Here at the turn of the year, there are no exciting new games to review. So I'll turn my attention to a good game I overlooked a few months ago called Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter.
There's nothing groundbreaking about the action parts of The Next Chapter. It feels and plays like a lot of platform games - sort of like Mario and Sonic, but slower and simpler.
You run from left to right. You jump onto platforms. You swing from vines. You swim underwater. You collect coins floating in the air. You bop mushroom-like men on the head. You get the picture.
Here's where things get interesting. Large parts of the environments that you run through, from a jungle to an ice-bridge land and a shadow world, are not colored in. So you must draw bridges to cross, platforms to jump across, guns to shoot with, and cars to drive in. In fact, you begin The Next Chapter by drawing yourself. Then, while you're playing, you see this drawing of yourself running and hopping along, arms and legs moving fluidly.
The things you draw interact with you on the screen. I drew butterflies that fluttered above my head.
I've been fascinated by the response to this game for the Wii and the DS. Some adult DS gamers don't like the Wii version, because it's harder to draw using the Wii wand than the handheld DS stylus. True, that. My Wii drawings are like a 5-year-old's. But I prefer the Wii version, because it's what I played first and got accustomed to.
My criticism is basic. Load times are long, so you can wait up to 15 seconds for a canvas to pop up on the screen.
The Next Chapter lets kids draw creatively, solve puzzle problems, and play through an action-adventure that's not a big bloody mess. Some adults might like it, but it's probably best for kids under 10, casual gamers and illustrators looking for an art game.