Review – Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter
Platformer, Puzzle, Art
This isn’t an Art Attack either.
The original DTL was by developed 5th Cell games (Scribblenauts) and released on the DS back in 2007. Making good use of the DS’s stylus it told the story of the land of Raposa where everything was made by the good like Creator whose power created everything in Raposa and was stored inside the magical Book of Life. So when the game’s villain stole the book and removed the pages, replacing them with his own drawings of twisted, dark creatures it was up to the player to take the role of the creator and set things right in Raposa by creating a hero destroy the dark creatures and remake the missing pages of the Book of Life. This was done by using the stylus to recreate the missing pages and save Raposa from the darkness with you literally drawing Raposa back to life.
This sequel for the Wii was developed by Planet Moon Studios (Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Armed and Dangerous) follows a similar path with you once again taking the role of the creator who’s hero adventures through the land of Raposa recreating missing objects and things to help restore everything that’s been stolen or destroyed but this time with the Wiimote standing in for the DS’s stylus.
The game begins with you creating some of the biggest objects in the game namely the Raposa planet, its moon and sun. To do this you use Drawn to Life’s paint program that’ll be immediately familiar with anyone who’s used any basic computer art program in the last twenty years be it. It’s has a basic colour palette, adjustable sizes for pens and stamps and tools for making simple shapes or curved/straight lines. All of which are done by controlling a cursor linked to the Wiimote that you draw on screen with along with clicking the relevant icons.
Once that’s done you then create your hero by drawing its arms, legs, torso and head or if you’re lazy you can just select one of the provided template characters to use. Then it’s a case of leaving Raposa to search for the missing items from the Book of Life. It boils down to lots of simple 2D platforming with the odd puzzle section thrown in to get access to extra coins to buy objects, art stamps, character templates or extra health, lives and the like.
But it’s not as simple as just jumping around from A to B as you’ll quickly find Raposa is missing lots of crucial objects needed for you to make any progress. First off you need to recreate the only bridge out of Raposa town then it’s the always common platforms to jump on and then objects that have special properties like bouncy trampolines or blocks you can swing off (once you’ve drawn yourself a monkey tail)
At first its great fun drawing all these things knowing that you’ll be using them throughout the game but you’ll soon find that even the most mundane objects like butterflies or generic background scenery needs recreating which makes it hard to get a good flow going with the platforming and exploration when you’re stopping every other minute to load up the painting screen to draw a log or shop sign.
I played the DS version of this game, so obviously the gimmick of this game that you get to draw in game objects is going to be easier than pointing at a screen. On the downside I am as adept at drawing as Michael J. Fox is at playing the board game Operation. So all the objects in my game tended to mono-coloured blobs.
Since I never played the original I wasn’t too fussed about the plot and you don’t really need to read it to know what to do. Since the game consists of moving the weird sausage man avatar I made about the map towards the exclamation marks. This is followed by the level after you’ve had to colour in the area of the level.
When it comes to the platform sections they really aren’t anything special. If you’ve played any Super Mario Bros game then you’ve seen pretty much everything that’s in this game. It honestly plays out with every single platforming genre stereotype. To the floating platforms and underwater levels etc.
The game isn’t all bad I did like the times where you have to draw the actual platforms on the screen. You have a limited amount of â€œinkâ€ to make ramps or platforms to get your avatar to where you want to . If you cock it up you can erase it and try again so that makes it interesting, to try slightly different things. Though much like the developers Scribblenauts, this is a good idea that unfortunately is let down by the final execution.
Secondary Score: 5/10
Thankfully the grind of jump-draw-jump is broken up from time to time with the introduction of action ink and later psychics ink. Action ink can used to draw on screen during the platforming sections kind of like a sports commentator would and what ever you draw with this blue ink (so long as its with in the special dashed ‘canvas’ area) stays put so you can make your own platforms and ramps to jump on.
Psychics ink is different in the fact that it’s red not blue and what ever you draw with it becomes solid and then leaves the canvas. So say you draw a big red square (no easy task given the free hand controls for both types of ink) it’ll drop off the canvas allowing you to push it around or use it as a solid platform. Different shapes all act as you’d expect with round shapes rolling down slopes and step triangular shapes making good ramps. Add to this the occasional use of drawing pins on the canvas to hold the psychics ink in place and you can make your own rotating platforms and treadmills.
All of this sounds like a great formula for a fun and innovative game right? Well just like its handheld predecessor and even Scribblenauts the different game elements struggle to rise above mediocrity with the main drawing mechanic being the worse offender. Sure you can use the Wiimote to draw on screen but doing so is akin to serving tea while wearing boxing gloves and an eye patch. It’s near impossible to draw a straight line without using the tools provided and drawing a smooth curve even more so.
Yes with time and patience you can get good results but it does somewhat kill the experience and that’s coming from someone who spent most of the 90’s wasting his time with SEUCK (ask you parents kids) Add to this the loading screens that pop up with every mundane action and stop/start music that sounds like a Vengaboys cover band and you’ll soon be wishing it was a handheld game so you could fling the fucker at the nearest wall.
There is a great ‘art creation sandbox-thingy’ game to be made with both this and Scribblenauts having the right ingredients but until the recipe is perfected by someone who knows the difference between what makes a great game and a list of bullet point features that look good on the back of a box I’ll remain unimpressed.