Draw your own hero and send him into a world full of obstacles and enemies, all created by your hand and brought to life by the Wii. The concept is an ambitious one and it's often successful, but this Wii sequel to the original Drawn To Life (which was made by the Scribblenauts team) doesn't quite live up to its initial promise.
Yoshi: Touch 'n' Go started it all, kicking off a generation of new platformers where the gamers themselves draw the levels. It succeeded because it kept things simple - Yoshi runs on his own so you can concentrate on scribbling in the platforms he needs to survive. That was it.
Drawn to Life arrived on DS and took it even further, allowing you to draw everything from your own hero to physical objects within the world, while combining this with a full-fat adventure. It sounded great on paper but the core platforming turned out rather simplistic and, frankly, dull.
Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter improves on the original with bigger, better levels and new drawing mechanics. Your home-made protagonist is called into town when the residents realise the drawing book used to create the world has been stolen. You soon retrieve it but then all sorts of other mischief kicks off and it's your job to save the day.
There are two forms of drawing in the game. One that brings up a white canvas in which you sketch everything from your hero to cars, butterflies or moving platforms. Guidelines show you roughly how big and what shape your drawings should be and then the game animates them for gameplay.
The other type of drawing is new to this sequel. Blue boxes seen in levels are areas in which you can instantly draw lines in them by pointing the Remote at the screen and pressing B. Anything you draw in these blue boxes stays where it's drawn in mid-air - ideal for making platforms.
There are also red boxes in which any drawn object is immediately affected by gravity and falls to the ground. This is the basis for some really interesting puzzles. You'll come across wide open gaps with a red box over it and you know you have to draw a plank large enough to fall and form a makeshift bridge. Later you'll use physics more intricately though, drawing balls to roll down hills or platforms to push and use elsewhere.
Later levels also have you drawing in new gameplay objects like a monkey tail with which you can swing from hooks, or wings which let you reach previously out of reach platforms.
Cashing It In
As you progress you'll collect cash which can be used to buy new stickers and drawing options from the town shop, which let you pour more variety into your creations. Even so, the reality is that these drawing mechanics are extremely basic. When the game asks you to draw a car you have to stick to a very strict and restrictive template. Because of this restriction everything in the game looks pre-school-simple. Drawing objects with any real detail is near impossible. The various tools are far too inaccurate and it would take a robotically steady hand to draw with any fidelity using the Remote.
The pleasure of drawing objects on the canvas screen is also hindered by annoying load screens. In fact, Drawn to Life's loading screens are present throughout the game and really fragment the experience. This isn't the game's only pacing issue either. You have to return to the main hub world after each level and speak to a specific character in the town before the next level is made available. Why?
We just want to leap straight into the action, not wander around a bland town full of generic townspeople. The background music starts to really grate before long too.
Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter just doesn't cut it. It's a bare-bones jumper with some interesting, if flawed, drawing mechanics that just bump it into the 'slightly above average' pile.