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September 22, 2014

Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter (Wii) (Part 2)

Drawn To Life Month
Drawn To Life - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
The Next Chapter (Wii) - Part 1

Hello, and welcome back! Now, we know Wilfre's goal: Find legendary artifacts that will let him make special ink so that he can reshape the world as he wants! Uh oh. That's not good. Thankfully, if the Hero gets those items first, then Wilfre's plan will be thwarted. We've got a Crystal Mask and a pen and pencil, now we need the Eternal Furnace and branches from the Tree of Ages. Only problem: It's not actually Wilfre, in my opinion, so the heroes are facing a “Not-Wilfre”, if you will.
Piratebeard always seems to know where to find legendary items, so the Hero goes to ask him where to get the Eternal Furnace. The pirate, jolly as ever, says that it can be found in the Icy Wastes, the third world. So the Hero goes through the Gate to the Icy Wastes.

No need to give me the cold shoulder.
Let me break the ice.

We need skates? Go figure. No, wait. Go figure-skating.
Before the Hero can really start exploring, however, he has to find the page for a sword, which he equips. And Gosh is it an awesome sword! Or maybe it's not that awesome. Depends on how well you draw. The pre-made template looks more like a saber, but that doesn't matter, it's still pretty cool.

But for some heroes, it's not enough, so after they return, Mari tasks the Hero and Jowee with finding ice skates in the Icy Wastes' next level. Because it's an ice world and it's slippery.


The avatar ventures into the second Icy Wastes level, finds the skates, and finds out that they're really great! Using them goes faster than running!

Talking about speed... kind of an odd timing to bring this up, but there's another reason I'm not a fan of this game. The loading times. Before every level, after every level, as well as before and after you go into Canvas Mode to draw an object, there is a loading screen that can take up to ten seconds. I didn't pull out my chronometer or anything, but I can tell you, those loading times are pretty bad. We've got to be thankful, though; It's not as bad as, say. “Sonic '06” (just a random example, I assure you; no, really! I swear!), but it's still kind of annoying.

What doesn't really help, either, is that every level asks you to draw many things. Oddly enough, most of the time, each level will contain one, maybe two important things, like platforms, buttons, tools... But all the other things you can draw are just decorations for the level. What's the point? If there's no point in drawing those things aside from “It looks pretty”, I'm sorry, I'm not gonna do it. In the first game, everything you drew in the levels had a purpose. Everything you made would help you go forward. The decorations were in the village, and even then, most of the time you just had to color a picture that had been made already. Here? Sorry, the decorations are pointless. Yet another reason why this is the lesser one of the series.

You'll still have Cookie's banya foods- Oh.
So, the Hero and Jowee return to the village... but now it's snowing! Uh oh! The main character goes to ask Farmer Brown about it, since he's a farmer and, well, I guess farmers know stuff about the weather other people don't. Sailors can tell whether tomorrow will have good or bad weather depending on the direction the wind blows. Yet, Brown doesn't say why the snow is there, he just says to remove it because the banya will die if they don't. The hero just has to find and defeat five yetis in the next level to stop the snow. ...Wait. How does that work? You defeat yetis, the snow stops? Wait, what?

Well, at least you get to crush them with a motorized vehicle.

Wedding? The Creator wasn'r told about this! Who are you?
Once the yetis are defeated (Urgh...) and the Hero has returned with Jowee to the village, they see that the snow has stopped. Oh, good! But now there's another problem. Two new Raposa characters, DJ and Erika, are about to get married, but the snow has killed all the roses; and in Raposa tradition, giving a rose to the loved one during the wedding is a promise of a long-lasting relationship. Guess what? There's a special rose at the end of the next level! And the Hero has to go get it! Hey, didn't we have to find an Eternal Furnace first???

Erika, you're already in your wedding gown? So early?

The Hero and Jowee come back with the frozen rose, only to find out that Mike has returned from a trip (apparently, he was gone helping other villages, or stuff, because he's all about machines and has helped the village a lot even though they still treat him like the “weird-ear guy”). But as soon as he arrived, we went though the Icy Wastes gate to look for the Eternal Furnace. Because obviously a human can survive in the cold without any winter gear.

Still, after another long level, the Hero finds Mike, who says he knows where the Eternal Furnace is. Thank God, only one more level in this snow world!

You know what they say: Follow your dreams, unless they're
STUPID!

