Drawn to Life

Drawn to Life
Drawn to Life Cover
Platform Nintendo DS
Genre My Own Crappy Platformer
Score 3  Clock score of 3Gameplay: 2
Fun Factor: 2
Gfx/Sound: 7
Story: 3
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Drawn to Life is a Nintendo DS game that takes platformers a step forward by allowing you to draw your own character among many other objects throughout the game. It also takes platformers two steps back with its awful gameplay. Before I rip into the game though, let's take a look at the product as a whole. Drawn to Life was released in September of last year and really advertised itself as a game that would allow for so much more creativity in a genre rather lacking lately. The game is targeted for children, but I'll brave anything if it interests me, and Drawn to Life definitely did.

Anyways, awful is a rather strong word but while I'm playing a game, I'm constantly thinking about its current overall score and how it's doing in the individual categories. Drawn to Life started at around a seven (a nice number, giving the game the benefit of the doubt that it is above average), drawing your own character was kind of cool, and I put a lot of work into it because I knew I'd be staring at "me" for the next few hours. Then the real game starts, and we're faced with an empty village and a whole bunch of villagers to rescue. This got me really excited because last year I played Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, a truly stellar title that also focused on expanding a town and opening up new things as the game progresses. So I might have bumped up Drawn to Life to an eight at that point for its potential. However, the first platforming stage begins, and I was instantly able to recognize that this game is going to be painful, I'll get more into this during the gameplay portion. Between platforming levels, you wander around town doing other painfully boring stuff, more on this below during my story review. Overall, it's a constant back and forth between crap gameplay and crap story, ending in my biggest "WTF?" moment of the year.

Enough of this, straight to the scores out of 10.

Scores

Gameplay: 2
Ugh. Drawn to Life is the worst playing game I have played in a long time, it might be the worst playing game I ever forced myself to finish even (though I do own The Battle of Olympus). This is like NES level platforming gone wrong. I was constantly reminded of McKids but that oldie was actually kind of fun to play at times. The hit detection is atrocious, but I have a theory behind this: when you first draw your character, you have to draw your appendages withing boxes, and even if you don't completely fill the box (and why would you want perfectly rectangle arms anyway?) you'll still get hurt if an enemy hits your "box." I'm not totally certain on this though but I was yelling at the game sometimes because I would get hurt when jumping on enemies. Speaking of the enemies, they seem to jump out at you from nowhere. You're just running along and all of a sudden some giant poison-breathing bird will be killing you. And due to the deadly mix of platforming and enemies, this game was extremely frustrating to play.

I could go on and on about how bad the platforming is, or how lame the hunting around during the story elements is, but I think you get the picture. This game had potential but when the developers mess up something as essential as core gameplay, you have a crap game.

Fun Factor: 2
Once again, bad gameplay leads to little fun being had. This game is directed towards kids but when someone with nearly 20 years of video game experience wants to frisbee his DS across the room in anger, something is wrong. It's a tough, long game and the last few levels require some amazing dexterity and patience, not to mention a lot of luck and memorization. Kids may like talking to the boring villagers or pretending to enter buildings with open doors while they're actually just useless sprites on the screen, but kids aren't stupid, and they're not going to be fooled by a turd like this. Well, my kids won't at least.

Graphics and Sound: 7
Well, the game actually looks pretty good for being a 2D sidescroller during the platforming levels and a top-down view when walking around the village (why they didn't make the entire game top-down similar to Rocket Slime, I do not know). Drawing the main character is a fun idea but it inherently makes him uglier than all the other nice looking sprites. Maybe a really good pixel artist will have fun with this aspect, but drawing things in game (like clouds, boulders, and chandeliers) is pretty tedious for someone like me with little skill and patience. The game's sprites and backgrounds are well designed and well drawn though. I generally found the music and "voices" incredibly obnoxious and usually played with the sound off. The voices in game are basically toddlers yelling and making cooing noises, I didn't really understand what the developers were going for here. Sound effects are just mediocre, nothing stands out.

Story: 3
Drawn to Life's story is about a now empty village of Raposa, fox-like midgets, and the darkness that has been covering it. A little girl prays to the Creator, which is the player, for some help and the Creator sends down someone in his image to help out the Raposa. This is basically Jesus, but a Jesus you get to draw and who uses guns and swords. You fight evil black slime to rescue villagers and in between levels, are served one of the worst, most tedious stories ever. Story time is just an excuse for you to enter the next level, such as, "we need a lighthouse, go into this level to get the lighthouse page so you can color it in." And every time you complete a level, you must play scavenger hunt around the town finding the correct people to talk to as they all say, "go talk to Mari," "go find Jowee," and "speak with the mayor." It's incredibly monotonous and if you're not paying close enough attention them you will have no idea who to talk to or where to find them! Frustrating to say the least, drivel that is not good enough for a Saturday Morning Cartoon if you ask me.

Overall: 3
I 100% completed Drawn to Life, I only had to go back to one level to get the one thing I missed, everything else just fell in my lap like a dropped toolbox. I don't usually waste my time with crappy games, and I knew within an hour that this was going to be bad, maybe not totally bad at that point, but for whatever reason, I finished it. And here's my leap day present to all of you, a big fat warning to avoid Drawn to Life.

One final note, the song that played over the ending was so out of place, I broke out in a hilarious fit of laughter. It's a dramatic duet between a male and female voice and I believe it was actually written for the game so I'm not going to rip on it that much. It doesn't sound too bad on its own but... it's the finale to a bubbly platformer. I'm simply at a loss for words. Just listen to the ending of Drawn to Life here, and let that be your only exposure to this bomb.

Drawn To Life Character Screenshot
Here's my own Drawn to Life Greg.
Just look how giant he is compared to the level! I'm huge!