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Review

Scribblenauts Unmasked Review

  • First Released Sep 24, 2013
    released
  • Reviewed Oct 2, 2013
  • 3DS
  • WIIU

Imagination's Kryptonite.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Maxwell has an amazing power. The young star of the Scribblenauts games can conjure objects out of thin air and apply properties to himself or to anything around him. In theory, this sounds like the ultimate superpower, an ability that gives you access to just about any power you can think of. Just tap Maxwell and type "flying," and you can take to the skies. Tap an enemy and type "frozen," and he stops in his tracks. The only limit should be your imagination, and Maxwell should fit right in with the likes of Batman, Superman, and the hundreds of other DC universe characters who can be summoned in Scribblenauts Unmasked. But unfortunately, your real battles in Unmasked aren't with the likes of Lex Luthor and the Joker, but with the often-frustrating logic of the game itself.

Scribblenauts Unmasked whisks Maxwell and his sister Lily to the DC universe, but their arrival brings chaos to the streets of Gotham, the skyscrapers of Metropolis, and other famous locations. That's because Maxwell's mischievous doppelganger has also come to the world, and he pairs up with numerous supervillains who are attempting to harness the power of the starites that have become scattered about the universe. So as Maxwell, you traipse through locales, helping citizens in order to earn reputation that lets you access still more locations, and every once in a while engaging in a structured encounter with a supervillain to secure a starite.

Bruce Wayne really should close the door to his laundry room when he has guests over.
Bruce Wayne really should close the door to his laundry room when he has guests over.

With the exception of the starite battles, most incidents you happen upon throughout the game are randomly generated, so you can return to Atlantis or Arkham Asylum over and over again and find new problems to solve. Unfortunately, more often than not, these problems lack any sense of comic-book pizzazz, and just feel like mundane tasks. People ask you to collect objects scattered around the environment, or to toss a soccer ball into a goal. The tasks on offer are often surreal. A waiter might inform you that his ATM has been taken (yes, his personal ATM), or a talking bass might ask you to give him a new tail. Most of these problems are easily solved and require little creativity, and too many of them feel at odds with the game's superhero theme and setting.

Still, there are plenty of opportunities for masked vigilantes and men of steel to make themselves useful. The sheer number of DC characters in Unmasked is impressive. Type in "Batman," and you're presented with a slew of caped crusaders to choose from. Do you want Batman Beyond Batman, Year One Batman, or Armored The Dark Knight Returns Batman? But the game's character library extends far beyond well-known characters like Aquaman and The Flash. If your knowledge of DC characters doesn't already include the likes of Aztek and Triplicate Girl, not to worry. You can browse the batcomputer at any time looking for heroes and villains, and read brief bios of each character. And on the PC and Wii U, you can create and share characters and objects, so if you want Rorschach or Captain America's shield or Sylvia Plath to play a part in your adventures, you can make that happen.

You can play through brief versions of the origin stories of The Flash, Superman, and other heroes.
You can play through brief versions of the origin stories of The Flash, Superman, and other heroes.

But while the quantity of DC characters on offer is amazing, it quickly becomes frustrating that they don't often behave in ways that you might want them to. If you find a wall of huge ice cubes standing between you and a starite, for instance, you might summon one of the game's many variations of Superman, thinking that he can use his heat vision to easily eliminate this obstruction. Instead, though, Supes just stands there, seemingly clueless as to how he can offer you any assistance. Frustrations with the logic and behavior of objects and adjectives in the game extend well beyond the DC characters. In that same conundrum, for instance, you might apply the adjective "melting" to the ice cubes, but while this results in them giving off drops of water in a way that suggests they're melting, they never actually melt.

The failure of adjectives to work the way they should is an issue throughout the game; you come up with solutions to problems that seem sound, but that don't work, so you feel as if you're struggling not so much with the problems Maxwell is faced with, but with the game's systems. Eventually you find nouns and adjectives that are so effective at helping you overcome specific types of problems that you'll likely rely on them over and over again. The game encourages you to change things up, offering only 50 percent of the reputation reward if you use the same word twice within the same scenario, but you move from locale to locale so frequently that this is no impediment.

