You might have noticed that this review looks slightly different to other reviews on VideoGamer.com. That's because we look at games clearly designed for younger gamers in a slightly different way to other games. We'll endeavour to tell you just what you need to know in a clear and concise way so you'll be confident it's the right purchase for whatever your situation.
What is it?
A rather original game called Drawn to Life hit the DS in 2007, allowing gamers to draw many of the objects and characters in the game. At its core it was a fairly traditional 2D platformer, but the drawing elements made it one of the most unique releases of the year. THQ's follow-up, Drawn to Life: SpongeBob SquarePants Edition ditches the story and characters of the first game, and instead focusses on the well known cartoon series. Again a 2D platformer with plenty of drawing, the story revolves around an evil drawing that comes to life and you play as one of Patrick's doodles that's come to life in order to stop the evil drawing.
There are two distinct parts to SpongeBob's latest video game. The running and jumping on platforms and enemies and collecting tokens is all pretty simple stuff, with the odd bit of touch screen scribbling required to get rid of some ink. Players of the original Drawn to Life will find this very familiar and it's not too tricky, even for younger gamers. There is a fair amount of text to read throughout the game, with the characters often telling you what's going on - under sevens may find the game a little too text heavy.
The game asks you to draw lots of items, from the main character you play as to the house you live in, and this is the other part of the game that younger gamers might struggle with. The interface here is fairly simple and the game provides decent outlines for you to draw within, but it's certainly more complex than the basic platforming.
Whereas the original Drawn to Life featured an entirely original story and characters, SpongeBob SquarePants Edition has been created with fans of the TV show in mind. It pays to enjoy the TV show and be familiar with the characters. The game's art style is also very similar to the show, which will please fans.
The look of the game will vary from person to person, with talented artists ending up with a better looking game than basic scribblers. A fairly sketchy style to the pre-done visuals helps your creations blend more seamlessly and you'll be drawing far more items than in the original Drawn to Life. The only real negative comes from the rather unimpressive audio - in particular the lack of voices for the main characters from the show.
Anything for adults?
Simple 2D platforming and doodling might not sound like perfect gaming material for adults, but Drawn to Life: SpongeBob SquarePants Edition is surprisingly good fun and certainly isn't a chore to play if you're asked to get past a tricky section. Just be warned that the game parades your terrible drawings for all to see.
Considering the majority of licensed titles for kids fail to offer even a glimmer of originality, Drawn to Life: SpongeBob SquarePants Edition comes highly recommended. Although it's based on an idea we've seen before, the use of SpongeBob gives it a much broader appeal and the gameplay here seems slightly more refined. If you've got budding artists or SpongeBob fans in the family, this is worth a look.