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Video Game / Drawn to Life

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Drawn to Life is a video game series originally developed by 5th Cell and published by THQ. In this series you play as the Creator and must use The Power of Creation to help the "Raposa," the Fox Folk who inhabit the world.

In the first game, 2007's Drawn to Life, the Raposa village has been under attack by Wilfre, who covers the village in shadow after the Creator seemingly abandons them. With most of the villagers having left, Mari then asks the Creator for help, and the player draws a hero to save the village. The hero must travel across the world, through the four gates in the village, defeating the shadow, returning the lost Raposa to the village, and collecting the missing pages of the Book of Life to restore the village to its former glory. The main gimmick of the series is that you get to draw a ton of stuff, including a whale-copter.

In 2008, a version of the game using the characters of SpongeBob SquarePants called Drawn to Life: SpongeBob SquarePants Edition was released, developed by Japanese studio Altron.

Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter followed in 2009, having two versions that have different plots. The version for the Wii, developed by Planet Moon Studios, takes place directly after Drawn to Life, but before Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter on the DS. The DS version, developed again by 5th Cell, features a much darker storyline, improved drawing functions, better platforming, no arbitrary outlines where you can only color things in... In addition, it's much harder and faster-paced, with a plot concerning color getting drained from the world. There is also a 2010 Compilation Re-release of the two DS games called Drawn to Life Collection, with an alternate ending to the second game (though this ending is shown to be non-canon by the third game).

5th Cell went on to make Scribblenauts, which does to words what Drawn to Life did for images. The rights to the franchise were purchased in 2013 by 505 Games for $300K USD from the THQ auction, and an iOS port of the original game, developed by WayForward Technologies, was released a year later.

A third game, Drawn to Life: Two Realms, was developed by Digital Continue and released on December 7, 2020. It takes place five years after the events of the last game, and sees the players hero travel between the human realm and that of the Raposa.

Definitely not to be confused with Drawn Together. Not in the slightest.

