Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter Wii Review

May 29, 2010 by Simon Wigham  
Filed under Nintendo Wii, Reviews

With a game that’s as ambitious as Scribblenauts, people are sure to take notice of any game that 5th Cell were involved in, even if they felt that the idea was part of a weak game. The concept for the original Drawn to Life was dreamed up by 5th Cell, but for the Wii version of its sequel, Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter, development duties have fallen to Planet Moon Studios. Being a sequel it isn’t anything new, so obviously it doesn’t break ground like the inventive Scribblenauts did, but it does have something in common with that game: it’s a wonderful playground for creative minds.

Like its predecessor, Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter is a 2D Platformer, with the major difference being that you get the chance to create your own character and not via the usual gameface and its ilk, where all the facial features, hair, clothing and such are provided by the developers, here you literally get to knock up your character from scratch. The creation aspect extends much further than this, with much of the in game objects potentially being your own work.

This is all achieved through a simple and flexible tool, where the only real bounds are your imagination and the size of objects. Much of the features you’d expect from a paint like program are present. You’re able to change your brush to easily draw certain shapes, there’s a large choice of colours and, if you’re really lazy, there are stamps of which can be used to quickly add a feature (such as a pair of eyes) for your character.

If you’re even lazier you can bypass the process altogether but, even though there’s a good chance that the developers efforts are going to be Leonardo Da Vinci compared to your shoddy work, at least to begin with there’s a certain appeal of seeing your finished creations becoming a part of the world, be it a convincing part or not. However, sadly this gimmick is a bit of an overused one, and all but the most creative of people will quickly tire of the constant loading interruptions and the drawing of the most mundane things, suffice to say the novelty soon wears off and many people will eventually opt to just implement the pre made templates into the levels rather than their own work.

It’s a terrible shame as that’s undoubtedly the main allure of the game, particularly if you’re looking for an inventive experience, as elsewhere the platforming is of the most vanilla variety and, in terms of overall quality, doesn’t come close to matching the best that the genre has to offer. You have a level of control over your character (perhaps monstrosity is a more fitting word) that every self respecting platformer should grant to you. There’s platforms (some of which are moving) to jump on, trampolines to bounce on and walls to climb (which allow you to access higher areas), coins to amass (which here can be used within the hub to purchase additional creation items) and secrets to be discovered. It’s all largely ordinary components for the genre then, which in itself is no bad thing, but the fact that it’s all been executed to a much better degree in a host of other games certainly is.

It would be churlish to say that there isn’t a bit more to the game than that, though. There’s the occasional serviceable vehicle segments for starters, as well as some throwaway minigames. More innovative is the action drawing, you’ll often come across areas within many of the stages, where with limited ink you can directly draw into, creating platforms and such. The blue areas are static, but the red areas are affected by physics, and finally the green areas allow you to directly draw a bouncy platform into the world.

Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter is an interesting concept but with a dull platformer wrapped around it. Its central gimmick is too much of a focus and perhaps if Planet Moon Studios had concentrated their efforts in more important areas, the end result could have been a great deal better than the average and soulless offering that Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter has turned out to be.

5/10

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