Drawn to Life is like no other video game. In this Nintendo DS game, you draw your hero, watch him or her come to life through animation, and then play with your hero in a world that you help to create. If this sounds intriguing, you're right – it is.
The game revolves around your saving a village of little creatures called Raposas from the evil doings of a character named Wilfre. Wilfre has created an army of evil shadows that look like large rain clouds covering the land. He has also torn pages from the Raposas' Book of Life, the source of all things that exist in their world, and scattered them across the land. Without those pages, crucial items have disappeared, including the moon, sun, stars, and other things.
You become the Raposas' hero and their Creator. And your first job in your new godlike role is to draw what you look like.
The game has a simple paint program. You use the DS stylus to draw within a specific template and color your creations as you wish. Whatever you decide to draw is incorporated into the game and animated. And amazingly, the animation is quite good, no matter if you draw a stick figure or a detailed puppy dog. You get to watch your hero walk, run, and jump throughout the game. But that is not all: at frequent intervals, you'll be asked to draw more objects and things that become part of this world -- more than 150 drawings in all, including platforms to walk on, weapons to use, and vehicles in which to ride.
In addition to this unique drawing aspect, the game is also a side-scrolling platform puzzler, with an adventure story about rescuing Raposas and finding the scattered pages to the Book of Life. The puzzle play is reminiscent of Mario games, with lots of moving platforms to navigate, coins to collect, and baddies to defeat. Your hero can jump on the heads of these baddies to make them disappear. At various points, you will have to use your stylus to clear out black goo that is covering the world. These platform puzzles are meant to be played by children, not seasoned gamers. They are simple enough that children can easily experience success as they work their way through the game. Even so, the game would have been better if you could save in the middle of a particularly long level.
You will experience four unique worlds as you play through 16 levels. As you find the missing Raposas and pages of the Book of Life, the Raposa Village comes back to life and expands. Therein, you will find mini-games to play, including snowball fights and wishing wells.
What makes this game so good for children is that they are in control of what their gaming world looks like and they can modify or customize it as they play. By drawing so many things, they become vested in the outcome of the game. Plus, they can influence the mood of the game by their drawings. A dark ominous cloud creates a feeling of foreboding, whereas a bright blue cloud creates a happier place to play. You can also create a silly mood by drawing zany things.
While the opportunity to draw so much of the game makes Drawn to Life special, you don't need to be an artist to play. Even the simplest drawings works well when animated. This is the most unique Nintendo DS we have seen to date – don't miss this one.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.