I swear, that dark creature's shape is familiar...
The Hero goes through another long level and reaches the furnace... just in time to see the shadowy figure once again. I have to repeat it: This doesn't look like Wilfre at all. The dark Raposa leaves with the Eternal Furnace. Oh, great. Long levels, lots of puzzles, and in the end we don't even succeed! Not cool!

If that shadowy creature attacks the Tree of Ages, things could get ugly. And black all over. So the avatar's new task is to reach the tree. For this, it has to enter the gate leading to the Eastern Winds, a set of floating islands. Sadly, it's nearly impossible to go through these levels without wings, so take a wild guess what your first task is.

Yeah, yeah. I'm going. Where's my paycheck?

This is a fight-or-flight situation. Or it's both at once.
And so, the Hero gets the wings, and Jowee who has been following him all this time expresses great joy at the idea of flying with the Creator's avatar. When they come back to the village, they learn from Chef Cookie (who starts with an immediate “Zut alors!” - villains come and go, but stereotypes are forever...) that the village's water supply has run dry and they need to repair the windmill if they want to collect water again. Guess who has to go get the stuff to repair it? The avatar, of course!

In this tedious level (By this point, they all feel needlessly long), the Creator draws the windmills' blades, and they appear on all the windmills in the levels. They also appear on the windmill in the village. Phew! But now, another problem appears. The lighthouse has stopped functioning, and as Mike says, this could be dangerous for the crews aboard incoming ships at night, as they would not see where to go. But since there doesn't seem to be a way to repair the lighthouse yet, we'll have to resort to Crazy Solution A: Use ultra-powerful fireflies in a bottle.

And on the way to the fireflies, we see even more puzzles.
It's really not the place for that.
Wish I was making that up.

Either way, the Hero and Jowee (who really tags along for every single freaking level, ain't that weird?) go on the hunt for fireflies and come back with a bottle full of them. Great! Now, we hear that Cookie wants to ask the husband and wife to-be what kind of cake they'd like... But the lovers are nowhere to be found. They went to look for places to spend their honeymoon... and thus they ventured into the Eastern Winds gate into the next level. AND OF COURSE, YOU HAVE TO GO GET THEM.

Carried away? You're lucky to be still alive! You IDIOT.
I think this game annoys me...
ARE THEY MORONS OR WHAT? It's dangerous out there! Not-Wilfre is going around, stealing the items for its next plan, the black ink monsters resurface, and there's tons of troubles! Seriously, there couldn't be a worse time to go in that part of the world! Heck, with all the traps in the Eastern Winds, I doubt it's safe for Raposa to go there at all! Yes, you have to go save the lovers. No, I still don't bother naming them again, because their appearance this far into the game without any warning or preceding signs means they were tacked into the plot as an excuse to put more levels. This B-plot comes the Hell out of nowhere, and these Raposa are unknown to the Hero, unlike the other villagers... Mike was worth saving because he was known, thanks to the first game... What's the point of presenting two Raposa characters and give them next to no characterization aside from “they're a couple”? And, like that wasn't enough, making them the characters to save during one mission? ...Urgh. Heck, I have a feeling DJ was a musician or something, because of his large headphones, but there's nothing we can tell from Erika's appearance!

Doesn't matter. The Creator's puppet goes to save them and comes back. Let's get down to brass tacks: Time to look for Wilfre! Galileo (remember him?) has spotted large ink monsters deep into the Eastern Winds, so the Hero has to go investigate and defeat them, if these things really are monsters. And gosh were there a lot of monsters! I sense a final confrontation coming...

Once the giant black bats are defeated (in a level with a puzzle that takes minutes to be completed – as if the levels weren't already long enough!) and the Hero returns to the village, Mari urges it to get the branches from the Tree of Ages, FAST!

Hey, I'm gonna try to do it fast, but those levels are way too long! I'm sorry if it takes me more than 10 minutes, okay?

By the way, I almost forgot to add this: You know I praised the B-plot of the original Drawn To Life game, with Mari struggling in her training as new Mayor, and feeling too much weight on her shoulders? Well, it's not there as much in this game, but it's definitely there. Mari is very stressed, she still has problems stopping quarrels, the thing with Wilfre's return is deeply affecting her... She's almost a secondary character this time around, but at least the game acknowledges that she is still a young Mayor who cannot yet do everything right and still feels the pressure caused by Wilfre's attacks. Or, rather, Non-Wilfre's attacks. Whichever you see fit. She didn't go from beginner Mayor to great Mayor in the timespan between the two games, and that's pretty good. Kudos to this game for incorporating that aspect.

