Sadbear lives! Once again we’ve turned Crayola Frankenstein and breathed life into the greatest platforming mascot that never was. Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Alex Kidd – all pretenders crushed under Sadbear’s lumbering trunks. But is nostalgia for this unlikely hero – our avatar from the original DS Drawn To Life – enough to warrant a second outing? We fear not. Performed a second time, the magical act of creation seems tired, an obvious parlor trick. ‘How they do that?’ becomes ‘why they do that?’ Developers Planet Moon don’t have the answers.
Before, Drawn To Life felt like loose platforming with a redeemably goofy twist: you design the art assets (avatar, platforms, switches). Blown up on a TV screen it looks more and more like a game half finished. Doodles lose the resolution needed to appreciate them and a zoomed-out view (compared to the DS version) reveals barren level design. Yes, randomly slapping down platforms does technically result in a platformer, but there’s no peril or thrill in these jumps – our gran could speedrun this tepid mess.
Of course, you’re not meant to see any of this. You’re meant to be having too much fun turning said platforms into clouds or anatomical bits to realize they’ve been puked into the level space. In the vast number of drawing interludes you can almost feel Planet Moon waving their arms to keep you distracted. Problem is, they have nothing worth drawing – after your avatar and a couple of vehicles you’re on to bushes, butterflies and litter. We have to draw waste? Forget drawn to life, the joker responsible should be hung, drawn and quartered.
There are minor distractions. Action Drawings let you scrawl directly onto levels, but these basic physics puzzles are limited to confined boxes when WiiWare’s Max and the Magic Marker builds a better, freeform game out of the concept. Buggies and hot air balloons get you off the platforms… and into the world’s easiest stunt racer and shoot-’em-up. Multiplayer hockey and footy are so simplified they make Mario Strikers Charged look like PES. For every idea there’s a realization as empty as the space in which you first doodle your hero. Sadbear deserves better.
Oct 27, 2009