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Wednesday 29/03/2017: Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink

September 30, 2014

Slower updates

Hello everyone.

Since April, I've kept a very strict schedule when it came to posting reviews on Planned All Along. I posted every Friday, and I posted every Monday for reviews that were two or three posts long. I've been very consistent, in fact; and while I applaud myself for it (Me, keeping a schedule? It's like asking Bowser to slow down on kidnapping Peach!), this is not the reason for tis post.

The title may have already clued you in. If you've followed this blog since the start of 2013, you probably know I slowed my updates down while I was doing my internship at my university's news blog. I stopped posting on Mondays, kept all my updates to Fridays, and used the full weeks to write during my free time.

Making articles for my blog has become a lot more complicated. While looking for ways to ameliorate it, I found it much better to use footage from the games. Yes, I am using the footage from Youtube videos that aren't mine. But I always acknowledge it when it's the case. You might have noticed that I used footage from the Subspace Emissary mode while talking about it during my big review of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I also used footage from all three Drawn To Life games in the past month. Picking pictures out of a video is not an easy task, as I have to pause constantly and find the most interesting pictures. Or, well... at least, pictures that are linked to what I'm saying. Or maybe pictures I can join a joke to. I also used this for my review of the godawful movie Gamer - though, for that one, I owned the DVD. Yeah, I'm not too proud of that. But in my defense, I had never cared about it till I watched it for the review. Man, this sucked... Either way, point is that gathering pictures for my reviews has become a much longer and arduous process, at least for the reviews that I care more about. Picking pictures can take me more than a hour, and maybe even two or three, while the writing is still done rather quickly, and so is the editing; once I have the pictures and the text, the actual editing is done pretty fast.

Don't even get me started on the videos. The videos are long to make, even though they're really not that long actually... But I have a lot less free time for me these days.

As some of you may know, I've found a job. A real job. Yes, I,m taking customers' orders behind the cash register at McDonald's, but it's a job, and a job will always be better than no job. Especially if it's a job like we've got at McDonald's. There are easier tasks, there are harder tasks, but you get a paycheck every two weeks, so there's that. I have more money, but I now spend over thirty hours of my time there per week. Therefore, I have a lot less time to write. Cue the same speech about reviews being longer to make now I fed you earlier.

My personal life has been pretty hectic too. I won't get on the details, but a member of my family greatly worried me, and I didn't have the spirit to write much. Then there's the procrastination Then there's more and more stuff going on... Final word, less time to write and get some good material out. Therefore, I (finally) announce that I will slow down on my publishing schedule. Starting this week, I will only publish reviews on Friday. This will give me more time to write - the entire weekends, that's already something - and more time to get good pictures to use in the reviews. Heck, I might have more time to make videos now.

Final words: I'm sorry I have to resort to that again. But when you have less time to spend doing what you like, you decrease the amount of time you spend doing said thing. On a side-note, I can promise this, though: I will never forget to publish a review on a Friday. I usually have a few reviews written ahead of time, but as I said, too many things happened at once and I got caught in this tight schedule. I intend to use the next weeks, most likely all of October and maybe all of November, to get a lot of reviews written. I intend to write more than one review per week, maybe one and a half, so that I can get ahead and have some time to write stuff again despite my schedule.

I hope you don't mind this. It's not the most important anouncement ever, but still something I wanted to tell everyone. See you in the next weeks. I hope you get to enjoy Planned All Along despite that.

P.S. Yes, I waited for the end of Drawn To Life Month before making this announcement. I wanted Drawn To Life Month to end on September, so you can tell I painted myself in the corner with numerous ambitious reviews on the same month. Still, I want Planned All Along to keep the standard of quality I gave it. See you this Friday for Part 1 of a VGFlicks review.

September 29, 2014

Bonus Review: Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter (DS) - THE FINALE, Part 2

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

Hello, and welcome back to the finale of Drawn To Life Month! Last time, I covered the plot in the first two worlds of The Next Chapter (DS). First was Watersong, and then there was Lavasteam. Now I'm trying to finish talking about this game - about this franchise - today. Let's not waste any time, then!

The crew goes towards the Galactic Jungle. *sigh*... With all the troubles in Lavasteam they still haven't found Mari...

And each time, the pendant owned by Heather carves
the path on a map. Kinda complicated if y6ou ask me...

Cricket, Unagi and Zazasazh... Zsashzzahsszhszazaaa... Ash appear there and are taken away, one by one, by robots claiming they broke the law in several ways; Unagi was talking in the public area, Ash was running, and Cricket... ATE A DONUT! How unlawful!