The Drawn to Life series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abnormal Ammo: In the first game, the hero uses guns that fire acorns, snowballs, and starfish to attack foes. This can also be done with the Shooter in the second game if you wish.
  • Adventures in Comaland: The ending of The Next Chapter, in a rather shocking manner, turns out to be Mike's car-crash coma dream. However, it is established in the follow up game, Drawn to Life: Two Realms, that while Mike's time in the world of the Raposa, and the way it effected their reality (such as creating a replica of his sister Heather) were the result of his coma, the world itself and the events of the last two games are still very much real.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: The Next Chapter's last world has themes and pieces of each of the previous ones.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The ending of Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter was incredibly ambiguous, with fans debating exactly what had happened right up until the release of Two Realms. While Mike’s Experiences of the Raposa's world was revealed to be the result of a coma from a car crash that killed his parents and injured his sister, it was unclear whether the world of the Raposa would (or even could) continue to exist once Mike was woken up. With ample evidence to support both the theory that the world of the Raposa only existed in Mike's head and would therefore cease to exist once he woke up; and the theory that the world of the Raposa was its own thing and that Mike's conscious had somehow become connected to it when he fell into the coma, and that while his removal was risky the Raposa were still there. The plot and release of Two Realms establishes the second theory as the correct one.
  • Anti-Escapism Aesop: For as much as the main draw of the games is "your creativity can make anything real," the second game ultimately veers brutally into this territory. The entire world is the dream of a comatose kid in a car accident. How do you win? By convincing the kid to wake up and erase everything. The third game retcons the catastrophic implications of the second, but the themes of anti-escapism remain, particularly in the theme of the second game's ending.
    My real dreams and real love
    You need the things that you can touch
    This make-believe is not enough
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Can't draw too well or hit an art block? The game has several preset templates for you to use when creating your hero. The Next Chapter extends it to nearly every drawing segment in the game so you don't have to be confined to the canvas for too long.
  • Art Initiates Life: The whole gimmick is that whatever you, the Creator, draw for the game becomes real. Ties in with The Powerof Creation.
  • Art Shift: The end credits of the second game's DS version feature realistic humans.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever:
  • Background Boss: The Giant Robosa, at first, only appears in the distance. It moves in closer to attack.
  • Big Bad:
    • Wilfre, who destroyed the book of life and brought the shadows to the world in the first game, and started draining the world's color in the second game's DS version.
    • Subverted in the Wii version of Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter where the characters believe the villain they are fighting to be Wilfre, only to eventually discover that it's actually Circi who's been behind everything
    • Additionally, in Two Realms Wilfre secretly works with Mari and the Hero to defeat the new villain Aldark. Oddly the name above Wilfre's speech box remains redacted even after Mari admits that it's him.
    • DoodleBob also counts as this in the SpongeBob SquarePants Edition.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The ending to the first game. While yes, you defeated Wilfre and vanquished most of the darkness, some of it still remains on the map's borders, Wilfre killed the Mayor, and Jowee left Mari to go on an adventure of his own with Pirate Beard. However, Jowee returns to Mari at the end of the credits.
    • Due to the ambiguity of The Next Chapter's ending it can seem as though the entire Raposa world is destroyed after being revealed to be no more than the dream of a comatose Mike, a child in the human world, who was knocked deeply unconscious after a car accident killed his parents. At the end, though, Mike does wake up and reunite with his sister Heather, providing a glimmer of relief in the otherwise bleak scenario.
    • This is rectified somewhat in Two Realms, which (by its existence alone) shows that while Mike was connected to the world of the Raposa while he was in his coma, the world continues to exist without him in it. There is still some bitterness however, as the car accident that killed his parents has left its mark on both him and his Heather, and the place where they live. What's more, due to the fact that the Heather Raposa's world was just a copy, she can neither remember them, see the Hero's true form, or travel to the Raposa's world. This means that the Raposa's, including the ones who raised her while she was with them, will never see her again.
  • Book Ends: At the beginning of The Next Chapter for DS, the player must answer questions and draw a picture of a Noodle Incident, and shows a request to the Creator in gibberish. At the end of the game, after the world fades away, it shows Heather and Mike, while Heather is shown answering the questions asked at the beginning of the game. The request to the Creator turns out to be a prayer to God for Mike to get better.
  • Break the Cutie: Mari and Jowee go through this in The Next Chapter. Mari learns the truth behind the world and attempts to undo everything she and Jowee did to prevent its destruction. Jowee, meanwhile, has to pick up the pieces trying to restore the world without her, believing she's a traitor until he was also shown the truth.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The revised ending for The Next Chapter and the Wii game are noncanon to Two Realms.
  • Can't Move While Being Watched:
    • One enemy in the snow world attacks by throwing snowballs. When the player is facing them, they hide in a snow mound, only to attack again when you're not facing them.
    • The snow world also contains a snowman monster that spawns mini snowmen to attack the player, but only when the player isn't facing them.
