Let’s face it: there are a multitude of titles that tend to be swept under the bed of the gaming populace. Whether they arrive there due to poor marketing, lackluster sales, or simply because of lukewarm reviews, not all belong there. There are, indeed, hidden gems to be found where you would least expect them. It’s time for these games to be given a second chance. No longer should they have to sulk in darkness, fearing that no one will ever blow off their dusty case and place them in their respective system.
With that, I bring you Infinite Rediscovery, a weekly feature that will bring you a new game every week that time (or the masses) forgot, shunned, or didn’t notice at all – because every game deserves a fair chance.
When a platformer is introduced, calling for you to draw your own protagonist and several locations, weapons, and level mechanics along the way, the natural response for a glut of gamers is to ignore it completely, as it is assumed that it will be horrible. That really isn’t the case with THQ’s Drawn to Life, as I learnt after playing it through the past week or so. Marketed as a game solely for children, it lost much of its steam along the way and, thus, was left to rot on the shelf. I took the plunge and completed the game. What I found was a delightful, light-hearted platformer that gives you the freedom to be as creative as you want while still retaining solid game mechanics and impressive visuals, even if there are some issues along the way.
Drawn to Life finds you in the shoes of the mythical Creator, who watches over cat-like creatures known as the Raposa. Ominous dark clouds have descended on their village and it’s up to you to create a hero that will deliver them from evil. What that translates to is the fact that you can draw your own protagonist. Though you are limited to the relatively small colour palette, this is the biggest draw for me. There’s something magical about being able to draw your own character and see it in full motion within the levels. Once you’ve drawn a character, you will embark on quests to return pages to a magical book that the Creator has compiled. The goal is to bring back all of the Raposa, who have left town fearing the clouds, and restore the village to its former glory.
The quest to find a page takes place in a gorgeous 2-D side-scrolling world. During each mission, you set out to find pages, entering a corresponding gate located in the Raposa village. You will be required to draw here and there, however, and that remains one of the most noteworthy aspects of the game. Drawn game elements range from drawing full-fledged aspects of the world to simply coloring in vehicles, buildings, animals, or platforms that were laid out for you. Feel free to be as silly, creative, or as vulgar as you wish – it’s your game.
It’s true that the game employs the same mechanics that we have seen before in almost every platformer made in the past. However, that’s the tried-and-true method, so it’s almost expected. And yet, there is a bit of strategy needed to finish each level. There are three Raposas to find and four pages to scout out in each level. With a few diverging paths along the way, you must methodically search each area until you find what you’re looking for. I found that this made things a bit less linear, encouraging exploration of the entire level rather than just speeding through it.
The entire game has a whimsical feel that is lacking in much of what we choose to play. The game itself is not a difficult game and it’s not terribly original, but it is a solid and well-made game. The cheery Raposas, bubbly music tracks, and bizarre creations you can come up with, via the DS stylus, combine to make Drawn to Life a wholly adorable and solid package that many will look over simply because of its strange packaging and lack of marketing. It makes up for what it lacks in innovation (like that truly means anything these days) with truckloads of charm. It can be completed very quickly, in a few hours if you choose to sit down and play it all at the same time, but it’s just a fun and refreshing way to spend your gaming time. If you are at all a fan of platformers or games with luscious 2D graphics, then you should at least give this a chance.