Well, at least our Raposa-Cop stays true to the stereotype.
(P.S. I,m kinda glad Zsasha doesn't have a bigger role here.
I was getting tired of making the "can't pronounce his
name right" joke.)

Jowee enters his room and sees Mari, who is searching for something. She takes the Book of Life from him and... begins ripping pages off! Mike enters, and Mari runs out. Cornered by the other villagers, she uses one of Wilfre's portals to escape. Whaaaaaaaa-???? Jowee has no idea what's going on... And neither do I. Thankfully, parts of the book are still there. After which we hear a voice, maybe the Creator, asking the same questions that were at the beginning of the game. It's my turn to be wondering what the Hell is going on... Later, Jowee has a dream where he finds Heather, but she turns to stone.

Democracy of the republic of the people of- Can you please
repeat that? ...Ah, screw it. I'll keep calling this place the
Galactic Jungle. Less complicated.
Th Galactic Jungle is a place that combines natural and futuristic elements. Kind of like the forest from the first game, except it goes beyond gears and mechanisms, it's literally a science-fiction city with plants scattered around. Jowee, Sock and the avatar get there, but the place follows strict rules and the person who welcomes them in doesn't let them speak to the city's council. Unless they bring back something that was lost in the first level of the game, of course. At the Hero's return, we get a look at that “Council”: Six shadowy Raposa figures who keep adding new rules to this society. What's the next rule? Sneezing is now illegal. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-????

Ahhhh-choo! Sorry, I'm allergic to bullcrap.

Welcome to 1984, I guess?

There has to be another way.
...That line comes by pretty damn often in this game...
We get some explanation from Click, who is Jowee, Sock and the Hero's guide through the city. The peacekeepers are robots, the S.P.U.D.s. Click gets the stuff he needs to use the elevator leading to the Council, and in the meantime the Creator's puppet is sent on a small mission to rescue a S.P.U.D. from another level. While going back to the elevator, they see a citizen taken away because she sneezed. Dammit! It's taking too long to enter the elevator, so Jowee suggests the Creator makes a spaceship they can then use to reach the Council. A-okay...

Stuck in a spaceship with two Rapo... "You're stepping on
my ear!" "I got your tail in my eye!" "I got the Hero's
sword too close to my head!"
You draw the ship, the bullets and the bombs to use in the next level, which is a horizontal shoot'em up. Jowee, Sock and the Hero enter, though there's little place for them in it. And of course, it wasn't going to be this easy going up towards the Council! With the spaceship, the heroes have to destroy over twenty Baki security cannons. Once they reach the higher region of the city, the Hero has to go through three more levels to get generators that can then be used to power up the second elevator leading to the Council. Oh, great... Now I'm getting flashbacks from the Wii game with its pointless missions made just to go through more levels.

Well, space sure seems... white around here.
I guess the designers were lazy and just left a... blank space.
*rimshot*

Banished? What, he was running and sneezing while eating a
donut and screaming profanities?
After the generators have been found, Jowee, Sock and the Hero learn from a S.P.U.D. that Click has been banned from the city. They decide to break into the Council, but first they have to take down the main security system, a large spaceship, and they destroy it... with their own spaceship! They eventually defeat this opponent and go to meet the Council. They notice the bunch of S.P.U.D.s blocking the way are actually holograms. They enter... and find out that the Council was actually a bunch of dummies! The true creature guiding the Council is a large head inside a vertical tube.


Not a human head! A Raposa head! And then that one turns out to be fake as well.

Which horrible consequences? You'll strike us down with bad CGI?
Sharknado tried that already, and it just made us laugh.

Obviously, there's got to be someone behind all this!
I just expected Wilfre. Because only he is nasty enough...
And guess who was controlling everything? Wilfre? Nope. Actually, it was Click. The old Rapo explains that the Mayor of the city passed away without an heir, so there was no Mayor to govern. To keep the place in order, he created the Council, the holograms, the security systems, the other things that made the citizens' lives complicated due to all these nonsensical rules. He was also the one to make all these stupid rules. But guess who gave that idea to Click? If your answer is not Wilfre, clearly you haven't been paying attention. Haven't you understood by now that he's the cause of everything that is going wrong? Jowee, Sock and the Hero decide to expose Click's treachery to the people, but take his side as he didn't do any of this out of malice, and by the end, Click is selected as the new Mayor of the futuristic city. Just don't let him near any universal remote.

Yeah, and he screwd up. Everyone makes mistakes. Look, I made one
when writing the word "screwed"!

