Tapping and swiping at the Wii U’s tablet, she transformed the JLA legend into a character she christened “Martian Ladyhunter.” Beginning with a Scribblenauts-styled, White Lantern version of the character, she replaced his bald head with Wonder Woman’s noggin, then added a mask and ruby red lips to his (her?) face. She capped off this act of comic book sacrilege by weaponizing the creepy creation with the ability to shoot shoes at enemies.
Scribblenauts Unmasked seems to be retaining the series’ core creativity-encouraging gameplay, while evolving it just enough to make the four-year-old franchise worth visiting again. More than giving longtime fans a new reason to pick up the virtual pencil though, it looks to earn an entirely new audience thanks to its surprising amount of DC fan-servicing depth.
Heading into my demo, I was still undecided as to whether or not I’d be helping Maxwell for a fifth go-round. After witnessing the game’s Hero Creator in action though, I can’t not play it—how can I possibly pass up the opportunity to outfit the Dark Knight in a top hat, monocle, and ballerina tutu?
Matt Cabral is a freelance writer for IGN. His superpower is being unbelievably nice. Seriously, you can't help but like this guy. You can follow him on Twitter.
Source : ign[dot]com