Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Draw-Play 2

Draw-Play 2 is a clever idea which, unfortunately, is executed with all the skill and cleverness of the maiden voyage of the Titanic. If you're determined to get the badge (as I was), be prepared for quite a bit of frustration. (In Kongregate's defense, you can tell that this is a game from Kongregate's early era, when there were so few games on the site that pretty much anything got badges. There's no way a game this poor would get a badge today.)

So, the basic concept of Draw-Play 2 is really interesting. You have a pretty standard platformer environment, with walls, spikes, turrets, and whatnot, and your object is to get your character from his start point to the flag. But the catch is that there's a lot of things missing. Fortunately, you can draw on the level with your pen, and then your character can walk on what you've drawn, and voila, you're at the flag! What's wrong with Draw-Play 2, then? Probably the simplest way to answer this question is to walk through the first few levels.

"Okay, first level. Let's see, I'll just draw a big ramp. That wasn't too bad. Hmm, second level. OK, there's a wall in the middle, so I'll just draw ramp up to the wall. Now, I'm here, so I'll draw another ramp going back to the left. Wait, I can't jump up onto this new ramp that I just drew? Uh, well, let's draw a new ramp then. Okay, third level. Hmm, there's this really narrow space I have to climb up on. I guess I'll draw a series of platforms. Oops, this platform is a little too low and I can't jump past it. Well, I'll just erase it...wait, erasing erases everything that I've drawn? I guess I haven't lost that much. OK, this time I'll be really careful. Oops, I missed that jump and hit the spikes. Wait, now I can't even jump onto the first platform I drew. I have to restart again? Dammit, now I hit the spikes again! *SMASH SMASH*" And this is just level 3. There are 40 levels.

So, let's go over the sins of the game. As mentioned, there are 40 levels, and nearly every single one of them is frustrating. Also, you can't save, so you have to do this all in one sitting (which did not help my rage levels very much). The lack of selective erasing is incredibly annoying -- one minor mistake in either drawing or maneuvering can easily undo all of your work and force you to start all over from scratch. The collision detection is incredibly poor, so even getting near the spikes will result in your immediate demise. The game doesn't deal well with you being near your drawings, so sometimes you can jump through your lines, sometimes they block you, and sometimes you just get incredibly glitchy behavior. And the level design is consistently irritating -- rather than puzzles which delight you with their cleverness, you get instead spikes, rotating spikes, moving spikes, sideways spikes, and then the same but with the lights turning on and off during the level. It's a miserable experience.

There's no sound (I did manage to get a startling scream once when I managed to glitch my character offscreen, but that's about it), and there are four (unlicensed, I suspect) tracks available for music, none of which is particularly well-suited for the game feeling and all of which will drive you batty in short order. Anyway, you can finish this game, but be prepared to part with a fair amount of sanity if you do so. It's a shame because, like I said, I think there's a very interesting idea lurking underneath the game, but it's just such a bad implementation.

(If you're determined, despite reading this, to give it a try, at least heed these two tips. First, change your pen color from black. This makes it a lot easier to cover over spikes that you're walking on without accidentally getting killed by them. Second, more importantly, if you put your pen at your character's feet and draw upward, your character will move up. This is by far the least frustrating way to move up.)


ToastyKen said...

Draw Play 3 solves the erasing problems, at least; it allows selective erasing:

But yeah the level design needs some serious work.

Paul said...

Yes, I tried Draw Play 3 and found it pretty much vastly better across the board. But it doesn't have badges, so I'm not going to play the whole thing yet :)

ToastyKen said...

Badges? They don't got to show you any stinkin' badges! :P