Time to head out to the next island! Sadly, the pendant isn't working this time, so the heroes have no idea where to go next. Sock asks to see the pendant, and while Jowee tries to talk with Piratebeard to think up a plan, Sock runs away. When the villagers find him, the young sock-hat-wearing Rapo throws the pendant overboard. Sock takes his disguise off, revealing... Wilfre. Damn! Now certain of his own victory, Wilfre escapes through a portal.

Thanks to this, at least now the Raposa know Wilfre can transform, so Jowee theorizes Wilfre must be the “Mari” who ripped the pages out of the Book of Life. All the villagers decide on going home and giving up... and once everyone has left to their rooms on the Turtle Town Ship, Crazy Barks finds Wilfre's big sock, the one he used as a hat under his “Sock” alias.

They must be looking at one Hell of a trainwreck.

In a dream brought by the Creator, Jowee sees Mari and Heather looking at the picture you've drawn at the beginning. Only they can see it. The Creator tells Jowee about the sock. After his dream, Jowee goes outside and sees Crazy Barks using the sock as a sail leading towards Wilfre's castle!

Currently, Wilfre realizes he left his sock hat behind and says, "This blows."

Bah-ta-ta-bah-ta-ba-WHAT?
This final world seems to be made of bits and pieces of the last three worlds, plus the large castle owned by Wilfre. It's a mashup! Upon their arrival, they see the real Mari, but Jowee refuses to believe it and turns around... until Wilfre shows up. He says Mari went to him willingly. Whaaaaaaaa-??? Mari tells Wilfre she needs to explain everything to him. But Jowee refuses to hear anything, so Wilfre kidnaps him... and then leaves with Mari.

God this is depressing. And it's not even over yet.


"Avatar... Avataaaaarrrr... You must travel now to the
Dagobah system- Wait, that's not what I wanted to say."
The old Mayor's spirit comes and tells the avatar what to do. He must enter one level in each of these bits from the other villages. And in each level, he must build a pedestal and find an orb. These objects will weaken the barrier put around Wilfre's castle, which will let the Hero enter to "save everyone".

He makes the altar and orb for Watersong, then does the same for the section based on Lavasteam, and finally goes through more levels based on the Galactic Jungle. The three orbs instalkled unlock the section of Wilfre's castle. They see Mari and Jowee, and it seems Jowee has, too, joined Wilfre. He even says that Mike is a lot more involved in this whole thing than he thinks. Mike? The human within the Raposa world? Involved in anything? Even though it's obvious he shouldn't be there and thus he probably has plot relevance? Him, more involved? Hah! Yeah, sure. And I'm the Bonhomme Carnaval!

You have no idea how hot it is inside that suit.

Bigger than your world? Bigger than anything you've ever
seen? A... Raposa version of Galactus???
But, surprise! Jowee actually rallies to the other Raposa again! Even though he knows the deep disturbing truth that made Mari join Wilfre, he still rallies with the Raposa. He asks Mari to do the right thing, so Mari looks at the past. She thinks about her father, the wise old Mayor. Finally, Mari decides to go back with the Raposa to stop Wilfre, once and for all! Great! Still, we have a feeling Wilfre, and now Mari and Jowee, know something we should know, and for some damn reason, we still don't. We will... by the end. Meanwhile, Wilfre knew the Creator would still send a Hero, and thus has prepared for any avatar who would come to fight him.


Except this one, maybe.

Time to smash down Wilfre's castle! The Hero assembles a team by picking among his friends the Raposa, and- What? It doesn't happen that way? Aw, crud. By this point I was expecting the entire cast to follow the Hero to collectively kick Wilfre's ass. That would have been pretty awesome if you ask me.

First the Hero finds a key in the first level of Wilfre's castle, then enters the second level and comes back with more color. Wilfre appears and says that all of the Raposas' lives are at stake here. If they restore all the color to the world of the Raposa, they will all die. Yeah, sure, Wilfre. Like we'd trust you. But then Mari and Jowee back up Wilfre's argument. If all of the color comes back, everyone will die. They say that they will carry through with this color plan as it's the right thing to do, basically dooming everyone willingly because of something we still don't know about. Things are suddenly taking a grim turn... Okay, it has been pretty damn dark through this entire freaking game, but now we're getting in the meat of it. Wilfre is trying to keep the Raposa world alive... by preventing the heroes from getting all the color. Okay... But does that excuse in any way the things he did before in the game? NO! Heck, the sole reason he caused so much chaos in the other villages is because he was trying to prove a cheap point: The Raposa are all too eager to follow their leaders (the Mayors), because said leaders follow the Creator, who “doesn't care for them”. Then again, this is Wilfre speaking, how much of this can be trusted?