Additionally, Mr. Mxyzptlk periodically offers you an opportunity to earn double reputation if you agree to his conditions. These are sometimes easily manageable (each object in the world has random adjectives assigned to it, so you encounter things like tsunamic trophic theoretical telepathic roses and fat fire-breathing flat armed extinguished firemen) and sometimes quite challenging (you can only use words starting with the letter J). But these challenges are always optional, and if one has you overly flummoxed, you can cancel it at any time.

What's cooler than summoning Batman? Summoning a giant kitty cat, of course!
What's cooler than summoning Batman? Summoning a giant kitty cat, of course!

Scribblenauts Unmasked looks endearing. But its charms too often give way to boredom as you find yourself doing menial tasks in locations known for being extraordinary, and to exasperation as things don't work the way you think they should. And of course, there are opportunities here to come up with your own unusual and goofy scenarios--What would happen if Superman and God got in a fight?--but the results are never as interesting as your imaginative ideas deserve. You're better off using your imagination within the confines of your own mind, where you can soar the skies of Metropolis unfettered by the faulty and limited logic imposed by Scribblenauts Unmasked.

Back To Top
The Good
Huge database of DC characters, famous and obscure
Endearing depictions of heroes and locations
The Bad
Many tasks are mundane and out of place
Characters and attributes often don't behave like you think they should
The same few nouns and adjectives can get you through most situations
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Carolyn Petit had never played a Scribblenauts game before, but she has been saving universes with the power of her imagination ever since she saw The NeverEnding Story as a child.
105 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

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FuBi2k

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Oh Carolyn, you really didn't think to add "allied" to spawned heroes you want to fight for you? Anyway, it's a fun relaxer of a game if you're a DC geek and have an imagination. =] 7/10 for what it is.

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chyng85

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Still wanna try it~!

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halovsmetroid2

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The one problem i have with this review is when listing 'you can play the orgin stories of superman, flash and other heroes' batman is listed under other heroes.

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Warlord_Irochi

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@Jak Gibberish I hope it's intentional

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TheLightElf

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Summon Batman. . summon a leash. Put said leash on Batman and you can drag him around!

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kkxtrouble

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After watching some gameplay of the game on youtube, it just doesn't seem fun.

You don't you a lot of you "scribble" power in the game, and it is so focused on fighting that it loses a lot of its appeal. It is scribblenauts without the puzzle elemtent, I'll saty with unlimited, thank you.

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HadOne2Many

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I hope this comes out for tablets like Scribblenauts Remix did. My 5 year old would love to play it and $0.99 seems to be about the right price.

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DocSanchez

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Another underwhelming Wii U game.

Thing about the Scribblenauts franchise is, once you've pissed around with figuring out what you can conjure, it's pretty boring.

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dariusq

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"And on the PC and Wii U, you can create and share characters and objects, so if you want Rorschach or Captain America's shield or Sylvia Plath to play a part in your adventures, you can make that happen." And with that quote Carolyn has officially labeled herself a poser.

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Texasguy

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Edited By Texasguy

@dariusq I'm not a fan of the author's reviews but they were talking about using the creation tool.

Edit: I realize you might have been saying you couldn't because of copyright but you can get around that

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dariusq

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@Texasguy You can try and patch something together using the creation mode but believe me it isn't that good. I suppose you could still name it Captain America but it wouldn't really look much like him.

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Warlord_Irochi

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@dariusq The hell? lol
Any cheap excuse to bash a reviewer? like this new trend in Gamespot mandates? Now THAT is being a poser...

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dariusq

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@Warlord_Irochi @dariusq Of the 3 very specific items she mentioned you could conjure in the game none of them are possible. She could easily have said "everything and the kitchen sink" which would ironically have been more accurate (because you can actually produce a kitchen sink).That's a pretty clear case of ignorance feigning knowledge. So yeah, poser.

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cain006

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@dariusq @Warlord_Irochi She's saying that you could make them yourself, not that they're in the game.

