Watch me on Twitch!

Streaming whenever I can.
(Sorry, that's the reality of working at night. Subscribe to my channel to get notifications!)

September 12, 2014

Drawn To Life (Part 3)

Drawn To Life Month
Drawn To Life: Part 1 - Part 2

Hello, and welcome back for the finale! Yeah, last Monday, I stopped after I saw a vampire Raposa. Well, guess what? Not only is there really a vampire Raposa, but he feeds on tomato juice! Ha! No, wait, "Tovato" juice, actually.  Also, Count Choco (yeah, that's the vampire's name... No, I haven't ever eaten Count Chocula cereal... but I kinda see where the reference comes from) had a page for the Book of Life. It's a page for Kaorin berry bushes, which are dangerous. The Creator decides what they look like. Also, Samuel apparently knows how to use the berries, so the Creator's puppet goes to get him.

Those berries make you grow? That's berry hard to believe.
According to Samuel, if the Creator's avatar eats a Kaorin berry, its size will double and it will destroy everything in its path – perfect for the last world in the game, Rapo City! The Creator erases part of the darkness northeast of the village, revealing a new sector... with a door!

By the way, I should clarify something: How many levels are there in this game? Fifty? Don't be silly. Forty? Nope! Twenty! Still a little lower... Ten? More than that... In fact, there are fifteen actual levels. Four in each world, with the first three worlds having an additional "boss level", and the fourt one having a final level with a boss (Wilfre) at the end. Yeah, there are only four worlds in the game. I complained earlier about the length of some of these levels; Well, some are still long and tedious, but thankfully there isn't that many levels, so in a way, it's really not as bad as it seems. Fifteen seems like just the right balance. (Plus, with one important Raposa joining the cast each time.)

Maybe you're the one who should stop coming closer!
Located not too far from the Rapocity Gate, there's a colorless door. Wilfre stands in front of it and enters, muttering something about finishing his task. To anyone else, the door cannot be used if it isn't colored, so your task in the fourth world is to find the page for that door and put it back in the Book of Life. The Hero enters the normal door, and upon its arrival in the first level...

...notices it has grown to gigantic size! Wow, a perma-Mega Mushroom! Gotta send a few of those berries to Mario! On its way through the level, the avatar finds a young character shaped like a Raposa... but it doesn't have the trademark ears. ...Wait, what? Also, he's got a spiky haircut. Apparently he's called Mike.

Ah, come on.

Nope, try again.

Now you're not even trying. Urgh.

When the Creator's avatar returns, everyone is baffled to see that strange creature with hair only on the head and teeny-weeny ears. A HUMAN HAS ENTERED THE RAPO-WORLD. We don't get answers about that just yet, but the next installments do give an explanation. I'll get there in due time. Well, at least Mike thinks it's a dream.

What happened to your ears?
Yeah, it sorta becomes a running gag for the remainder of the game.

The Hero goes back to the Mayor and the Creator paints the colorless door. The Mayor then asks the Hero to gather everyone, especially Mari, who might be at the secret beach. The avatar goes there, only to see Jowee talking to the pirate captain, He offers a place in the pirate crew to Jowee. Mari arrives on the scene, luckily too late to have heard any of this. Poor her... Jowee, her best friend, thinks about leaving... When the Creator's puppet finds Mari and the Mayor it sees the young Raposa yelling at her father! Telling him that she isn't made to be a Mayor! That it's too much responsibility for her. That she's afraid. She runs away, and the Mayor soon regrets discussing that matter with her...

You see, there's an emotional weight here. In the sidelines of the main plot, there is a second story that unravels: The story of Mari, who is going through so many hardships at once. Her friend would prefer to go on an adventure than be with her. Her father the Mayor has chosen her as his rightful successor, and her formation isn't going well. No one listens to her, she's unsure of her capacities, she fears being unable to solve the problem... It's not going well. Set aside all of the main plot, with the Creator, Wilfre, the avatar... you get a believable story that could have taken place in just about any setting. One that you feel for. You want to know what's going on, because we've pretty much all been there at some point. Many have felt, at some moment, like the upcoming challenges were going to be too difficult and that we wouldn't be able to count on those we love.