    • "Watersong" in The Next Chapter on DS features a level that has living statue enemies, which rush toward the player once the player passes them.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Mike in the first game was a random Joke Character who was mainly around to have the Raposa be silly with him. In the sequels, he is a boy in a coma whose conscious has become connected to the world of the Raposa. After waking up at the end of the second game's DS version, he has to deal with the grief of losing his parents and fight against Aldark, who wants to prey on his feelings.
  • Cheat Code:
    • Press pause, and hold L and R and press A, X, B, B, Y in the first game to become invincible for the duration of one level/boss.
    • Alternatively, hold L, press B, press pause, press down, then press A, X, B, B, Y.
  • Coloring in the World: In the sequel, the world's color is getting drained by Wilfre, and the Creator sets the hero out to stop him and bring the color back.
  • Controllable Helplessness: In a unique fashion too; The Mayor of the first game is stuck down by Wilfre in the woods and lies on the ground injured. If you know where to find the Mayor, all you are able to do is listen to his Visible Silence and leave him to lie there until he is found by the other Raposa later on.
  • Cowardly Boss: The parasitic shadow infesting the second boss - Deadwood - constantly runs about his body trying to get away from you.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The games story carries a pretty strong Christian set of themed, what with the Creator creating a savior at the behest of a character named Mari to help save them from the shapeshifting Wilfre and his corrupting shadows. The DS version of the second game ups the ante by having there be a Dream Apocalypse the villain is trying to stop, Mari losing faith in the creator and siding with Wilfre, and having The Reveal that the series events are due to a girls prayer.
  • Cumulonemesis: On the first stage of the final world in The Next Chapter, there are sentient storm clouds that shoot harmful lightning projectiles downwards from their body. Subverted in that these clouds can be used as helpful platforms that can destroy Mooks from below.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: In both The Next Chapter and Two Realms, dying just lets you retry the level from the start with no penalty.
  • Demonic Possession: Heather, who is host to Wilfre's shadow in The Next Chapter DS.
  • Developer's Room: Unlockable extra in the first game. You unlock it using the wishing well. Once you unlock it, the wishing well will always take you there.
  • Diegetic Character Creation: The Creator (you) uses their powers to draw in aspects of the world. One of these aspects is the Hero, a mannequin whose basic framework can be drawn over with whatever designs the player can think of.
  • The Dissenter Is Always Right: At the beginning of the first game, the Darkness has pretty much overtaken the Raposa village thanks to the Creator's disappearance. The only character who still has any faith in the Creator at that point is Mari, who's brushed off as naive by everyone else, including her father. Just a few minutes into the plot, she's proven right when the Creator comes back and sends a hero to help save the village.
  • Divine Assistance: The Creator is essentially God, using their creative powers to save the Raposa in their time of need. Occasionally, they even step in directly to fix a problem.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: SpongeBob SquarePants Edition; sort of a subversion, as that title was built from the ground up. In other words, a Mission-Pack Sequel with a license slapped on it. To be fair, it's almost completely different as the levels are challenging and there are more customization options than in the first game and its sequels. However, the hero is stuck with the lousy name DoodlePants.
  • Dream Apocalypse: The Next Chapter could have been considered to be this due to the ambiguous nature of its end. However Two Realms shows that the Raposa and their world continue to exist without Mike.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: In The Next Chapter (DS), Crazy Barks acts like this around Sock, the new Raposa, when he gets aboard the ship. But no one seems to pick up on this.
  • Eye Scream: The Giant Robosa gets its eyes shot at and destroyed by the Hero.
  • The Faceless: Downplayed with Samuel, who always keeps his hood up.
  • The Flame of Life: The Eternal Flame that sits near the town hall was symbolically snuffed when Wilfre's darkness began to swallow the town and drive everyone out, effectively killing it. When the player starts the game, the first thing they bring back is the Flame, which is then used to expel the rest of the darkness from the town- effectively bringing it back to life.
  • Floating Platforms: Justified, in that the majority of these platforms are clouds drawn by the creator.
  • Frustrated Overhead Scribble: The Raposa NPCs you interact with often express emotions through symbols in speech balloons, including a black scribble when angry or frustrated.
  • Giant Mook: In the first game, you'll encounter giant, house-sized Baki in the first and second levels of the final world. Thankfully, you're also big enough to Goomba Stomp them like they're ordinary Baki.
  • A God Is You: The player plays as the Creator, the god of the Raposa.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: In the DS version of The Next Chapter. Mari doesn't quite go mad, but does join Wilfre.
  • Goomba Stomp: Enemies can be killed by jumping on them.
  • Hammerspace: In the sequel, you can carry four weapons and three forms with you, and you change between them on the go.
  • Heroic Mime: It becomes a plot point when The Mayor is attacked and left for dead by Wilfre. while the player character can go see him, they can't actually tell anyone that his life is in danger, leading to his death and Mari's Heroic BSoD.
  • Interactive Start Up: The opening screen of the first game allows you to doodle on the image of Jowee that appears, or erase it and replace it with something else entirely.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • This little exchange in the first game:
      Mari: Hey Jowee... How do you think the Creator sees us?
