I confess to not having played the original Drawn to Life back when it came out, but I've a pal who's a SpongeBob Squarepants fan, so when I was at THQ's Fall/holiday season preview event in New York City, I had to take a peek.
A rep demoed the DS title for me, and explained the gameplay is similar to the original Drawn to Life - this time, obviously, with a big SpongeBob cartoon theme. It's actually based, she said, on an episode of the TV series where Spongebob accidentally scribbles himself an enemy, "DoodleBob," a drawing come to life.
Like I said, I never played Drawn to Life, but I heard at length from lots of friends and readers that the platforming was nothing to get excited about, so I asked whether they'd taken that feedback and cleaned it up this time.
Apparently not so much - the rep explained that Drawn to Life is actually targeted at kids, not older gamers, so we'd be mistaken to expect particularly complex, high-level gameplay. The appeal, she said, lies in how customizable the world is, giving the player the opportunity to draw and customize not only the player character, but gameplay elements like buildings, background elements and platforms in an MSPaint-like pixel-based stylus interface.
In the SpongeBob edition of Drawn to Life, players can pick either the titular sponge, his friend Patrick the starfish, or surly Squidward as a companion for gameplay, and each one lends a certain ability - SpongeBob provides a shield, and Patrick and Squidward have different special attacks.
The game looks rich with trademark Nickelodeon style, and one thing I'd think would make it really appealing to kids is that there are modes that teach them how to draw the key characters, so if they want to draw themselves a SpongeBob character and play as him, they can, but maybe not so much there for an audience our age unless you really love SpongeBob and don't mind simplicity.