Pokémon Art Academy (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 05.07.2014 1

Review for Pokémon Art Academy on Nintendo 3DS

There's something special about the Nintendo DS and 3DS family - as well as creating highly praised portable gaming experiences, the handheld consoles have also been home to a range of educational and informative software. From the challenging puzzles in Brain Training to musical majesty in KORG M01D, the dual/touch screen setups has made these experiences easy to digest and are thoroughly enjoyable.

One of the strongest applications of the touch-screen would surely come in the ability for users to use the stylus to draw on the screen; and so Nintendo developed the popular Art Academy for the original DS console - a piece of "edutainment" software that taught players drawing and painting techniques on the handheld.

The Pokémon series, on the other hand, needs little introduction as one of the most popular, global brands - adorable monsters, intense battles, films, animé and, of course, bestselling games. With a vast range of monsters and settings to draw inspiration from, it's only fitting that Nintendo eventually put two and two together and forge something quite special indeed - Pokémon Art Academy.

Screenshot for Pokémon Art Academy on Nintendo 3DS

One of the initial preconceptions could be that Pokémon Art Academy might just cover the basics and not much else, but the package does offer enough depth to fit nicely into the digital arts series. What's initially apparent is how much of the Pokémon influence has been woven into the game - it isn't just New Art Academy with a different set of pictures to draw; but takes more pages out of the Pokémon set of conventions. Like any good Pokémon RPG, players start off as a complete novice; a new student who, instead of training these critters, wants to develop a career in painting pictures of all sorts of Pokémon. It's here that Professor Andy, a reputable Pokémon card illustrator and the brother of Vince from past Academy games, brings his expertise in a range of lessons.

The brief dialogue between lessons can, initially, be fairly longwinded for those wanting to dive straight in and get messy, but it does help maintain that Pokémon setting, especially for younger players. The first steps are perhaps a little basic compared to the more traditional lessons from past games as it involves putting down simple shapes and colours to draw the heads of critters like the ever-cute Pikachu or the quirky Piplup. From there, it's a case of working with some light and shadow to create more depth in drawings, until the difficulty level becomes cranked-up somewhat to far more complex challenges that do require some patience, thought and a fair bit of trial and error. Fortunately there isn't any time limit or tutoring pestering to break up the flow, with players able to spend as much time with the earlier lessons before diving into the deep end for Picasso-like progression.

Screenshot for Pokémon Art Academy on Nintendo 3DS

Even for more experienced artists, some of the courses can certainly act as useful refresher sessions, especially for those who may have not painted digitally before. Lessons can range from putting together a chirpy Togepi, making slithering starter Snivy to highly detailed scenes like a Charizard with vivid lighting. The professor also teaches the "Eight Rules", key guidelines to drawing the perfect Pokémon.

Beyond the lessons, which do make up a bulk of the game, there is also a free-paint feature with different preset pictures to draw, a blank canvas or the option to take photos of real-life objects on the handheld to act as reference on the top screen. It's here were lessons are put to good practice, with those vital layering, shading and lighting concepts being used to draw everything from action figures in a living room, outdoor scenes or anything else the 3DS camera can grab. Why not put together a few Pokémon plush toys for good measure?

Nintendo have also included a nifty "Quick Draw" mode, with a set of pieces that are designed for more rapid, almost sketch-level of detail. The bonus is that, despite giving a lot of instructions and tips, the game doesn't go about penalising aspiring artists for any mistakes, giving some creative flexibility when it comes to lessons. Pikachu can't be painted green, as such, but line lengths and shapes don't have to be pixel perfect, not look exactly like shown on the top screen.

Screenshot for Pokémon Art Academy on Nintendo 3DS

There are a wide range of tools available, with modifiers like line weight and opacity, paintbrushes, pencils, markers, airbrushes and pastels to allow for intricate details, bold block colours or a more watercolour, natural approach. Mistakes can be quickly undone or redone with the tap of the shoulder buttons, and the camera can be zoomed in/navigated with the 3DS circle pad. The outline pen is another useful addition, acting as a top-layer marker, with paint and the like being applied underneath; great for comic-like or cell-shaded creations.

Even with the smaller screen, particularly on the original 3DS and 2DS consoles, the responsiveness is surprisingly versatile. There aren't graphic tablet-levels of sensitivity, but there is plenty of potential to great some genuinely intricate pieces of art on the small screen.

Visually, colours pop and the fine details can be made out on the console. It's all presented in a charming, Nintendo-like way, with a useful tools interface and smart cut-scenes. However, there is a visible lack of 3D effects in the game, which aren't necessarily needed, but could have been used to make the artwork stand out that bit more, when sitting above one of the included backgrounds.
Lessons complete and pictures saved, the next steps would be to share work on Miiverse directly from the game itself, plus also having work saved and usable from the SD card. It's a straightforward and fairly quick process, and great to see direct uploads from the software, rather than having to faff about with transferring data to a computer.

Screenshot for Pokémon Art Academy on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Pokémon Art Academy is an enjoyable, interactive experience that doesn't skimp on the content and complexity from the main Art Academy series. It's not a game for everyone, but does help those who may previously be averse to drawing learn a few good tips and tricks without any prior art knowhow.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Educational

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

L (guest) 15.08.2016#1

the chespin in the touch screen is just like
ill kill u in ur sleep heehee

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