      Jowee: Erm... What if we lived in a white box with two windows... and the box had buttons... and a magic wand! And the Creator used that to examine our lives... And control what we do! What do you think?
      Mari: That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard...
      Jowee: Yeah, I guess so...
    • Also, when you close your DS system while playing and enter sleep mode, the Rapos will cry "AWWW!!", and when you open it again they'll cry "YAY!! RAPO!!" Similarly, using a cheat makes the Rapos cry.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Before you even draw your hero, the second game spoils that Wilfre killed the mayor in the first game. The third game, Two Realms, is even worse about this trope, since the entire plot revolves around Mike getting over his trauma about the car crash that started his coma dream and thus the series, which was supposed to be the twist ending of the second game.
  • Leaning Tower of Mooks: Occasionally, the player will encounter two or four Bakis stacked on top of each other. If you attack them, they'll separate and need to be attacked again to defeat them.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • The new ending The Next Chapter received in the Compilation Re-release (and supposedly a few later produced stand-alone cartridges) is significantly happier, starting with the art style going from realistic to more in-line to that of the rest of the game. Instead of a car accident, the injury that causes Mike to pass out and dream up the Raposa's world is a bump on the head, from falling out of a tree while on a camping trip. The kids are no longer orphans and Heather remains unharmed.
    • Two Realms is this as a whole to The Next Chapter which has a more simplistic, grounded story more along the lines of the first game. Supporting the lighter of the two main interpretations of The Next Chapter's original ending, over the other "Everybody Dies" Ending interpretation. The darker aspects of the second game's ending are still treated with the levity they deserve—in particular, the game ignores none of the fallout that comes from the traumatic death of Mike's parents in a car accident, including Mike's inevitable depression and the community breaking apart seeking a guilty party for the accident—but the game ends up with a much more definitely happy ending.
  • Meaningful Name:
  • Mood Whiplash: Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter's Galactic Jungle, a Cyberpunk place where there are millions of harsh laws all Played for Laughs to a degree, takes a turn for the worse when you realize Click was behind the whole "government," and it only gets worse the further you play into the game.
  • Motor Mouth: Crazy Barks, to an extent. He speaks fast enough for all of his words to blend together, however the player and Heather can understand him just fine.
  • Murderous Mannequin: The hero is a wooden mannequin brought to life (if not inhabited) by the Creator to save the world. While the hero is the same entity in every game, they do change mannequin bodies in-between. This helps explain the new abilities in the second game.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The hero will more often than not look vastly different from the Raposa and the humans of Mike's world, even when you use a template.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: In the first game, you can refuse Mari's prayers and cause the game to end right then and there, at the very beginning.
  • No Such Thing as Dehydration: It's explicitly mentioned that the villagers were eating much less without the banya crop/Chef Cookie around, but the lack of water is only mentioned when the village needs rain. However, it only needs rain to get a break from the sun and water the banya, rather than to have something to drink. However, since the village has a well, it's perfectly possible the Raposa were simply using that.
  • Obviously Evil: Wilfre, who is literally covered in shadow and spoke about wanting to make better creations than the Creator. Also Aldark, a literal manifestation of darkness.
  • 1-Up: Shaped like the head you drew for your hero, no less; they also respawn, so levels can be re-played to farm lives.
  • Optional Boss: Squid Doodle is this in SpongeBob SquarePants Edition, being fought at the end of a world that can only be accessed after beating the main story.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The Democracy of the Republic of the People of the United Space Fortress, or DOT ROT POT USF for short.
  • Portal Endpoint Resemblance: The four world gates in the first game bring characters to different locations in those worlds. Fittingly, the gates themselves are themed- The Snow Gate is covered in snow and leads to wintery levels, the Forest Gate is covered in vines and leads to forest levels, the Beach Gate has a palm tree and shells, and leads to tropical levels, and the City Gate is covered in ivy, like the kind that cling to city walls. The final gate is the only one that breaks this mold, being one that the player has to color in and design themselves.
  • Prefers the Illusion: In the ending to the DS version of the second game, the villain, Wilfre, had discovered that the whole world might be All Just a Dream created by a boy in a coma. Rather than allowing the Mike to wake up, thus potentially ending the world as they knew it, he conspired to keep him in his coma so as to continue their existence. He also briefly convinced Mari to help him, but she and the rest of the Raposa, later decided it was worth the risk of potential non existence in order to allow Mike to wake up and free the world from darkness.
  • Rash Promise: In The Next Chapter DS, Watersong's main conflict stems from the fact that Mayor Rose foolishly promised to give her voice to Salem, against her son's wishes. She made the deal to the promise conch, which cannot be unbroken without the conch's magic, so when she lost the bet, her voice was gone as a result of her impulsiveness and pride... which isn't great for a village that literally requires music to exist.
  • Refusal of the Call: In the first game, you can refuse Mari's prayers and cause the game to end at the very beginning.
  • Scenery Gorn: In the 4th half of Wilfre's Wasteland, you can see color leaking from the walls.
