Drawn to Life: The Next ChapterESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Planet Moon Studio
Players: 1-2 (Raposa Games)
Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter for the Wii brings us back to the citizens of Raposa who just happen to be the guardians of the Book of Life. After having finally rebuilding from the damage Wilfre did in the first instalment of Drawn to Life, the people of Raposa find themselves in trouble once again. When the Book of Life goes missing, along with a series of items throughout the village, Mari, the new mayor of Raposa, seeks the aid of the Creator to provide a Hero. This Hero is charged with the task of locating the missing items and returning them to their rightful places. Thus begins the adventure of the Hero as he navigates his way throughout the four realms following clues regarding the mysterious thefts. Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter gives a budding artist creative freedom to draw and create many aspects within the game, as well as an opportunity to use those artistic abilities to work through problems and obstacles.
The base graphics for this game have a very three dimensional cartoonish feel to them, which at times conflicts with the drawn images that you create. For the most part, if you are not an artistic wiz your hand drawn images may lack dimensional substance. As a result, it was often easier and more visually appealing to use the pre-set templates for certain items to give them a more polished appearance and make them feel as though they actually belonged in the game. Even the Hero, once created by hand or by template, does not escape this fact, but emphasizes it. Not only does the Hero seem out of place, but he seems highly out of proportion with the other citizens of Raposa. On a special note, it was a little on the odd for me, even a bit disturbing, that the development team decided to show when the Hero losses health they show a gradual or complete loss of all clothing.
Where the drawn graphics are at times questionable in quality, the scenery and environments do not disappoint. The levels are incredibly beautiful full of vibrant colours, with lots of moving features that keep the scenery alive with activity including moving obstacles, enemies, creatures, and collectible items such as health, free lives, stamps, and coins. The designers were very artistic when drawing themes to the scenery as it is made up of multiple and distinct layers as though each layer is built upon the next. Following true to visual perspective, the back layers are less clear while thos that are closer to the foreground improve in clarity and definition. This design feature really adds a special feel to the game.
The music that plays throughout the game is typical fare for adventure games with a pleasant melody playing in the background. Each world has specific tunes that are themed to the world type. For example, Jangala is a jungle world where the music is upbeat and full of drums while the Shadow City world’s music on the other hand is full of dark and melodramatic tones. The differences in the music are a great example of how it is well played and how it really does set up the mood for the game.
As for the game’s sound effects, they are widely varied for every single action. From jumping, ground stomping, and impacts with the enemy, to the ding when you grab some coins and the chime that indicates that a character wants to talk to you, the list could go on forever. The extensive sound effects provide a quaint charm to the atmosphere of the game and helps boost the audio effort as a whole.
The central hub of Drawn to Life is the village of Raposa where you are able to gain entry into the four worlds known as Shadow City, Icy Wastes, Eastern Winds and Jangala. It also allows access to the various dwellings with Raposa itself. Some key places to visit when you are not on a special quest within the worlds are Creation Hall, where you can alter any drawings you have created within the game, and Isaac’s Shop, where you can buy patterns, templates and paint pallets after you have located the stamps throughout the worlds. For a little fun the Raposa Sport’s Complex offers some enjoyable mini-games including Rapo-kick (Soccer), Rapo-hoops (Basketball), Rapo-puck (Hockey), Rapo-Net (Volley Ball). The instructions for each of these games is provided at the beginning of the matches and the controls vary depending on the game, but most make use of the A and B button, the control stick on the Nunchuk, as well as some shaking of the Wii Remote.
When you are finished touring the village and are ready to get started you will want to visit with Mayor Mari or Jowee, one of the villagers who is obsessed with adventures. These two will provide you with basic instructions and objectives for the next part of your adventure. With this information in hand you then go from world to world completing their requests within the various levels. Once a level is complete you have to report back to them to find out what your next task will be.
Control and gameplay in the levels plays relatively the same for each world. The Hero’s controls are pretty basic. Press A to jump, press A twice to double jump, and press A and then B while in the air to complete a Butt Stomp. The control stick on the Nunchuk provides movement control. The controls work really well and are simple enough that anyone should be able to pick up a controller and play with ease. In each world you will create a special physical feature for the Hero, such as a monkey tail in Jangala or claws in Shadow City, which will help you navigate the each world as well as assist you in utilizing certain features within the world.
You navigate the levels by passing tricky jumps and moving obstacles, avoiding or conquering enemies, and even zooming around at high speeds on a really cool, almost gravity defying vehicle. Of course it is not just a matter of hitting the d-pad and pressing the Wii Remote’s buttons as Drawn to Life utilizes some neat ‘tricks’ for you to continue your journey.
Easel Drawing is an aspect of the game that you will come across throughout each level. Once you have come across an easel you will be given an opportunity at artistic genius, or my personal favourite, the use of the template feature, to replace missing objects that will either help you navigate the level or simply to add to the décor of the scenery. Once an object is drawn that same drawing will be used in all areas of the game where the item was missing so it does not have to be drawn over and over again. When you select the drawing easel you are directed to a drawing page which consists of your canvas on the right hand side and your creation tools along the left. In the upper left corner there will be a window which displays your current progress of your creation. Within the drawing tools are such tools as a round brush, square brush, and an eraser, as well as 18 standard colours to choose from. There are also stamp tools (provide mini templates for things such as hair types, eye styles and symbols), line tools (including curve line, straight line, square and circle) and fill tools (let you fill an area with a particular colour or erase an area). All of these tools and their features can be adjusted to scale via the use of a scale bar located beneath all of the tools. As mentioned previously, if you prefer, you can take the easy way out and use a template that is available in the load template section of your drawing screen.
Action Drawing Canvases are outlined boxes on the screen that require you to use your Wii Remote while pressing the B button within the box to create some form of design (completely up to you) in order to assist you in completing an action (e.g. climbing higher to obtain an object or to gain access to a new area of a level). Limitations are placed on how much you can draw within the Action Canvas and this is represented by an ink meter. The ink meter varies in volume based on the task at hand, so be careful with your strokes or you may have to start over. If you do make a mistake, or your original design is of no use to you, you can use the Z button while pointing within these boxes to erase line by line, or you can continuously hold the Z button if you choose to erase everything. Once your design is deleted, the ink will go back to your ink well so that you can start again. Drawings created within these boxes do not last forever, so you have to make the most of them while they are there. The standard action drawing canvas will be a blue box; however there is a variety of boxes within each world with varying attributes. For example, the red boxes use physics ink where any of the drawings created will not stay within the box but will drop as a result of the pull of gravity unless otherwise supported by physical features in the environment. Another great example is the green ink which gives anything you draw a bouncy effect, so that anything that falls on the ink, such as an object or the Hero, will bounce off of it. Due to varying effects of the ink there is a greater range of possibilities for what you can do, thus figuring out how to solve your puzzle is usually a little trickier then you’d think.
After a level is complete you may come across villagers who have side quests for you to complete which can bring you back within levels that have been previously completed. For example, Pirate Beard challenges you to beat his level times, Farmer Brown is on the search for plants and seeds, Chef Cookie needs you to collect special ingredients, and Cricket is the local sheriff that at times will need your assistance collecting animals. Once these side quests have been completed you may receive a reward from the happy villagers. There is a lot of variety within the gameplay to keep you busy for quite some time with the numerous objects to draw, special items to collect, side quests to complete, and of course following the clues to saving the citizens of Raposa.
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