It's a credit to the original Drawn to Life's concept and quality that we're still interested in the follow-up despite 5th Cell's absence and its attached license -- SpongeBob SquarePants.
IGN previewed the customizable platformer, and while it doesn't revolutionize the draw-your-adventure formula, it's a "polished, Nickelodeon-ized" take on it. We've never played any games from Alton, the developer taking the reins from 5th Cell, so we'll have to try Drawn to Life: SpongeBob SquarePants Edition ourselves before developing an opinion with any firmness to it.
Word has it, a two-player versus mode will be included, so look forward to pitting grotesquely phallic avatars against crude renditions of cartoon characters -- Donatello, Heathcliff, skies the limit!
First, watch this awesome video. It's an awesome video, right? A YouTube user 007craft remade The Legend of Zelda, from the first screen through the first dungeon, in the Xbox Live Arcade version of N+. It's wonderfully bizarre to see the screens so faithfully rendered in a completely different gameplay style. Simple things like reaching doors at the top of the screen become acrobatic struggles.
Have you ever used one game to recreate another game or its elements? Maybe you've edited all of the textures in your Animal Crossing town, Drawn Mario to Life, or composed some game music in Mario Paint. When you get access to an in-game editor, is making references to other games the first thing you do?
Having had a day or so to absorb the news (oh man, that was totally unintentional, but we're leaving it) of a SpongeBob SquarePants-themed version of Drawn to Life, we're somewhat less negative about it and more ... conflicted.
Basically, we don't know if we should feel bad for the original game or happy for the license. Being based on a good game means that SpongeBob SquarePants Drawn to Life has at least an outside chance of not being terrible, which puts it immediately ahead of just about every other licensed game for kids. However, the converse is also true: being stuck with some random license may sink what was great about DTL.
Of course, there's also the separate issue of the game being passed off to another developer. We're pretty sure that doesn't bode well.
How can you tell that Drawn to Life was a success? Publisher THQ is making full use of the IP, with a new licensed spinoff ... Drawn to Life: SpongeBob SquarePants. It's a Drawn to Life game, developed by a company called Altron and not5th Cell, set in the SpongeBob SquarePants universe, featuring a story in which lazy sea creatures SpongeBob and Patrick are captured by the pencil-drawn SpongeBob clone DoodleBob. The player creates a hero in order to rescue the pair and defeat DoodleBob.
We don't know what to say. We thought we'd be happy to hear about more Drawn to Life, especially one with a two-player mode, but we didn't expect this. Doesn't putting the game in an established setting kind of defeat the create-it-yourself appeal of Drawn to Life?
5th Cell's Creative Director, Jeremiah Slaczka, likes the DS. He has good reason to, since his company's debut game Drawn to Life is a success (to an unspecified degree) in the U.S., Australia, and Korea (it "did decent, not as well as Australia" in Europe). For the Korean release, a contest was even held to name the game. "They had, like, 20,000 submissions or something."
After a successful stint making mobile games -- in both original IPs and licenses -- for THQ Wireless, the company got a chance to move to the DS. "We're done with mobile," Slaczka told me. For that matter, they're done with licenses. "We only do original IPs, no licenses. Except for Star Wars -- I'd do Star Wars."
There's the upcoming Wii version of Drawn to Life...
Can't talk about that.
Are there more projects coming up?
Yes, we are working on the DS. We are working on an unannounced title -- I'm not sure when it's supposed to be announced. We're basically doing two unannounced projects right now ...
It's a big day for 5th Cell news! A job listing was just found on JobSeeker.com looking for programmers for upcoming "original IP titles." That could mean more Drawn to Life or more original (as in not already a game) IP's. In either case, it's a great opportunity for someone who could meet 5th Cell's awesomely high-flying requirements.
A good candidate for their programming position should have "2-4 years experience in the game industry or 3-5 years in Information Technology" and "At least one (1) shipped Nintendo DS or Game Boy Advance title." We've written about a bunch of shipped Nintendo DS titles. That totally counts, right? Right?
A jaunt over to their website reveals more job openings, including a more attainable "junior programmer" position and a job requiring experience with GameCube or Wii development. That makes us think they're looking toward the home console space as well -- good news!
We're happy to see that the company is doing well enough to, you know, be able to afford some new folks. Drawn to Life was an exceptional first effort, and we want to see more from the talented developer.
