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Drawn to Life DS is an Odyssey that claims to take you to the very far reaches of the Land of Regular Games... to the borders of the Land of DIY.
From where you stand on your gaming platform, you can look out across the Raposa Village, and you can see for miles. What you see (apart from the encroaching cloud of darkness which you have to somehow hold at bay) are possibilities for games that allow you, player, to have just a smidgen more control over your world. At least the way it looks.
On this Odyssey, you are supposed to be taking over from where the Creator of the Raposa village left off -- you are to draw a Hero who can bring the villagers back to the village. And hold that swirly black cloud at bay before the village is engulfed in darkness.
The few remaining villagers reveal the plot. They tell you where you need to go, and what you need to do in order to move the game along. That's handy for someone like Yours Truly, who tends to wander aimlessly around in these virtual worlds waiting for lightning to strike. Or someone to tell me what to do.
What's not quite so obvious when you first arc the game up is that you will have to play in different modes. OK, it helps to start the game at the beginning instead of inadvertently starting mid-way through one of your offspring's saves.
Me: This is a very strange way to start a game. @Mr9: That's because it's not the start. Me: Why didn't it start at the start? There's something wrong with it. @Mr9: Something wrong with you, more like. I've been playing that game for ages.
However, once you get the big picture, you will discover that only one of these modes is Draw Mode. It's a bit like coming across a DIY shop on your Odyssey, where you can change the way characters, objects and accessories look. Sort of like being back in kindergarten, where you get to muddle around with mixing and matching and painting and designing.
Except not exactly. When I went to kindergarten, we were allowed to choose the way we looked in our self-portrait. If I wanted to have hair like a bird's nest, that was OK. If I wanted shoes the size of the dining-room table, that was OK too.
Don't get me wrong, Drawn to Life is a cool concept. But as is often the case with games -- and software in general -- creativity as a player has limited parameters. There are pre-made character templates, and a pre-ordained colour palette. You can design your world, arrange your pixels, move your character around, but only within the game parameters. And this is frustrating if you like experimenting and DIY. Especially because DS screen real estate is extremely tight.
@libby_ol: Lucky I can zoom in on my 'creations'. The characters are so small I need a magnifying glass. @geekdadgamer: Perhaps the Wii version would be a more visible Odyssey.
Yes, perhaps the Wii version is more visible. But somehow I have the feeling I'm always going to be frustrated by software restrictions when I'm designing my world.
(Then again, I'm not sure the average player is playing to be a megalomaniacal control freak. That's probably just me.)
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: