Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter Review
When Drawn to Life first hit the scene on the Nintendo DS, players created their own hero and level elements using the stylus as a drawing tool. After playing Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter and dealing with the frustrating inaccuracy of the Wii Remote as a drawing tool, it's clear the stylus is a far superior choice.
As you traverse worlds in The Next Chapter you come across easels that open the game's drawing program after a slow load. In this mode you're encouraged to hold the Wii Remote as you would a paintbrush; however, doodling with no direct contact to the surface on which you're drawing is as difficult as it sounds. Creating something as simple as the sun (basically a yellow circle) was a free-hand nightmare. A variety of drawing impements, stamps, and fill tools are helpful for those of us with the artistic talents of a kindergartner. But even with this toolset, the poor Wii controls make creating anything with even the slightest detail a chore. I found myself frequently using the game's pre-generated templates to avoid drawing altogether. Adding your personal touch to Drawn to Life was the title's biggest draw, but in practice it's the most discouraging activity in this game.
The Next Chapter's 2D levels are mostly standard platforming fare, with plenty of items to collect including coins, stamps, and stickers. In addition to drawing platforms to get across these levels, you can also design utility items that may or may not work, such as claws to scale walls, hot air balloons to fly over rooftops, or a monkey tail that allows you to swing across gaps. To add variety to the levels, Planet Moon added the new Action Canvas to the Wii version. When dotted lines in the form of a square or rectangle appear overhead, your scribbles in these spaces will create new ways to traverse based on the ink color you use. Blue ink creates steady platforms you can jump on, red ink creates dropping platforms you can use to climb, and green ink creates a trampoline platform to catapult you to higher areas. To get the most use of these platforms you'll need a steady hand and luck, because the poor controls turn most of your rectangular drawings into deformed hexagons that do little to help your progression. It usually takes multiple tries before you finally create something that can help you get across.
Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter's multiplayer lets two players compete head-to-head in sports minigames. Players can engage in soccer, hockey, volleyball, and basketball, as well as design their own uniforms and equipment. These games, though short and seemingly misplaced, are a fun diversion from the frustrating single-player game.
The idea of empowering user-generated art as a gameplay element is a concept that works well on the DS. However, with poor execution and clumsy controls on the Wii, you'll find more fun with a coloring book and a 64-pack of crayons than you will in Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter.