Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter Hands On
We grabbed our paintbrush for this colourful sequel to THQ's portable adventure game.
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When Drawn to Life was released on the Nintendo DS back in 2004, it was an innovative new experience for the pint-sized console. Its cute story and clever drawing mechanic outweighed its short and easy campaign, and THQ was pleased enough with its success to announce plans to develop a Nintendo Wii version last year. The Wii treatment comes courtesy of Planet Moon, and THQ product-development guru Jamie Campbell gave us a look at Drawn to Life on the Wii.
Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter is a fully fledged sequel to the DS original, and the story takes place shortly after its predecessor. You will be able to choose your own character by drawing it into the game with the nifty set of drawing tools. The tools have been redesigned to take advantage of the Wii's spray-can-style control mechanism, rather than the DS's tablet-like interface. The editor includes swatches, and paint bucket and eyedropper tools, as well as standard body parts and shapes if you can't be bothered to make your own characters and objects from scratch.
Although the Wii's controller might be a bit clumsy to draw with, The Next Chapter includes a range of templates to help speed up the character creation. There are character templates that you can use, from standard cartoon characters, to superheroes, dinosaurs, animals, and more. You can also use stamps to insert body parts such as eyes, feet, hands, a mouth, and a nose. Characters are divided into separate segments for the torso, head, and limbs, and if you're not happy with your dexterity, a joint editor lets you move the joints around, with hands growing out of your head if you desire. The only bad news is that you won't be able to import your Mii character into The Next Chapter.
Campbell used the superhero template to create his character during his demo. Conversely, we decided to draw a simple stick figure as our hero. After creating Mr. Stick, we jumped straight into the game. Guiding your hero is pretty straightforward: The analog stick controls movement, and the buttons are used to jump, attack, and flip. The level that we played began with a basic platforming section, but you soon encounter boxes that require the input of your special abilities, and one such box is an easel. A text box requested that we draw a flower on the easel, and it was a breeze to create a simple one such as the fire flower from Super Mario Bros. Next up, we needed to create an object for an elevator platform. Taking the lazy route, we opted for a cloud template, and after dropping that into the box, we moved up to the next level.
In addition to regular drawing boxes, you can find a few special boxes dotted around the levels. Blue boxes let you draw straight into the world, rather than via the paint editor. Drawing a diagonal line straight into a blue box let us walk along it to reach a higher ledge. Meanwhile, red boxes are used to create physics-based objects. We also ran into a nasty apelike enemy who was defeated by drawing a boulder in the red box, which then rolled downhill and knocked him out.
You'll be required to draw specific objects to aid your character at times. By drawing a pair of wings, we were able to perform triple-jumps and glide to reach certain platforms. At another point, we created some debris to see the direction in which the wind was blowing. This enabled us to catch some updraft and flap up to the next area. We're told that every level will feature its own specific functional item, and we can expect to see weapons later in the game, including swords and guns. There may be a limited amount of paint to draw with, but you can reset boxes if you run out of ink or make a mistake.
The Drawn to Life world looks great, with cheery environments full of bright, colourful clouds, flowers, and characters. The monsters that you encounter are also imaginative, and we saw black flying blobs, angry apes, and slimy slugs to vanquish. The game is still early in development, so Drawn to Life: The Second Chapter has yet to receive a firm release date, but we'll keep you informed along the way.