Before Scribblenauts, developer 5th Cell introduced gamers to Drawn to Life, a title which opened the door for gamers to let their imaginations run wild as they put their drawing talents to the test by personalising the platforming title with their own character creations. After dominating the sales charts on the Nintendo DS, the uber-popular Drawn to Life has now made its way onto the Nintendo Wii for an all-new adventure. While the motion control aspect of the Wii should give Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter instant appeal, it is unfortunately bogged down thanks to an imprecise drawing mechanic and lacklustre platforming action. While largely the same as its DS counterpart, the cool idea of being able to create the game world that you play in just wasn't enough to gloss over the rudimentary gameplay on offer - something which gamers found much more excusable in the handheld format of the title. It is these shortcomings which keep the game from being nothing short of amazing.
Eventhough the original title never appeared on the Wii, The Next Chapter picks up the story where Drawn to Life left off with the Raposa living a peaceful village existence under the rule of Mayor Mari. Though like most tales, things eventually begin to go awry with the town suddenly befalling a crime wave of persistent thievery and it's up to the Creator (that would be you dear gamer) to set things right - and so your platforming adventure begins.
Flexing your drawing talents is a double-edged sword in The Next Chapter as it serves to be the titles singular hook for drawing you in, while annoying the hell out of you with its inaccuracy at the same time. In the DS edition, your drawings are only held back by how steady a hand you are with your stylus, which sadly is not the case on the Wii. Here, the Wii Remote will serve as your pen, and because you are drawing in thin air rather than on a solid surface, you'll instantly find that there is no real precision in your actions - ensuring that your drawings will not be as spot-on as they could be if you were mimicking the actions on the DS - making you wish that there was a way to link the Wii to your DS to use it as a mini drawing tablet. That being said, the slower cursor speed is a welcome addition which can make it a little easier to create your drawings.
Lame combat mechanics is one of many reasons that The Next Chapter is just another generic platformer.
Once you have created your customised character, you'll find yourself thrust into the game world where you'll come across creation easels - which will require you to whip out your Wii Remote and get to air drawing. These easels will appear throughout the entire game, taking players to draw a variety of objects to complete the current task. As captivating as it can sound to consistently fill the game with your own artistic creations, it can ultimately get tiresome over time. Thankfully the game comes prepackaged with templates for each object which players can utilise if they don't feel like getting their scribble on. Of course, the drawing mechanic is the main drawcard of the title and it is a fun concept in small doses, but at the end of the day, this is a platforming game with drawing elements - not a drawing game with platform elements and the heavy reliance of the drawing aspect of the game can drastically slow the pace of the platforming action, killing any aspect of game world immersion that the game could have had on the player.
As well as the creation easels, gamers will also come across action drawing areas, blue or red bordered boxes that appear in the middle of the game where players can create an object to aid their progress. Can't cross that body of water in front of you? Then draw a bridge to cross over the gap. The only restriction on players is the amount of ink that youâ€™re allowed to utilise before you must erase part of your drawing and start it again. While these drawing elements can add some interesting puzzle solving experiences to the title, all it ultimately accomplishes is point out that beneath the drawing mechanic lies a generic platform game which mostly consists of players bouncing from location to location and taking care of their enemies Super Mario Bros. style by jumping on their heads.
In addition to the single-player story mode, Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter features four multiplayer games, which will leave you scratching your head over their inclusion as they do not include anything to do with the core drawing mechanic of the game. Here's you'll find an overly simplistic and frightfully generic two-player representation of soccer, basketball, ice hockey, and volleyball titles which feel like kiddy representations of Wii Sports games. It would have been nice for the developer to get creative and put together a set of games that would draw upon the crux of what Drawn to Life is about.
In a gaming landscape full of copycats and imitators, you have to give credit where it's due and applaud the developers of Drawn to Life for attempting to provide gamers with a unique concept to play around with. While initially fun, the novelty of Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter quickly fades. It's here that it becomes painfully obvious that the core drawing mechanic isn't enough to sustain a full-length console title alone. The platforming aspects of the game are decent, but they are decidedly aged and quite ho-hum in their execution. Those looking for a platforming title with oodles of fun would be better off sinking a few hours into New Super Mario Bros. and other titles of that ilk as the scribbly shenanigans of Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter are far from picture perfect.