The Hero and Jowee go in the last level of the game... and discover that the Tree of Ages has vanished! Oh no! How can we solve that? Well, the avatar finds a canvas that let him draw an acorn from which will grow the Tree of Ages. Further in the level, you draw a rain cloud to pour water on the acorn. Yep, we'll make it grow.


Hey!

After the tree has grown back, you find a canvas to make the leaves, and voilà, the Tree of Ages is complete and ready to give some of its branches. FINALLY! (Side-note: That last part of the level had many puzzle elements that made the level freaking long. Like, half an hour, maybe more. 30 MINUTES FOR A SINGLE LEVEL, DAMMIT. I was tempted to use the worse F-word, that's telling you how much I hated that part!)

Funny, I expected the Tree of Ages to look... um... prettier?

The avatar and Jowee return to the village victorious, with the branches from the Tree of Life. At the village, Circi goes to the City Hall and starts... gloating? She has all the legendary items? She calls Wilfre “my snookums”???

*gasp!!!!!!*

WHAT THE HELL?


Okay, I knew I had a reason to hate you, I just wasn't sure
what it was. Now I know.
We had a traitor in our ranks! Circi, the girl no one knew, the newcomer who happened to be close to Mari and Jowee at the start... This sounded fishy from the very beginning! I knew I was smelling trouble! Circi says she's got the Eternal Furnace with her, and uses all the objects to make Creation Ink. Oh, crap...

What the Hell is wrong with these girls who fall for dark, brooding types? “I can change him, I can change him”, screw that crap. I'd make an Edward Cullen joke here, but it's not even worth it! Circi, you're betraying your entire species only to bring back the one you consider your love... even though he is the one who almost brought this entire world to extinction, and by going his path, you're becoming just as awful as he was!

You loved that egotistical jerkass?
...You have issues.
Obviously, my lecture doesn't work, so Circi (who was the shadowy figure – I KNEW I was right to call it Not-Wilfre! Those streaks of red hair were a clue!) carries through with her plan to revive Wilfre thanks to the Creation Ink... The problem is that if she wants to bring Wilfre back to life, she needs to draw him. And she just can't do that right, there's always something wrong. And her failed attempts keep piling up, until they form a large creature of black goo... which engulfs Circi. Alas, poor traitor. We'll miss you... Or will we? Are you worth remembering? I doubt it.

Bam, you're dead. How do you like that now?
Sorry, I just have no patience for stupidity today.

But now, it's time for the final boss fight! The river of black goo has covered the village, all the Raposa are in danger! And the Crystal Mask is controlling the goo monsters! As a result, the final boss in this game actually looks like a voodoo doll made out of a mask, a furnace and branches. Points for the creativity... I suppose...

The Crystal Mask as a head, the furnace as body, the branches
as limbs... We've got a ridiculous monster here!

Holy crap, that thing is huge!
This is a long and difficult battle – thankfully Mari, who has found a place on top of the Town Hall, often gives hearts to refill the Hero's HP. The voodoo monster's head leaves its body and flies around, and it has to be punched while in this form; after which it returns to its body, and then the body must be hit numerous times. Lather, rinse, repeat until finally, the voodoo Wilfre monster thing is no more.

The river of black ink vanishes along with the Legendary Items and Circi, whose body is never found. Jowee is all happy to see the darkness gone, and then praises Mari's leadership for leading them through this new crisis. And does the Creator get any from of reward?? Nope. Everyone in the village celebrates.

The end!

Well, gee, learn not to trust every single Raposa you meet. I got a bad feeling
you're going to meet some undesirable Raposa folks sometime soon.

THAT HAIR! I KNEW I HAD SEEN IT SOMEWHERE!
I'm torn up about this one. Is it good? Is it bad? First off, the plot. It's not as interesting as the first game, but there are some good elements. Wilfre isn't there, but his influence is felt. All your favorite Raposa are there and many of them contribute, either by asking the Hero a favor, or by giving it some clues. The idea of Wilfre's return is a scary thought, and collecting Legendary Items is a good idea. Sadly it comes crashing down at the reveal that Circi was the shadowy figure all along, which didn't have much foreshadowing. No pun intended with “shadow”. I mean, the only clue was streaks of red in the shadowy figure's hair! This plot twist came out of nowhere, as there were no in-story clues, only hints based on the shadowy figure's appearance. Aside from that, there's only one plot thread that I really disliked, the one about the newlyweds, because it felt tacked on and unnecessary, just an idea to put more levels in a game that didn't need that many. But at the end, you just don't feel as much for this plot as you do for the ones in the handheld Drawn To Life games.

What makes me cringe is the playability. The levels are long and tedious, and when I say it, I really mean it. The original game ended with rather maze-like levels, but remained simple. For this one, the levels turn into mazes pretty early on, though it's still simple to navigate... until you reach the puzzle parts of the levels. To go with Action canvas, the developers have put in a lot of puzzle elements. Many of the things you create through the journey also come and take a part into the puzzles. Sometimes, in order to progress, you need to solve a puzzle that will then grant you access to the next zone. Here's the problem, though: With the many canvas scattered around the worlds and the length of the levels as they are already, adding these puzzles only makes them LONGER and, as a result, even more annoying. I'm all for smart platforming with puzzles, but don't make your levels too long! You've got 24 of those! You think it's not so bad? Each level takes minimum 5 minutes, not counting the canvas. If you get stuck at a puzzle, it can take even longer. And the final level? Filled with those goddamn near-impossible levels!

Talking about the canvas, I mentioned this before: In many of the levels, one or two canvas are important and required to complete the level. The others? Filler. There's over three canvas in every level, but most of them are just decorations. What's the point of those? There is no point to those. They just make the levels go on for even longer because you can't always tell, on your first playthrough, whether or not you'll need that object later. It lengthens the levels for no reason other than “add something pretty!” The only one I actually did was defacing Wilfre's paintings. Because those were funny, at least.

I'm not even getting on the subject of the loading screens! There's so much loading in this game that you'll find yourself rolling your eyes each time it happens. As I said earlier, it's not long, but it happens often enough to be annoying by the end. Again, this isn't “Sonic '06”, it's not an extreme amount of loading, but it's still pretty bad for a Wii game.

There's no major good song in this game, nothing that elevates above any other. The graphics look very nice, though. The worlds are still very detailed, and the switch from 2D to 3D has been done perfectly. These levels might be long, but many are drop-dead gorgeous. I even like the 3D models of the Raposa! They look like cuddly dolls! Or plushies! They all look adorable! 5Th Cell's got some merchandising to do with these! Circi fell for Wilfre, how many girls would buy a Wilfre doll??? Or any Rapo-doll, in fact? I want a Mari doll and a Jowee doll, right now!

I'm Rapo-bored. Let's Rapo-do something. Let's
play Rapo-sports on a Rapo-Wii and try to give a Rapo-damn!

By the way, I should mention the mini-game mode, which has been added to this game: There's a Raposa Coliseum in which you can play four different sports with a friend. Wait a second, Drawn To Life with a multiplayer option? Nonsense! However, I must admit that while the four sport mini-games don't interest me much, it's definitely a nice touch. Fed up of the levels? Blow off some steam in a soccer match!

Or hockey. That works too. After all the stupid, I'm in the
mood for some hockey violence. I'll just imagine that the
ones I hit are the idiots from this game.

Final words, this isn't the best game I've played, nor the worst. This is definitely not the best Drawn To Life game; in fact, if I ranked the three games on a list, I'd put the DS games in first and second place, and this one would be third. Sorry, this is “the worst” Drawn To Life game; but truth be told, I'd rather call it “the least good”. The plot is just okay, but the platforming has many problems, and it doesn't really hold up as well in comparison to the other two games in both these fields.

Also, I think it lacks something major... But what... Oh wait, I know: It lacks a tear-jerking ending sequence accompanied of a song! How could they forget that?

Eh, it doesn't matter. I like to put this game as part of the Drawn To Life continuity, but you could just skip it and play the two DS installments of the series. You're not going to miss much.

Tune in this Friday for my review of The Next Chapter (DS)!

But wait, Nicolas – Didn't you say you didn't have that game?”

Indeed I did say that, but it's not technically a full review. I look at the plot of the game, which I'll try to fit all of it in one post (Maybe it'll take two parts, though), and then I will talk about the ending(s).

There were two endings? I didn't know that!”

Well, see you in four days and you'll understand!


This looks like an epic adventure!
...You have no idea how epic.