Unagi is way too high-tech for this world.
Again, it feels like this game was made with young boys in
mind: What do they like? Spies? Let's put one in!
So... after Mari has run off, the Mayor tasks the Hero with entering the Rapocity door again and finding the page for a flame sword that will then be used in the final level, against Wilfre. The Hero enters the City Gate again and comes back with a page and Unagi, a... Raposa security guard? Bodyguard? Spy? Doesn't matter, he's got a cool suit and cool shades, so he's cool. Besides, there cannot be enough people around to protect the Mayor and the village. But there is a bit of a rivalry between Unagi and Officer Cricket...

We always need more security. Do you have any idea how
powerful Wilfre is? He was WINNING at the beginning!

Yes, you can even make it look like a Keyblade. What
part of "you can draw anything" don't you understand?
Oh well. Why should we care about that when we got the page for the FIRE SWORD? Now that this weapon of mass awesome has been created, the Mayor thinks the Hero is ready to fight Wilfre. Okay, technically, you're the one drawing the sword, so make it whatever the Hell you want. I just make it into a Fire Sword because it looks great. There's only one problem. In order to get Mari to become the next Mayor, she has to write her name inside the Book of Life as official next Mayor of the Raposa village. Sadly, that page is missing, so the Hero has to get it. Well, on the other hand, you get to try the FIRE SWORD before the final level!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, but before that, there's more plot: Cricket and Unagi are fighting, and Mari has to solve the problem... but she refuses, she's at the secret beach. She still needs some time to think about her tasks as Mayor. She still feels unable to solve all the quarrels. She does NOT follow the Hero when it goes to get her, so the Mayor has to solve the quarrel by himself.

You two have a simple task: Protect the friggin' Mayor!
You're not gonna achieve that if you keep fighting!

As the Hero approaches the City Gate, we are brought to the Forest Gate. The Mayor is walking towards it when he hears a sound. Wilfre approaches the Mayor! He tells the Mayor that if it weren't for the Hero, none of them would have done so well. Wilfre keeps speaking, saying how the Mayor ruined the village, and his daughter will ruin it even more, yaddayaddayaddaSHUT UP!

Shut the Hell up, Wilfre! You do not possess the authority to speak about the Mayor that way! What have YOU done for the village? Last time I checked, you covered it in eternal darkness! You are not a responsible, level-headed Raposa who can freely criticize the Mayor. You're an irresponsible, egotistical, despicable, rude jerkass. You do not deserve to criticize the heroes' work. You should have no say on the Mayor's work as you've been disconnected from the Raposas' reality for too long. And we'll feast when your defeat finally comes at the hands of the Creator's avatar.

The Mayor agrees with me! See?

Wilfre hurries to take the Book of Life from the Mayor... And then stabs the Mayor. Not a little stab. A fatal wound. He killed the Mayor! He killed the Mayor, and what's worse, he did it in an E-rated game!

No... No.... it's... impossible... It can't be... No!

The Mayor... is dead... We knew he was in danger, but things looked so good by now... we never could have seen it coming... Oh my God... We never saw it coming... We, never, saw, it, coming! He's not coming back, either; his death is treated very seriously, his death is final. And of course, the Creator's avatar is unable to tell the news to anyone until this level has been completed. Oof, this hurts. Having to complete a level with tears in your eyes... that won't be easy. A fire sword cannot cauterize the emotional wounds of the heart... or bring back the dead...

You arrived too late, doctor lady.
Of course you had to be in the most painfull long level...
And as luck would have it, the Hero comes back from the next level with a doctor and nurses. As you might have guessed, it's too late. That level was a freaking long maze, the Mayor could have died thrice in the time it took the Hero to reach the end! The new Rapo, Dr. Cure (no, that's seriously her name; BTW, doctor woman FTW!), walks to the Town Hall, but the Mayor isn't there. The Hero finds the Mayor's body and Jowee arrives. They find his dead body on the ground. Galileo, Cricket, Dr. Cure and Farmer Brown show up. Jowee goes to get Mari. She sees her father and tears up. Dr. Cure was unable to do anything. After most Raposa around the crime scene have left, Mari and the avatar stay around. Jowee joins them and mourns with his friend. It's good to know that she can count on him this time. Due to a video game law, the Mayor's body vanishes, not even letting Mari touch it or live her grief. (What an awful moment for a law of video game physics to happen, by the way...) Mari runs away, crying.

We share your pain, Mari. We all do.

The creations around the village start disappearing. The banya, the lighthouse, EVERYTHING that You created since the beginning of the game. Jowee tries to reassure Mari, telling her she can take the responsibilities. You know what to do: Go through the colored door, defeat Wilfre, and save the village. (And possibly the world!)

