The worst part of being a comics fan is when you find yourself rooting not for a major star like Batman or Wonder Woman, but for some obscure character that none of your friends have ever heard of, like … well, I don’t know, I’ve never heard of them. Not only will you have to spend your time trying to convince people that your hero actually exists, you’ll also have to accept the disappointing truth that your idol will never star in a blockbuster Hollywood movie, they’ll never have an action figure, and they’ll certainly never be in a video game.
Well, so long as your long-forgotten superhero comes from the world of DC Comics, he or she is in Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure. They’re all in there – all of them. Doesn’t matter if they were the marquee attraction or were in one panel of one comic back in 1976, they’re in the game, along with more than 2000 of their tights and cape-wearing colleagues. 33 different Batmans. 130 Green Lanterns, yes, even Mogo. (He’s a planet, by the way.) They’re all in there, along with the vehicles, sidekicks, and villains who made them famous.
Unmasked begins as Maxwell and his sister Lily are arguing about who’s better, Batman or Superman (I think we all know the answer to that one already, but hey, they’re kids, let’s cut them some slack). Maxwell uses his magic notebook to whisk them away to the Batcave, and it’s not long before they find themselves caught up in some Justice League-flavored activities.
It may be coated in comic book, but Unmasked is still very much a Scribblenauts game, which means Max will have to create objects to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles in each location. If something is stuck up in a tree, you could create a ladder to reach it, or create a chainsaw to cut down the tree. Scribblenauts is about using lateral thinking to work your way around a situation, hopefully in as ridiculous a way as possible. You’ll run into those same kinds of situations in Unmasked, but you’ll also have to help out some heroes in a bind.
Occasionally, you’ll see a DC character with an icon over their head indicating that they have a “Heroic Feat” for you to perform. These Feats are smaller challenges, such as figuring out how to rouse Aquaman after he’s been knocked out by a villain (go for the smelling salts, always a good choice). Max earns Reputation for each completed Feat, which he can then use to unlock costumes and new maps. The maps recreate locations that will be known to even the most casual DC fan, like Green Lantern HQ on planet Oa. The Heroic Feats are procedurally generated and dynamically located every time you load up a map, hopefully ensuring that you get a fresh experience every time you play the game.
The appeal of Unmasked for hardcore comic junkies is obvious, but even if your knowledge doesn’t wander far from the characters you’ve seen on T-shirts, you can learn more as you play. Commissioner Gordon has compiled complete dossiers on all of the characters in the Batcomputer, so you can bone up on your lore and become a true DC expert. Or just make zombie Batman and watch him infect all the other characters on screen. That’s a solid way to go, too.
The game’s Object Editor will allow you to create your own heroes, using bits and pieces from the other heroes you encounter. 5th Cell wouldn’t tell us a whole lot about this part of the game, like how many superpowers one created character can have, so we’ll have to check into it more at E3. My first character will be Super Alfred, Butler of Justice. Maybe he’ll be a planet.
Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure is due out this Fall for 3ds, Wii U and PC.