  • Scenery Porn: Some of the backgrounds in The Next Chapter are quite nice.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: Skraby Zarc, otherwise known as Crazy Barks. A brief Chekhov's Gun in the second DS game.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There's a treasure hunter Raposa named Indee, complete with his treasure-seeking dad and curmudgeonly son.
    • In the last stage of the first world in the Wii version, there's a section where you must climb up sloped platforms while dodging large, rolling obstacles to reach the level's boss - a giant ape - at the top. Sound familiar?
  • Sleepy Enemy: Snowman enemies found in the Banya Fields are always asleep before the player approaches them, at which point they awake and attack, unless one walks by them carefully instead of running. As running is the default speed, this requires tapping the D-pad instead of holding it down.
  • Smurfing: The Raposa frequently say "rapo" in their sentences. This is taken even further by young Raposa, who play a "rapo" voice clip before saying any dialogue.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The Compilation Re-release of the two DS games changes the ending of The Next Chapter from the car crash to Mike falling out of a tree, meaning his parents are still alive in that version of the game.
  • Steampunk: Lavasteam. Smokey, the clothes, the robotic Robosa and even the Giant Robosa as the boss.
  • Sudden Soundtrack Stop: Before the player sets off on their penultimate level, a cutscene shows the mayor being attacked and killed by Wilfre. After this moment, the background music is temporarily replaced with empty sounds of wind, and the player has no choice but to continue with the game. After the level is beaten, the music remains gone until the player goes to find the mayor's body, and it comes back afterward for the climax.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Wilfre causes this, having tampered with the Book of Life, and bringing the village to ruin. And in the second game, he does it again by draining all the color from the world.
  • Technicolor Fire: Justified, since you're God, but the Eternal Flame can be any color of the rainbow.
  • Thank the Maker: Literally, with an Addressing the Player twist. The Raposa revere the creator as their god, having created their world from nothing.
  • This Cannot Be!: Wilfre says this verbatim when he's defeated in the first game.
  • Title Drop: "The End," the ending theme of the first game, includes the lyric "Not quite certain though - Why I'm feeling so drawn - To a life with you..."
  • Toggling Setpiece Puzzle: One of the puzzles in the Gearworks is a switch puzzle where flipping the switch makes one colored platform move and turns the others off. You have to backtrack to and flip the switches multiple times to find out where all the platforms go and complete the stage.
  • Turns Red: In the first game, Frostwind, Wilfre's scorpion, and Wilfre start attacking more aggressively when you deplete their health enough. In the case of Frostwind and Wilfre's scorpion, they also literally turn red.
  • Undead Counterpart: In the sequel, some of the Watersong levels feature ghost versions of the standard Baki enemy. Unlike normal Bakis, they can't be killed with weapons, only a Goomba Stomp, as your weapons just phase through them.
  • Underwater Boss Battle: The third boss in the first game is a giant fish, who you have to fight swimming, so no Goomba Stomp allowed. This is made harder by the fact said fish has a much larger health bar than other bosses.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level:
    • The second game's DS version has three of these, more specifically, the fourth and final levels of the third village, and the sixth level of the final "village." The second shmup level contains two bosses.
    • The two rocket levels in SpongeBob SquarePants Edition also fit the criteria for this trope.
  • Video Game Sliding: The player is able to slide down hills or slopes. Any enemy they run into on the way dies, and it also helps to get around a little faster.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss:
    • In the first game, Deadwood is a step up from Frostwind, who has a predictable attack pattern, because he spawns in shadow enemies every second and occasionally causes earthquakes, stunning the Hero. The shadow inside Deadwood is also quite difficult to beat because it moves extremely fast and also causes earthquakes.
    • The Giant Robosa in the DS version of the second game is quite a challenge as well. The robot itself has a predictable attack pattern, but if you get hit by one of its fists, it is immune to damage. Also, once you get it to zero health, it sucks you inside and makes you fight its eyes, which breathe fire and have rocket guns to protect them, and its heart, which has homing rocket guns to protect it.
    • The first DoodleBob fight in SpongeBob SquarePants Edition is also somewhat challenging for the second boss. You are introduced to the Jellyfishing Net before the fight starts, and DoodleBob does drop more nets quite often when hit, but his attacks are pretty annoying to dodge. You can destroy his bowling balls with the net, but he's invincible while he's attacking, and you'll probably fail to destroy the bowling balls if you stay next to him when he does this. In the end, though, it's nowhere near as hard as the second or third fights.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Wilfre. Although his methods are Moral Event Horizon-ish, his actions in The Next Chapter were all to stop the Dream Apocalypse. However, when the Raposa discover this, they realize that it was better to risk fading away with the dreams than to live in a world of shadow.
  • Wishing Well: By tossing coins into the wishing well, you can get anything from extra coins, to new special abilities, to access to the secret creator's section. Not every offer of coins gets results, however.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: In the DS version of The Next Chapter, you need to upgrade the Shooter twice until the Hero gets the bright idea of shooting up.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Drawn To Life The Next Chapter, Drawn To Life Two Realms


The creator's refusal

In the first Drawn to life game, you can refuse Mari's prayers and cause the game to end right then and there, at the very beginning.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / RefusalOfTheCall

Media sources: