Review: Art Academy (Nintendo DS)

Art Academy is a brand new Nintendo DS title that is aimed at stirring those creative juices. Art Academy transforms your Nintendo DS device into virtual art class class that teaches you everything from the basics to more advanced techniques. When I first heard about this title, I was pretty intrigued by it especially since I thought the Nintendo DS might actually be a really good platform to teach art on. This is because the Nintendo DS has a touch screen that utilized a stylus. I was an art major in college so I was quite curious to see how well Art Academy’s tutorials were and if they were easy to follow, especially for beginners.

Art Academy is not really for kids, especially kids who can not read yet. There is a lot of text in Art Academy and all the lessons are text based, there are no voice tutorials. If you want smaller children to learn from this game, you’re pretty much going to have to play it along side them and read all the text out loud to them. The concepts may be a bit difficult for young children to grasp also but I think as they use it more and more, they’ll begin to understand the concepts better.

For those that can read, you’ll find that the tutorials are very easy to follow. The onscreen teacher, Vince, is quite thorough with each tutorial and he always shows you how to do things before hand so that you can replicate the process. For beginners, this can be very helpful as he takes each lesson rather slowly as he goes through each step. For more advanced users, this might be a bit too slow as you want to get one with each lesson as quickly as possible. For me, it’s been a while since I’ve touched any real art tools so these lessons were great as a refresher.

Once you complete all the lessons, you’ll find that that the tutorial portion of Art Academy has no real replay value as you will most likely never go back to them again. That is okay however because Art Academy includes a free draw mode where you will spend the rest of your time. In free draw mode, you can create anything you want using all the tools in Art Academy at your disposal. If you have a DSi or DSi XL, you can even use the built in camera to take photos of subjects and use them as reference for your creations.

The only downside to Art Academy is that any creations you make can not be exported to an external source. There’s no way to print these out or share them online with others. That’s a real bummer because as with most art, you want to share your creations and show off your improved skills. The only way you can show off your creations to others is to carry your DS with you at all times and show it off like that. That method is not really too convenient. It’s not a big deal though if you don’t really plan on sharing your creations or if everyone you care to share with is in the same household. Still though, the lack of an export feature is really the only thing hold this back from being a perfect title.

Art Academy is available now in stores and in my opinion, it would be a great gift for any aspiring artist. The tutorials are very detailed and thorough and the free draw mode is quite good. Owners of a DSi or DSi XL will make better use of the software though thanks to the built in camera. It’s a fun, educational title that should help anyone improve their artistic skills to some degree.

Rating: B+

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