Drawn to Life must have been a success (VGChartz says 200,000 copies), because THQ is localizing the game for the Korean market. We can't tell you exactly what the title is, but machine translation gives us something like "Drawn, to sprout! The world which I make!" which definitely conveys the right kind of idea.
5th Cell's first DS game was definitely one of the most creative and best-made platformers of the year, and we couldn't be happier to see it finding a worldwide audience. Lots of Korean gamers love 2D, as well, so this has the potential to be even bigger over there than in the U.S.
Likely positioning this deal as an incentive for Christmas shoppers to purchase family-oriented titles for younger gamers, Best Buy is throwing in a $5.00 gift card with every video game purchase from its selection of E (Everyone) and E10+ (Everyone 10+) ESRB-rated offerings. Here's a list of the electronic retailer's DS games currently on that list:
Ben 10: Protector of Earth - $29.99
Cars (GBA) - $19.99
Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker - $29.99
Drawn to Life - $29.99
Jam Sessions - $19.99
Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck - $29.99
Ratatouille: Food Frenzy - $29.99
Aside from Jam Sessions, these aren't really great bargains, but if you were planning on eventually buying one of these games anyway, why not do it now and pick up a free gift card with your order?
This Drawn to Life-themed DS case is only available in Australia, which is great for Australian fans but heartbreaking for us. It represents the game exactly like it should, covered as it is with the game's beautiful, full-color promotional art. Every aspect of the game (that wasn't drawn by the player) is drawn wonderfully, so featuring this art on the front of the case is great.
Inside, along with the obvious spaces for a DS and games the case includes two styli and, appropriately, a small whiteboard with a Drawn to Life dry erase marker, with which you can draw things, if not to life, to vaguely toxic-smelling. The email from 5th Cell that contained these images suggests that a U.S. release may be possible if there was enough interest. We're sure there is! People like Drawn to Life, and they like putting their game systems into things.
If you've been considering picking up 5th Cell's great Drawn to Life, you might want to think about grabbing one from Best Buy. It's on sale right now for $19.99, as reported in their weekly circular. That's a great price for an original 2D platformer! Although if you weren't planning on buying it, your expenditures for the next few months have probably been very carefully planned out.
Also of interest: they've got Spectrobes for $14.99. If you're in a more Disney/ Pokemon/ whatever-else-Spectrobes-is mood.
5th Cell's Drawn to Life is one of the best games for kids on the Nintendo DS. Don't misinterpret that as a dismissal: there's plenty to like here, especially for anyone for whom the idea of an Actraiser/Animal Crossing mashup with totally customizable characters sounds appealing (which should be everyone). Children, especially, may find an infinitely entertaining toy in the game's drawing tool, which engages the imagination in a way that most linear video games cannot.
The game casts you as both an unseen deity called the Creator, with the power to draw elements of the world (given possession of the appropriate page of the "Book of Life"), and a sort of golem sent down by the Creator to protect the town (which you name). Of course, your first task as Creator is to define the appearance of your hero; multiple designs can be saved and switched at any time, and you can edit your hero's appearance at any point in the game.
The town is covered in shadowy black clouds; most of the (adorable, big-eared) Raposa inhabitants have gone missing, and it's up to the Creator and its avatar to clear the darkness and rescue the Raposa. The Mayor and the few remaining Raposa coordinate your efforts to regain Book of Life pages, sending the golem into action stages after a certain page, in order to regain the item desired (everything from the sun to the sign on the town restaurant).
We asked you a while back to draw something in a demo version of the Drawn to Life character editor. But now that (we assume) some of you have the game and have chosen an avatar for real, we want to know what it is. How did you choose to represent yourself (or, we guess, how would you, for those of you who want to play along with no purchase necessary)?
Did you draw yourself? Your friend? A zombie? A robot? A puppy? A pile of puppies? The Kool-Aid Man? Mario? Wario? Ernie Keebler? Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's Rat Fink? Some random scribbles? Swamp Thing? Ace Frehley? Potatoes? "The Scream"? Robocop? James Pond: Robocod? James Bond, Jr.? Law & Order's Jerry Orbach? Cap'n Crunch? The other Cap'n Crunch?
Well, okay, we know what many of you chose. Don't tell us about that.