Um... Good question. Can you answer to this, smartass?

The evil darkness creature using color to attack.
Really didn't see that one coming.
The Hero reaches Wilfre and the final battle begins. Wilfre uses color rays to attack... and kills the Hero! Holy crap! Wilfre makes a monologue about the Raposa having to live without the Creator, for the Raposa should be the ones to create around their own world. Meanwhile, the villagers outside of Wilfre's castle ask for help from the Creator once again, as its avatar alone will not be able to defeat Wilfre. But this time, all the villagers present pray for help. And all the Raposa from the other villages do the same. Oh, Mother, I have a feeling I've heard of prayer saving everyone in an adventure before, I just can't quite put my finger on it... The prayer ultimately revives the Hero, who battles Wilfre, for real this time. The evil Raposa reveals his ultimate creation, a throne flying over a cloud. It uses lightning to attack and can turn into a tornado. Wow?

It looks pretty damn cool. A chair mighty enough for Zeus
himself! Or maybe Thor!

Heather! Phew, talk about a last-minute rescue.
The battle is difficult – but from what I see, it actually looks easier than the one at the end of the first Drawn To Life game, as this time there's only one phase and you don't have to kill a giant scorpion before battling Wilfre. When defeated, Wilfre sheds his darkness and turns into Sock, then Salem, and finally into his old Raposa self, before vanishing once and for all, revealing Heather. And by the way, Heather's face is normal now; no dark half! That's amazing!

The Hero returns to the villagers outside of Wilfre's castle, and Heather is so happy to see Jowee again. Jowee, Mari, Heather, the Hero, Mike, Piratebeard, Isaac, Crazy Barks, and all the others I might have forgotten return to their original village, which has retrieved all of its color. Sadly, this story comes to an end. In order to “do what's right”... The Creator taps the Eternal Fire a final time... Before it all ends, Mari explains what she saw. She saw Mike... Mike the human. But before she can say anything else, all the Raposa in the village disappear, and so does the Hero.

Everyone's disappearing! Isaac, no! Where will I buy
all of my useless decals for the Hero??

Mike finds himself in a white void, where we hear the ominous question again. “What do you remember about that day?” Heather appears and repeats the answers you've given at the start. She then vanishes, and the white void turns to black. Heather's incomprehensible sentences are now made perfectly clear: “God, just bring back my little brother to me.”


HUUUUUUUUH?



This pixel art is... impressive. Beautiful. Extremely detailed
and realistic. Marvelous.
Then the entire backstory is revealed. Mike and Heather were siblings in the real world. They were coming back from an amusement park. Their parents were driving through the forest. Suddenly, a car coming in the opposite direction. A crash. A tree. Heather holds Mike close. The car, slipped over, on the side of the road. The parents are found dead. Later, Heather seen with bandages covering the left side of her face. Mike, in bed, in a comatose state, with Heather looking over him. Mike finally opens the eyes. Heather hugs him. On the bedside table, two dolls, who look a lot like Mari and Jowee, possibly won at the amusement park.


If you don't feel anything with this ending, then you've got no heart. And I hate you. Then again, I can understand if you do not cry to my short description of the events. It's too quick, and you cannot feel the actual weight of the scenes. Wait till you've played through the series, after which this ending makes perfect sense. And you'll feel all of the emotional weight of this ending. It hits. It hurts. It works. Call me emotional. But when I learned about the ending, and heard this song... Even today, I can't listen to this video without feeling deeply sad. It's a very bittersweet ending: All the characters you've learn to like had to vanish so that a real boy could get out of a coma and live again.

Also, before you ask: Yes, you can keep playing after the game has been completed. But Mike is asleep, and talking to him erases the save file. The ending basically states that the Raposa world was a part of Mike's subconscious, a cute world he created for himself, with characters referring to all the things he liked: Pirates, vampires, Indiana Jones, and so on and so forth... Now all these weird characters make perfect sense. The feeling that “this game was made with young boys in mind” makes perfect sense. It IS a young boy's mind, and we didn't know at first.

As a side-note, I was rather annoyed when I heard that the ending had been changed for the compilation re-release of the two Drawn To Life DS games. Instead of a car crash, Mike just falls off from a tree and hits his head. He's still in a coma, but this new version makes less sense in my opinion: What about Heather, the Raposa with the half-dark face? In the first story, there was a reason: The real Heather's face was covered in bandages. With the new ending, there's no such reason as to why Raposa-Heather has this condition. I'm kind of angry that 5th Cell changed it, but they probably did after receiving a few complaints that the original ending was "too dark". I'm sorry, but: the harsh reality? Too dark? Sigh. Moral guardians will get offended at anything these days.

