Drawn to Life: SpongeBob SquarePants Edition
From cave walls to touch screens, humans still want to leave their mark.
Drawn to Life: SpongeBob SquarePants Edition is a safe move for publisher THQ. By slapping the logo of Nickelodeon's popular cartoon characters on the box, the game is almost a shoe-in for good sales. The environments are clearly SpongeBob inspired and the story unfolds during an unremarkable animation at the beginning starring Patrick, the fat starfish and a gigantic pencil. Though you can interact with Patrick, Squidward and SpongeBob as they lounge outside their respective houses, further involvement is limited and you never control them.
While daydreaming one lazy day, Patrick finds a pencil and doodles in the sand. His mindless art becomes the evil Doodlebob, a very bad squiggle who runs off to thrash Bikini Bottom. He tears up the Krusty Krab and leaves black goo everywhere. You get to create your own hero and clean up the town, starting right after you draw your house and doodle a save point.
The game makes heavy use of the stylus, but you will find yourself needing the buttons too. This can get tricky when the pace picks up, but for most of the game, you will happily doodle along creating friends, helpful objects and even your own health icon. (Ours look like burgers.) If you like to draw, you'll love this game, but this isn't Adobe Illustrator, so your creations will have a primitive style that is fascinating once you see it animated during gameplay.
You're left with a small tool menu and a bordered area; whatever you draw within its boundaries is up to you. When you are satisfied, selecting OK takes you back to the game and you will see your creations populate the touch screen.
When completing story-related missions, you must use the color palettes the game supplies, but when scribbling in the Coloring Book or Draw SpongeBob modes, there are several palettes to choose from. You can unlock new hues and other goodies by completing the single-player missions in the main game. These varied and vibrant side-scrolling levels are fun to navigate, but may take some time as there are usually several instances where you must draw an aid object to help you through the level.
Items generally range from bubbles to more complicated doodles like Ferris wheel cars. However, there are times when you will draw your own power-ups. These power-ups are more novelty than anything. The karate-chop glove is useful, but we get a sense of lag when we use the bouncy boots which makes timing a jump almost impossible. Additionally, certain issues come up during goo clean-up that require simultaneous use of the stylus and buttons. It is hard to alternate between the two, and you might lose some health over it until the movement becomes more comfortable.
Although Drawn to Life: SpongeBob Squarepants Edition is a great game for fans of the little yellow sponge, we feel it could alienate older gamers who enjoyed the premier release of the Drawn to Life series. You'll love seeing your drawings move, but our recommendation is that you try it before forking over the dough.
What's Hot: Freedom of creativity, color palettes, large and colorful levels to explore.
What's Not: Good drawings take time, story is vague and forgettable, hard to complete some moves because of the simultaneous use of the stylus and buttons.