Drawn to Life Series
The Drawn to Life Series is a series of video games that appear on a variety of consoles, including Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Switch, Steam, and most devices running Android or iOS. The original series was created and developed by 5th Cell, with guest developers such as Altron and Planet Moon Studios working on Drawn to Life: Spongebob Squarepants Edition and Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter (Wii) respectively. In 2013, the series IP was sold to 505 Games after the previous publisher, THQ, declared bankruptcy. Since this transfer, both WayForward and Digital Continue have developed games in the series.
Most games in this series are 2D platformers, with only Drawn to Life: Two Realms being more of a puzzle game with a platformer twist. Each game also has a "village mode", where the player can interact with the various Raposa and access the map menus. With the exception of Drawn to Life: Two Realms each game has a focus on rescuing Raposa from the levels, while also collecting various objects ranging anywhere from Templates, Stamps, or Valuable Artifacts. In every game, the player can also create their own graphics, with the main pull of the series being the ability to "Drawn Your Hero!". The player is also able to draw various level objects, village objects, and even some enemies in Drawn to Life: Spongebob Squarepants Edition.
The main series revolves around the story of the Raposa, fox-like humanoids that live in Rapoville, a village closely linked to the Raposa's deity - the Creator. You play as the Creator and as the Creation Hero, a character sent to help the Raposa with their struggles. In the DS games, the Raposa focus on defeating Wilfre, an antagonistic Raposa who challenged the Creator and created the Shadow, the primary malicious force in the series. The Raposa also find two interesting characters along their journey, Heather - a Raposa with Shadow scarring half of her body, and Mike - a Human stuck in Rapoville with no memory of how he got there.
Other main characters include Mayor - the Mayor of Rapoville, Mari - the Mayor's daughter and the last Raposa to continue believing in the Creator, and Jowee - Mari's best friend and a Raposa that loves adventure. Other antagonists include Aldark - a pure-Shadow creature that is set on taking revenge on the Raposa - and Salem - an opera fanatic that rigged a challenge in an attempt to destroy the faraway village of Watersong.
When mobile developers 5th Cell wanted to transition from mobile games to the Nintendo DS, Series Director Jeremiah Slaczka was determined to make something that would use the DS's features in a unique way. The original concept of drawings coming to life was in Slaczka's head for roughly six months before the company began prototyping it.
From that initial concept, the developers began incorporating a platforming aspect, and tied it to the village and story. During development, 5th Cell wanted playing the game to be an experience deeper than just the gimmick of having drawings come to life, and made sure players were always drawing something new and unique to add to the game world. The biggest technical challenge was making the drawing tool easy to understand yet not limiting how players could draw, although they eventually felt confident with the results.
Multiple early documents and milestone builds of the original game have been released to the public, with information on them available here:
On September 10th, 2007, the original Drawn to Life was released exclusively on the Nintendo DS. Developed by 5th Cell and published by THQ, it was received well by critics and went on to sell 820,000 copies by March of the following year. In Japan, the game was published by Agatsuma Entertainment on December 4th 2008, releasing under the title Drawn to Life: God's Marionette. In Korea, the game launched on January 15th, 2008 as: Geuryeora, Touch! Naega Mandeuneun Sesang.
During the development of the original game, series publisher THQ was looking to produce more games themed around their Nickelodeon IPs. When Drawn to Life released, they noticed the conceptual similarities between it and the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Frankendoodle." As a result, a Spongebob-themed version of Drawn to Life was envisioned. Due to 5th Cell working on Lock's Quest, Japanese developer Altron was contracted to develop this new spin-off. The game was released on September 15th, 2008 in North America, on the 25th in Europe, and on the 26th in Australia. On November 3rd, 2008, the game was released in Japan.
Following the success of the prior two entries, and the growth of 5th Cell in the time since, a direct sequel began development on the Nintendo DS. Being far more ambitious than the previous title, it sought to top the original in every way. Releasing on October 8th, 2009 in North America, on the 16th in Europe, and on the 27th in Australia, the game was received well by fans and critics alike. Strangely, it did not receive a Japanese release.
While 5th Cell developed the Nintendo DS version of Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter, THQ contracted Planet Moon Studios to develop a version of the game for the Nintendo Wii. Despite sharing the same name, the game has very little in common with its DS counterpart, and the game is considered non-canon to the series. The development process was particularly rough, with multiple developers citing weeks of crunch and poor organization as contributing factors. Despite this, it remains one of the best selling games in the series, behind Drawn to Life: Spongebob Squarepants Edition. It released simultaneously with the DS version.
On November 3rd, 2010, a compilation of the orignal Drawn to Life and Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter was released under the title Drawn to Life Collection. Due to an ESRB complaint, the ending of the sequel game was changed to depict a child falling out of a tree instead of the more brutal car crash. This is the only major change in either title. Strangely, 5th Cell did not help develop this compilation, leaving THQ to change the sequel alone.
On December 19th, 2012, THQ declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, resulting in an auction of all of their IPs before their merger with Nordic. The Drawn to Life Series was sold to 505 Games for $300,000. They did not release anything under the Drawn to Life name until releasing an iOS port of the original Drawn to Life on May 21, 2014, developed by WayForward and releasing to poor reviews. The series would then lay dormant for the next six years.
On October 22nd, 2020, a rating for a yet unannounced game was leaked on a Taiwanese ratings site. Shortly after, series Producer Joseph Tringali and 505 Games Brand Community Manager Jade Oakley joined the Drawn to Life: For All Discord server and showcased information relating to Drawn to Life: Two Realms and multiple pitches that were shut down between 2014 and 2020.
Later that year, on December 7, 2020, Drawn to Life: Two Realms was digitally released on Nintendo Switch, Steam compatible devices, and most devices running Android or iOS. It was developed by Digital Continue, a company made up of many former 5th Cell developers. Fans and critics alike criticized the release for straying away from the series roots and for an odd lack of user-drawn objects in the levels.
During an interview with Nintendo Everything, Executive Producer Joseph Tringali stated that Digital Continue would like to work on remakes of both Drawn to Life and Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter, as well as a bigger sequel to Drawn to Life: Two Realms, and that the team would be open to non-video game endeavors under the Drawn to Life brand, but that all of these projects would rely on the reception of Drawn to Life: Two Realms. Due to the subpar sales and reception of Drawn to Life: Two Realms, the future of the series is currently uncertain.