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dariusq

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@Warlord_Irochi @dariusq She could have easily made reference to any number of non-specific copyright things. She choose those specific things because she thought it made her sound like she knew what she was talking about.

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Warlord_Irochi

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@dariusq ok, a mistake in review = poser. Is there no other word, really?

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Roger01

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@ch4ppysgamerev No, it's just you. Thank you for your "opinion" though.

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GSyynoandnoyyGS

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Can I summon a Heavyweight Misogynist?

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shreddyz

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@noandno This game is politically muddled but that's ok because the kids won't mind..

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G4m3r0uTL4wZ

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lol that superman/Lex luthor fight at the end...

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acelogan1989

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lol

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shreddyz

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Nice work trashing on a kids game. lol

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blitzinD

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@shreddyz

Why should this game be exempt from criticism simply because it is for kids?

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TriggerManX97

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Edited By TriggerManX97

@blitzinD @shreddyz it shouldn't be exempt from criticism, but like he said this game is made for children so you shouldn't expect it to be Very Complex, that being said they should have put in an extra set of level that would be Trickier to complete.

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snake63

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Scribblenauts Unmasked feels like those old Colorforms toys.

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Hiddai

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ouch

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Queuingreturns

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Edited By Queuingreturns

PC has such "great" exclusives.

All that processing power and they can't even make it look nor play "good".

Ahahahaahahahahaha. XD.

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Warlord_Irochi

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Edited By Warlord_Irochi

@Queuingreturns Are you blaming PC in general for a particular case of bad code optimization? really?

Sounds like the fanboy conversations you would see in the door of a school. what are you? 10 y/o?

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mr_gibberish

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@Queuingreturns Wait, am I missing something here. Why you on about PC's "great exclusives" when this is a review for a Wii U game?

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pinicolaroxa

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@Queuingreturns I missed the joked

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Planeforger

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@Queuingreturns This guy apparently doesn't realise that the PC has far more highly rated exclusives in 2013 (including the two highest-rated games of the year) than any of its competitors.

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Roger01

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@Planeforger @Queuingreturns What are the two highest rated games of the year? (legit question, not me being fascetious, it's just so I can know and get them :P)

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Pelezinho777

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@Queuingreturns It's using brain, for a difference of others...

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arindam1

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Edited By arindam1

@Queuingreturns game is not about using the cpu power to the max. if you want to troll at least troll smart.

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zatorys

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i will go with ign on this

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kkxtrouble

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@zatorys The metacritic score is 6.6, IGN's is score is waaaay too high.

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fgjnfgh

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pff IGN gave it 9.0. My question is not whether to buy it or not. y question would be whether to buy this or by the original one on Wii U

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zyxahn

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It makes sense. If it's a superhero then you would be excited to play it figuring on that premise. If the joy of summoning a bunch of them is lost in the games logic and mechanics then why in the hell did they bother to make the game. Like making a lego game without legos.

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nait2k4

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Edited By nait2k4

Thanks Caro, good review. Having watched a few gameplay videos, it seems to have a fair share of bullshit fetch quests, and other junk that makes little sense. Doesn't quite have the same kind of charm as the earlier games :(

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Warlord_Irochi

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@nait2k4 I miss the feeling the first one left when I tried it. Guess this game's main attraction point was innovation. After so many iterations... well...

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d33pak001

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Edited By d33pak001

Amazing review...After playing unlimited I was really excited for this one(specially after hearing that you can summon Swamp Thing).....but playing it was a drag, felt like a side scrolling action game....

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Outatomomega

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I'm shocked, I guess this is one of those games that are tailored to a specific taste.

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure More Info

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  • First Released Sep 24, 2013
    released
    • 3DS
    • PC
    • Wii U
    Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure challenges you to use your imagination to battle the mightiest villains in an action-filled adventure through Gotham City, Metropolis, Atlantis, and other iconic locales from the DC Comics universe.
    6.6
    Average Rating22 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure
    Developed by:
    5TH Cell
    Published by:
    Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
    Genre(s):
    Puzzle, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief