Hands-on: Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter (DS)

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Hands-on: Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter (DS)
5TH Cell received a lot of attention at E3 for its DS platform adventure Scribblenauts, but that wasn't the only DS game 5TH Cell brought to the show. THQ had a demo station set up running the DS sequel to the company's first DS hit, Drawn to Life. Planet Moon's (different) Wii version of Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter was also on display, but we were unable to spend any time with it.
Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter takes the main mechanic of the original -- the ability to draw not only your hero, but elements of the in-game world as well, something that still feels fresh -- and improves upon both the drawing and the game integration. Your hero now can have up to four arms and legs, any or all of which can be resized; you can use up to 64 colors to render your character. This time, you'll be able to choose a weapon from the start -- a gun, melee, or flail-type weapon (which you draw), and pick up the rest as the game continues. Most importantly, you'll be able to draw different forms for your character -- more on that in a bit.

The existing art has been refreshed as well. 5TH Cell's Matthew Pellicane was beaming with pride at the new hub world, a village built on the back of a giant sea turtle. The village is no longer a tile-based map, but a prerendered environment composed from a single piece of detailed 2D artwork from 5TH Cell artist Edison Yan.

The one brief level we played took place in a cave full of lava pits. Early in the stage, we were faced with an extra-long chasm with a few floating squares. The squares, Pellicane explained to us, were connection points for the new Action Drawing lines. We were able to make one platform each out of each kind of "ink" : one which just made a platform in the shape of our line, another which would have had gravity had we not anchored it, and a third that created a sort of trampoline.

We were also able to experiment with the game's forms. Over the course of the game, your character gains the ability to morph into both a "spider" and a "blob" form, both of which can be drawn. The blob can squeeze through small passages, and can absorb an enemy, using the added weight and momentum as a weapon for a rolling attack. The spider can walk on walls and ceilings, swing from webs, and immobilize enemies with a web attack. The addition of these two mobility-increasing forms is not only fun, but it suggests a Metroidvania element to the game, wherein you can return to previous levels with new abilities, and access previously unreachable elements.

Combine that with the heavier emphasis on platforming that we saw in the level (which was much more linear and involved more jumping, in much more of a Mario style), and Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter should be of more interest to the gamers who found the first game too leisurely.
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