Game Review: Art Academy (DS)

Nintendo continues to expand its line of non-game software for its portable DS system. The latest entry into the field is Art Academy, a program that provides drawing tools and a series of lessons on how to use them. While it is a recent release as a cartridge game, most of the content previously appeared in a pair of downloadable titles available for the DSi system. In Art Academy, users draw pictures using pencils of several levels of hardness as well as a full set of paints and brushes. Pictures can be created in a free paint mode, derived from photos taken with the DSi camera, or created with guidance through any of the series of lessons included with the program.

The heart of the game rests with the lessons. They step the user through the basics of using the program interface and lead into techniques with pencils and brushes that can be applied to real materials. The lessons can drag at times, but do a good job of introducing many fundamental concepts of drawing and painting including mixing colors and the use of perspective. This isn’t going to replace a community college course, but it does form a fairly nice collection of information to serve as an introduction to the world of painting and drawing.

My main complaint about this fun little title is its over-emphasis on realism. While the touch-sensitive interface is fairly passable at trying to represent using pencils and brushes, the program makes no accommodation to its true digital form. I understand that the program is trying to imitate a true art experience, but it would have been nice to make some electronic concessions at least in the free art portion of the title. Simple, common tools found in other paint programs would have been a very welcome addition. Even an undo button would have been nice. Sure, it isn’t available when you are actually painting on a canvas, but Art Academy blew a chance to make connections to the burgeoning computer art genre, limiting itself to be a fun little toy but no more.

In the end, the title is a worthwhile buy to any beginner wishing to dabble with a bit of art on their DS. Experienced artists may find it a useful way to proselytize their enjoyment, but the linear sequence of lessons will tend to drag for users who have more experience in the field.

Kid Factor: This is a pretty good title for tweens or young teens interested in drawing and painting. Most of the instructions are verbal as well as written, and the lessons proceed at an appropriate beginner pace. While the world of art is full of controversial subjects, this introductory program dodges the issue by avoiding dealing with any of the more edgy subjects like human anatomy.

One Response to “Game Review: Art Academy (DS)”

  1. Art Academy is pretty cool. You can’t replicate the weight of the brush and paint on paper, but it’s still pretty authentic.

    What’s cool is that my grandmother used to paint. She even painted the mural at her church. When I would come over to visit as a kid, she would teach me to paint and one of the first lessons she had me do was paint a tree. Just like in Art Academy!

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