‘Scribblenauts Unmasked’ makes a game of DC Comics history

May 15, 2013 | 7:16 a.m.

The Batcave, as seen in an upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

Batman villains from the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

Cerberus from the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

Some of the multiple versions of the Flash in the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

The entrance to the Fortress of Solitude from the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

The Fortress of Solitude as seen in the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

Some of the many Green Lanterns from the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

Batman's laundry room in a scene from an upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

A look at Wayne Manor from the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

A scene from the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

Video gamers will soon have the opportunity to create their own superheroes for the DC Comics universe. Or turn Batman into a zombie. Or suggest Superman wear a pink cape and ride a unicorn. But don’t try to give Batman a gun. Some things will never change.

This fall 5th Cell and Warner Bros. Interactive will release “Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure” for the Wii U, 3DS and PC. The latest in the Scribblenauts franchise looks to be an expansive, puzzle-based adventure that makes use of the heroes, villains and locations made famous by the worlds featured in the 75-plus years of DC Comics. And some of the not so famous, too.

“For the first time in any game we have all the DC Comics characters,” said Caleb Arseneaux, a 5th Cell producer. “The entire roster — characters who appeared in [only] one panel in a comic in 1956.”

“Scribblenauts Unmasked” was revealed at a Warner Bros. Interactive press event on Monday in Santa Monica. The game follows last year’s “Scribblenauts Unlimited,” then the first open-world game set around Maxwell and his mysterious notebook, a device that allows him to bring to life anyone or anything he can scribble down.

Batman does laundry in a scene from an upcoming DC Comics-inspired "Scribblenauts" adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

Batman’s laundry room in a scene from an upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

In Scribblenauts games, players are presented with a puzzle that is solved by allowing gamers to create anything, within family-friendly reason, that can be typed on the screen. It’s a write-your-own-solution approach to problem solving, and “Scribblenauts Unmasked” puts players in colorfully cartoonish versions of Batman’s Wayne Manor, Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and planet Oa, home to the Green Lantern Corps, among many other DC Comics settings.

The game, said Arseneaux, is designed to randomly generate new puzzles each time players enter a locale. If a player returns to the Gotham City streets, for instance, they will be met with completely new challenges from previous adventures. Maxwell boosts his reputation by helping superheroes. If he writes the word “antidote,” for example, to create a cure for a tranquilized Batman, his better standing will allow him to discover new costumes.

“Scribblenauts Unmasked” marks the first time the franchise is linked entirely to a brand. 5th Cell Chief Executive and creative director Jeremiah Slaczka said in a follow-up interview that the more imaginative qualities of Scribblenauts won’t be lost by focusing on the DC Comics universe rather than a wholly original world.

“There’s so much to work with,” he said. “We have around 2,000 characters, and then there’s gadgets, superheroes, super villains, vehicles and all that stuff. In ‘Scribblenauts [Unmasked],’ we want people to screw around and have fun. The intent here is that if you’re in Gotham City and hanging out, what kind of things could you do to deal with a robbery?”

Cerberus from the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired "Scribblenauts" adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

Cerberus the three-headed hound from the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired “Scribblenauts Unmasked” game. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

Brainteasers will be directly inspired by the pages of DC Comics. “The puzzles are much more unlimited,” Slaczka said in comparing the game to the more static locales of “Scribblenauts Unlimited.” “Every time you go into a level, it’s going to be populated with random events. Maybe there’s a fire, maybe there’s a mugging, maybe a  super villain is trying to take over a city.”

Slaczka said even the most dedicated DC Comics fans have probably forgotten about some of the characters found within “Scribblenauts Unmasked.” There are, for instance, at least 33 different variations of Batman and more than 100 different interpretations of Green Lantern. Mogo the Living Planet makes an appearance, as does an alternate-universe Martha Wayne in which Bruce’s mother became the Joker.

And then, of course, there’s the modifications players can make to characters such as Batman or Superman. On Monday, Arseneaux brought to life Zombie Batman, who promptly turned his pals into zombies. Players can also use a “hero generator” to create their own one-of-a-kind crime fighters (read: you can’t create Marvel Comics hero Iron Man).

Still, Slaczka says DC Comics has given the company more or less free rein, with some key limitations. Batman, for instance, is not allowed to commit murder. So, to recap: Zombie Batman can turn the Scribblenauts universe into zombies, but guns are strictly verboten.

“Batman doesn’t do guns,” Slaczka said. “If you give him a gun, he will drop it. DC just wanted to make sure we maintain the look and feel and property, but they understand what people will do with the characters.”

As to how Maxwell gets caught up in “Justice League”-type adventures in the first place, it’s all due to a fight with his sister.

The entrance to the Fortress of Solitude from the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired "Scribblenauts" adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

The entrance to the Fortress of Solitude from the upcoming, DC Comics-inspired Scribblenauts adventure. (5th Cell / Warner Bros. Interactive)

“The story here is that Maxwell and Lily are hanging out in Maxwell’s bedroom,” Slaczka said. “They both have their favorite superheroes. Max likes Batman and Lily is into Superman and they’re arguing about who is better. Maxwell says, ‘We can find out who is better.’ “

Of course he can, as he has a magic notebook.

So what’s next, “Looney Tunes Scribblenauts”? Don’t pencil it in, said Slaczka.

“Currently it’s a one-off,” he said. “There’s not a plan for doing something like this in the future. It’s a  bit of an experiment.”

“Scribblenauts Unlimited” was praised as one of the top 10 games of 2012 by Hero Complex.

– Todd Martens

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

RECENT AND RELATED:

'Bioshock Infinite'

PS4? New Xbox? Nah, it’s the little games that matter

‘Guacamelee!’ review: Colorful game honors Day of the Dead traditions

‘Bioshock Infinite’ review: Violence, with a social agenda

‘Star Trek: The Video Game’ doesn’t live up to the franchise

‘Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon’ review

‘Fire Emblem: Awakening’ review: Love hurts

‘Tomb Raider’ now battling video game stereotypes

Ron Gilbert’s ‘The Cave’ puts adventure back in play

Comments


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Close
E-mail It
Powered by ShareThis