Otaku USA Magazine
Drawn To Life

Publisher: THQ
Developer: 5th Cell
System: Nintendo DS
Available: Now
Rating: E

There’s a lot you can do with two screens and a stylus pen, but let’s face it, most developers ignore the obvious: drawing! One of the best uses of the touch-screen for drawing is still Nintendo’s built in Pictochat program, which is notorious, of course, for rampant genital abuse. Okay, maybe that’s why there aren’t a whole lot of games that implement this form of artistic expression. As a species, and I’m speaking purely for the guys here, our natural survival instinct is to draw a penis when given a pen. You can’t fight that kind of innate ability, can you?

Well, Drawn to Life is sure as heck going to try. From the very start, this cutesy platformer eschews traditional hero design in favor of granting the player god-like control over a puppet. You can skin this mannequin in any way you desire by using the stylus to fill in squares for the head, torso, arms and legs. With this unique setup, you can make your story revolve around any protagonist you like, from a ninja to an anthropomorphic automobile to, well, a wiener.

But rid your mind of such foul thoughts, this is a game for everyone to enjoy! Now that this decidedly non-phallic character is under the control of you, The Creator, you must help the Raposas rid their land of evil shadow creatures that have robbed them of pages from the Book of Life, pages that contain crucial templates for things like the moon and the stars, for instance.

As you slowly bring the village back to life, you’ll enter doors that take you away from this birds-eye view world and into a more traditional side-scrolling layout. Don’t think you’re done drawing, though. As the game progresses, you’ll be doodling your own versions of floating platforms, projectile weapons, spaceships, and so on.

The system for all of this artwork is pretty impressive. You can zoom in and out even when you’re just coloring something in, so the level of detail at which you can customize something is pretty solid. You could also be really lazy about it, but where’s the fun in that? Make your timeless sprites something that you’ll actually want to roam the world with, even if the end result does end up being somewhat tasteless.

 You’ll be glad you did, too, because the world beyond the drawing tablet is something you’ve explored before. While Drawn to Life isn’t exactly a generic endeavor, there’s a certain by-the-numbers formula to it that everyone should be pretty familiar with. The stages inside the doors certainly look nice, and the enemies and non-drawn NPCs animate very fluidly, but you’ll almost wish you could take that pen even deeper into the game, maybe down to its most core code, and start tooling around with the very play mechanics themselves.

Drawn to Life is nevertheless overflowing with potential. The concept alone begs for most every DS game to have some form of character creation for use with the touch screen. Imagine an RPG with a cartoon you as the hero or heroine. I’m down with that, and if this comes to fruition then I promise that I’ll never draw anything dirty on my DS ever again!