And besides, it doesn't end in a completely horrible way. It's
very sad, as they are orphans now, but at least they have each
other. Brother and sister, still a family. Heck, Mike gets out of
his coma! Life will be hard for them, but they will always be
able to count on each other.

Now that I've discussed the ending, let's see how The Next Chapter's story is, as an overall plot. Well, it's great. Flawed, but great. The story keeps you on your toes as it seems Wilfre always remains close to victory. By the way, some people theorize that Wilfre represents death, and the reason he was almost winning at the beginning of the first game is because Mike was about to die, but then the darkness was repelled and Mike's state went from “critical” to just “in a coma, but out of danger”. Sadly, his subconscious Raposa world is what keeps him in that state, and Wilfre's plans at first in the second game is to remove all the color of the world, which makes it impossible for Mike to awake. Wilfre is even shown as a well-intentioned extremist who wants the Raposa world to keep on living, even if that means a boy has to spend his entire life in a coma. His plans in the second game further bring him to corrupt or cause troubles to the Mayors of the other towns, but this is not made perfectly clear. It's barely discussed near the end of the game, and that's the flaw. Through the whole game, you help three villages against Wilfre, but when he explains himself, it's only a mention, and an unclear one at that. Plus, if he wants the Raposa world to keep on existing, why does he cause all this trouble?

Aside from that, The Next Chapter (DS) contains plot twist after plot twist. Mari is gone! No wait, she's back... she rips apart the Book of Life! It's Wilfre in disguise! No, wait, it's really Mari??? She has joined Wilfre? But she betrays him before the end and goes back to help her village? Then there's also Salem and Sock – instead of using only one fake identity, Wilfre used two. One of them was traveling around with the heroes, and Wilfre played that role so well that nobody suspected a darn thing! One of the very subtle hints is that Salem and Sock are never seen on-screen both at the same time. Likewise, in the second half of the game, some comments are made about Mike, implying that he's more important than he appears. Sadly, him showing up late in the first game and contributing very little to the second has not helped much for the people who claim that this ending is a cheap cop-out relying on a character we've barely seen.

Also, the big reveal is hinted at, but kept hidden through the whole game. I pointed out most of the hints through the seven posts made for Drawn To Life Month. Some were very well-hidden. I think 5th Cell had planned this ending from the very beginning and gave just enough hints that it would make sense by the end, but not too many as to avoid spoiling it early. As a result, it's a justified ending, but it could have been something else too.

I doubt I need to repeat that the art and the music are both incredible. Even Wilfre's revised theme is good... though it's just a different instrumentation.

*between sobs* I knew it! Raposa dolls are adorable!
I want one to hug while I weep because of this story!

To me, Drawn To Life remains an incredible series, and I loved playing the first DS game. I loved watching the Let's Play of the second DS game. I kind of appreciated the Wii game, though its flaws greatly diminished my enjoyment. That's all I can say. Drawn To Life Month is over now. It's still, in my opinion, a great video game series, and it deserves all the recognition it got. I hope you enjoyed this month, and if you want, I can make more themed months in the future. A Sonic Month, a Mario Month, a Raving Rabbids Month, an Ace Attorney Month...

On this, I tell you all Rapo-Goodbye! Tune in this Friday, possibly, for Part 1 of my second VGFlicks review! (Why "possibly"? I'll explain tomorrow.)

September 26, 2014

Bonus Review: Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter (DS) – THE FINALE, Part 1

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

Hello, and welcome again! Time to close Drawn To Life Month with the final game in the series!

But wait, wasn't there a Spondebob Edit-”

The final game in the series!

What about that special edition with Spong-”

THE. FINAL GAME. IN. THE. SERIES. I SAID.

So, as the preceding review of the Wii version of Drawn To Life: The Next Chapter has proven, the original Drawn To Life game is a tough act to follow. Great on almost every aspect, from the story to the platforming. As such, 5h Cell was better not making any mistakes in the sequel, which had to be even better. This was going to be the last game, it had to end in a memorable way. But before the ending, we need a full story! Since I don't actually own the game, I decided to just look at the plot. I can't really judge the game as well as I could judge the other two, but I wanted to close Drawn To Life Month with the series' finale.

And since I'm covering the entire plot – in less detail than usual, but still from beginning to end – I don't think I need to say that there are major spoilers in this review.

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.