Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter Review
Wii | DS
Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter box art
System: Wii, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Planet Moon Studios 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: THQ 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov.27, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Late in Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter, your character gains the ability to use wings in order to glide and perform a more powerful double jump. This was hardly original-save for the fact that I was able to design just how said wings would look-but it was also par for the course with my experience here. So far, I had seen the game borrow and steal liberally from Donkey Kong Country, Sonic and Knuckles, Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts, LittleBigPlanet, and any number of other 2D platfomers, but when I first used the wings, I was still a bit surprised.

"My god," I thought to myself. "They even stole from Kratos."

Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot

Platformers are one thing, because who the hell really makes a decent platformer anymore, aside from Nintendo and a few stragglers?-but these wings bared a strong resemblance to ones the Ghost of Sparta used in latter part of God of War II. Or how Alucard's leap-stone-equipped double-jump looked in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, if you prefer. It's sad when a game that purports creativity (even on a very basic and somewhat questionable level, as seen here) is seemingly thrown together from a mish-mash of every platformer design cliché in the book, but, well, DTL Wii isn't far off this mark.

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I should've known something was up right from the game's start. I was asked to draw the game's world, the sun, and the moon before I had a chance to create my character; the end result for all three were flat, ugly, two-dimensional eyesores that clashed horribly with the game's colorful, polygonal world. This wouldn't necessarily be a big problem, but the game gives you such limited tools in which to expand on your creations, however detailed you decide to make them, that there's really no practical way to make anything you do blend well with its surroundings. I don't care if the Wii is underpowered-your "artist's studio" is little more than a glorified recreation of Kid Pix, (yeah, I went there), and in an era of games with such robust creative toolsets as LBP or the upcoming (and meticulously detailed) Mod Nation Racers, that's pretty unacceptable.

Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot

DTL Wii seems content to do what so many sequels do-take an established formula, tweak it a little, and release it. The problem is, the idea behind DTL's original formula was flawed to begin with. Rather than giving you full creative control over your creations, DTL Wii relegates you to set designer about 80 percent of the time, filling in objects in the world that make it "your own". You do get to create your own avatar, though not your own enemies or NPCs, and character creation suffers from the artistic shortcomings as the rest. What isn't allowed is any sort of creative integration, or as is the case with the levels, placement.

The game suggests that you draw, say, leaves falling in a forest, or maybe the nose on a snowman. But what happens if you for some reason don't? I'll tell you what happens: there are blank, dotted squares in pre-programmed places in a level, like an undecorated sticker book. So right off the bat, most of the drawing available in the game is completely pointless, and has no bearing on anything actually needed to get through a given level aside from lending a likely-unappealing aesthetic signature to the environment you're in. I'll admit that it can be fun to populate a level (or hub town) with whatever the hell you want without either the ESRB or THQ's online police practicing censorship, but any enjoyment you may get out of this is fleeting and hardly worth devoting a good chunk of what could've been an interesting mechanic, too.

Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot

Aside from pre-made set dressing, you do get to draw a substantive array of typical platformer obstacles and objects (walkways, seesaws, buttons, rotating devices, and the like), but again, there's no real sense of creation or accomplishment, as it's all been pre-placed and can't be adjusted in any way, aside from cosmetically. Granted, DTL Wii isn't necessarily going for the jugular of a design-sense like LBP's, but would it have hurt to thrown in at least some choice for where objects can be placed?

Screenshots / Images
Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter screenshot - click to enlarge

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