Sparring with a scorpion?
This last level is tricky, but remains straightforward, so only the boss is interesting. (Also, the final boss theme is freaking awesome. Wish I could get a version with the sound cleaned up; and maybe a better instrumentation. Whatever. It rocks.) First, Wilfre summons a giant scorpion! It must first be knocked out by attacking Wilfre, and then attacked with a ground pound. Once the giant scorpion has been defeated, Wilfre takes matters in his own hands. He uses the Creator's creations against the Hero, attacking by throwing tridents and stars. He uses STARS to attack the good guy! Also, he stays high in the air, so the Hero has to jump to hit Wilfre. Wouldn't be so bad, except the Creator's puppet can only attack once while jumping, and Wilfre has a lot of HP, so get ready to jump a lot. By the way, if you lose against Wilfre, you have to restart the whole fight and defeat the scorpion yet again. 

By the way, the tridents and stars he's using to attack?
It's the ones you designed to go through the levels.
He's using your creations from the Book of Life to attack you!

Wilfre is eventually defeated. The evil Raposa falls to the ground and returns to his original appearance before disintegrating. Alas, poor traitor, you had to vanish. The Hero returns to the village with the Book of Life, bringing everything back to normal! Except that the Book of Life can't bring back Raposa from the dead. What an ironic name. The avatar goes back to Mari, who doesn't feel ready yet to sign her name in the book as proof that she is the new Mayor... but she asks the Creator to sign. Yes, You sign in the game. Sadly for Mari, Jowee is about to leave...

The Hero finds them near the docks, where Jowee says goodbye to Mari and the avatar. Mari accepts that her friend is leaving. Though, had they become more than friends over time? It certainly feels like such. Mari then returns to the village, where she reminisces over the past days, remembering many important moments from the game. Oh, not just important moments. The ones that contained the most emotions. The ones she had with Jowee, from the beginning of the adventure up to Wilfre's defeat. The montage is very powerful, using a song to strengthen the emotions. You feel for these characters, more than ever.

(Watch the video here. Sorry for the audio issues, it's really the best one I could find. The last discussion between Mari and Jowee starts at 4:25 approximately, so start there and watch until the end. The music also gets a bit out of sync after a while. If you want to hear the song alone, here it is:)

I always tear up when I see the montage. The song itself, not so much, because I've listened to it dozens of times, but the montage that accompanies it... Oh, God... I tore up the first time I saw it. I still do. I had tears in my eyes when I saw that ending again. It works. It just does. You see this relationship grow between Mari and Jowee, and then you see all of the better moments... And if you still don't feel by the end of the song, there's a final moment just for you.

Jowee stayed, after all. Mari saw the boat leave, and thus she believed he was gone with the pirates. Yet, he walks towards her on the secret beach. He chose to stay... To stay for her. Wait, that's not enough. Let's add... yes! The Creator's avatar looking at them from a nearby cliff... no, wait, we need more... yes! The avatar is accompanied by the spirit of Mari's father, looking over them. It doesn't sound much when it's in written form, but try to imagine it. It's such a beautiful moment...

Snap out of it, Nicolas. Now that you've explained the plot and said all sorts of good things about the plot, it's time to talk about the good and bad points of the game.

That's funny, I never knew I created a world until I began
playing this DS game...
Do I really need to repeat how much I love the story? It always follows the same basic pattern, but that pattern is integrated to a plot that unravels between the levels. Also, it brings many interesting characters and many plot threads that we want to see resolved, though we might have to buy the sequels to see how these storylines continue. Also, you can tell this game treats its audience seriously. The game is emotionally heavy, deals with complicated issues, and the one character death that is part of the story is treated seriously. The game doesn't hide death from kids, treating it exactly the way most stories should. 

On to the next part: The playability. Personally, I am not much of an artist, so most of what I draw in this game is either basic or ugly. Basic as in, I just fill the drawing fields with colors, and when I have to draw actual stuff, it's unpolished and kind of cheap. However, the drawing tool works very well, so you can make some pretty cool pictures if you take the time. Sadly, if you feel in a hurry to beat the game, you will have to cut on the creating time.

The first thing you do in the game: Draw the world.

