originals\ Oct 16, 2012 at 10:10 am

10 games made from arts and crafts

10 games - arts and crafts main

Some games are made up of pixels — others are glued together with paper and paint. And a few are moving illustrations, doodles extracted from the developers' sketchpad ... or your own.

This arts-and-crafts theme is more popular than ever. Here's a look at 10 existing or upcoming games that belong in an artist's workshop.


The LittleBigPlanet developer Media Molecule announced its next project at Gamescom in August. Tearaway is a charming game for the PlayStation Vita that could be a belated system-seller: The people making it are popular, especially with current PlayStation gamers, and it looks like a great use of the touch-screen controls.

Players guide Iota, a papercraft figure that's made from an envelope, through a world that you can interact with by poking and prodding your fingers "through" the screen. The game animates your finger as you move it around. You can also take pictures of your real-world environment and apply the pattern to an animal in-game.

Whatever else Tearaway has in store (and we're betting it's good), we'll find out next year.


Kirby's Epic Yarn

This Wii game, which came out for the console in 2010, is one of Kirby's finest adventures in years. This time, he ends up in Patch Land, and players must work to stop the evil sorcerer Yin-Yarn without the use of Kirby's signature power of inhaling enemies and absorbing their attributes.

Instead, you can transform into different objects, outlined in yarn. A second player can join in as Prince Fluff, a companion to Kirby in the strange world. It's a fun and lighthearted idea that works well onscreen, too.

And we don't know of too many games that are made of yarn and are this adorable.

Kirby's Epic Yarn


This upcoming platformer for PlayStation 3 isn't made of paper, yarn, or any other basic material. But it does look and behave like the product of all those things put together: the kind of cardboard scenery and makeshift props that you would see decorating a real stage.

SCE Japan Studio's game is essentially a rotating pantomime theater, and the team has meticulously constructed countless unique environments for it. In this case, Puppeteer doesn't put the tools and instructions for an elaborate project in your hands; it lets you play around in one.

The name itself conjures images of paper and string, though, and Puppeteer isn't far from that concept. When a tyrant Moon Bear King kidnaps a young boy named Kutaro and spirits him away to a black castle, the child becomes a wooden puppet. To escape — and reclaim his soul — he'll need to steal a pair of enchanted scissors. Now it sounds more like something out of art class, isn't it?


Derrick the Deathfin

Developer Different Tuna's recent arcade-action title, which is now available for PlayStation 3 via PlayStation Network, is an underwater papercraft game — not your average variety.

You play as Derrick, a shark who avenges the death of his parents by eating every papery creature in sight. It's part Sonic the Hedgehog and part Ecco the Dolphin, and the weird level designs show it.

For under $10, it might be worth checking out for all the cool work that went into it alone.

Derrick the Deathfin

Paper Mario: Sticker Star

Paper Mario isn't a new property, but we're curious to see whether we could possibly like it more than we already do now that stickers are involved.

Nintendo's upcoming 3DS entry, scheduled for release in North America on November 11, is another kind of papercraft game — where 2D meets 3D in the form of pop-up scenery and dioramas. Now stickers take the place of restorative items (mushrooms), offensive power-ups (like fire and ice flowers), and more in battle. It's a clever and welcome way to add a little more depth to a game whose novelty has since worn paper-thin.

And we'll learn how well it works it execution fairly soon.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star


Nyamyam, a UK indie studio formed from ex-Rare developers, is creating a Japanese-styled papercraft and pop-up world in Tengami — due out for iOS, PC, and Mac in early 2013.

Players manipulate the world to solve puzzles and discover the game's secrets, a concept not unlike that of Tearaway. This one is a little more mysterious, though, with gorgeous and atmospheric art and a fairy-tale influence.

The trailer brings to mind Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery and how its environment-based puzzles require players to restore unity where disorder prevails.

Tengami is a 2012 IndieCade nominee.


The Unfinished Swan

Developer Giant Sparrow's upcoming adventure game for PlayStation 3, The Unfinished Swan, is an experiment in creating something out of nothing. Players apply black ink to an entirely white canvas, revealing the surreal world hidden within.

You play as a boy named Monroe who chases after a swan that has escaped from a painting. The more you ink you use, the more of the environment you give context and shape.

But this mechanic is only one small part of the game. Eventually, the color palette reverses, and you're thrown into a black world, which you can color white to find your way through.

The Unfinished Swan releases on the PlayStation Network on October 23.

The Unfinished Swan


This upcoming PlayStation Vita game looks like a children's gothic storybook — a world made entirely from chalk drawings.

The protagonist, an evil skeleton guard who feels sorry for a kidnapped Princess, uses magic chalk to create water or string, one of several ways to clear the obstacles that keep her from freedom.

It's a kind of fairy-tale story turned upside down. Like with the princess who kissed a frog and turned him back into a prince, the good guy of this story transforms into a handsome hero after ingesting a magical blue potion. The gameplay sounds like a fun balance of good and evil that's different from the clear-cut moral tales we're used to but still has all the identifiable tropes.



This fan-favorite from developer Clover Studio puts the paintbrush in players' hands.

Originally for Wii, Okami is rereleasing as an HD version for PlayStation 3 this year. Considering how gorgeous its graphics are, we're not surprised. The cel-shaded visuals and sumi-e style (a type of ink-wash brush work in Eastern Asia) turns the game into a living watercolor painting.

Players draw with the magical Celestrial Brush, too, painting symbols that manifest as different elemental powers. Like with many other games on this list, it's an effective way to involve gamers in the artwork instead of just showing it to them.

Okami HD

Yoshi's Island

This classic Mario game dates back to the days of the Super Nintendo.

As annoying as Baby Mario's cries are, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is a wonder of game design. Its graphics look like Nintendo drew them on with crayons and markers, but the vibrancy and creative style they bring to the game is unparalleled — especially among its peers at the time.

And since Mario is just a tyke at this point, it makes sense that the world around him would be interpreted in childlike ways.

Yoshi's Island

What arts-and-craftsy games did we miss?

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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