|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Altron||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 15, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Around this time last year, the launch of Drawn to Life on the DS garnered attention from gamers across the age spectrum. Unsurprisingly, the quirky title quickly soaked up positive feedback for its more unique aspects.
The intriguingly creative experiment combined some well worn designs with a robust drawing program that allowed your scribbles to animate and be incorporated into the gameplay. While the games straightforward platforming adventure framework was nothing incredibly new, the compelling story and ability to hand-draw hundreds of your own elements made it a hit.
With Drawn to Life developer 5th Cell having moved on to other projects, another studio was given the task of taking the game and refining it to the most potent form of kiddy-crack imaginable. This was done by completely stripping out the soul of the original, slapping a popular cartoon character and his pals everywhere possible, and making a few adjustments to the flow of the game. The result, Drawn to Life: SpongeBob SquarePants Edition, lacks the charm and depth of the original, but it still does a good job of capturing the fun of doodling items on the fly and watching them become part of an interactive world.
The adorable Raposa and their endearing tale chronicling the struggle to rebuilding a world shrouded in darkness and despair with your help as the role of great creator is gone completely. Also, the Legend of Zelda-style adventure sequences from the Raposa village that served as the central hub linking the platforming portions of the game were left on the cutting room floor. Though lamentable, these and other changes were made to create a game for a more focused demographic built around the stable foundation 5th Cell has already setup. Its mostly the same platformer-heavy gameplay with a completely fresh coat of paint young SpongeBob fans will go bonkers over.
SpongeBobs segue into the Drawn to Life concept is conveniently done by tying the game into an old episode from the cartoon series. When a seafaring artist drops his magic pencil into to the sea, it winds up landing near Bikini Bottom and falls into the hands of Patrick and SpongeBob. In sketching a crudely drawn version of SpongeBob, they accidentally unleash mayhem. DoodleBob leaps to life and goes on a rampage delivering havoc to the denizens under the sea. They quickly sketch their own wacky hero (whose appearance is left completely up to your whimsy) to try to put a lid on the situation.
Your characters home at Bikini Bottom serves as the central hub area. You can deck out your abode with new goodies, purchase tons of unlockables at the local shop, select a pal to accompany you on missions, and engage in other activities. The SpongeBob Edition feels even more platforming oriented than the original, mainly due to the lack of downtime or a more developed form of transition between the different levels. Most of the time, youll be hopping from one level to the next.
With over 20 levels set in different environments, the scenery and setup changes frequently. However, the basic gameplay does not. Each area lets you run and jump around, pummel enemies with a few stock moves, collect coins to spend on unlocking bonus content, rescue trapped residents from cages, interact with various switches, and collect the key required to make it out of the end of the level. Youll occasionally come across special levels that let you ride vehicles and provide a break from the platforming. The infrequent boss battles are actually quite entertaining and well thought-out.