The ga,e starts as darkness covers everything, there is no
light, snow is everywhere, and there's no hope.
As for the overworld map of the Rapo village (which I had named Raposamora for the sake of giving it a name), it starts off as very small, and then grows pretty big by the end of the game. At the end, it can take you a minute to go from the Mayor's house to the doors leading to the next levels. Also, as you erase more and more clouds, you discover more and more features of the village, but also more and more trees. You can run between the trees as a shortcut, but even then it can be easy to get lost. You heard right: The place is so big that you can get lost. I thought it only happened in some RPGs and in the Grand Theft Auto games... However, I really enjoy that you can speak to all the Raposa in the village and get different dialogs depending on where you're at in the story. A lot of RPGs don't even bother with that.

On to the levels: The first ones are alright. The first world is simple, you don't have to search much to get the three Raposa and the four parts of the page from the Book of Life. Starting with the second world, it gets a little trickier. By the third one, it becomes a lot harder to find them. Yeah... The problem is that the levels are rather long, separated in a few “rooms”, with places that feel like mazes. And the canvas make these levels even longer, because you spend a few minutes drawing. Aside from that, while the created objects in the levels work fine for the most part, sometimes it gets a little complicated. If you don't take all the given space to draw the objects, you will find yourself having problems further in the level. As an example, if you make the clouds a little too small, you might find yourself having to re-draw them because you cannot jump far enough between the clouds. Also to note for the platformer aspect, you get new abilities for nearly each world (the snowball gun for the Snow Gate, the wings and the acorn gun for the Forest Gate, the scuba diving equipment and the starfish gun for the Island Gate, the Kaorin Berries, and then the fire sword, for the City Gate). Sadly, there's a little delay between the moment you press the button and the moment the character shoots, so you may be touched by enemies before you hurt them. This is especially bad in the underwater parts of the Island Gate, where the character's frantic swimming makes it difficult to stop in time to avoid underwater enemies. As for hitting them? It's kind of a pain too. Same for the fire sword, which looks awesome, but is quite impractical, as you need to be in close range of the enemy if you want to hit it, also making it able to hit you as a result. Plus, the sword swings in an odd way, so you need a lot of precision; yes, even though I praise its awesomeness, the sword is my least favorite weapon. Strange, huh? Also, you can look further left, right, up and down by pressing L, R, Up or Down; it prevents some bad surprises.

Mari and Jowee in front of the Creation Hall. Here, Mari is angry,
as represented bythat black tornado of lines in her bubble.
After the playability, the graphics. They're great! ...The ones that you didn't create yourself, of course. The entire village is extremely detailed, all the important Raposa have distinct features that make them recognizable and every zone of the village has a certain feel. Likewise, I love the idea to have the Raposa express themselves with both speech and symbols, as it gives you a better idea of what they feel. Same can be said for the levels, which could have been bland, cheap, unimaginative locations, but in many levels there are many details in the foreground AND in the background! The enemies are very detailed, and Heck, those are recognizable too! The Baki is a species of enemies that appears in nearly all of the levels – and in every world they have a different design! They wear scarfs in the ice levels, scuba and mask in the island levels, giants in the city levels, leaves in teh forest levels... you get the idea. Great, isn't it?

As for the music: Some of it is rather basic, but there are many musical pieces that are memorable. For obvious reasons, my favorite two are Shadow Showdown (Wilfre's boss theme) and The End. Though, for The End, that was kind of the point: It's the song that plays over the game's ending cutscene. Of course you will remember it above any other song! Luckily, you can buy all the songs in Isaac's shop, so you can listen to all of them.

This boss fight theme is so good that it was retooled and remakes an appearance as the boss theme in the sequel, The Next Chapter, on the DS. Kinda sad we can't get a version with better sound...

By the way, if you throw 10,000 Rapo-Coins in the wishing well, you access the Developers' Corner. You can speak to the game developers' avatars!

All in all, this is a great game. I strongly suggest you give it a try. Sure, it's got problems here and there, but the positive aspects greatly overshadow the negative ones. Now... *sigh* I have to admit, it's rare to see a game series with a perfect track record. No franchise has gone without at least a stinker or two. In a way, I'm lucky, the Drawn to Life series has had only three actual games (Four if you count the Spongebob edition, but it's a completely different game that has nothing to do with the actual series). With three games, the chances of having a bad game are slim. Well... Tune in next week for my review of the Wii installment of Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter.

Sure, this all looks fine and good...
But keep in mind, this is just a bos cover...