uDraw? I thought it was MY turn.
It's easy to write off Pictionary as something more suited to the board game closet than a TV screen, but with touch pads getting super cheap, THQ took advantage of the chance to get us all playing Pictionary again. I don't know if it's something people were missing—I haven't played since I was a child—but here it is again.
Drawing pictures is always the name of the game, and the uDraw is unwieldy at times. Unless you're an artist and used to drawing with your hand away from what you're drawing on, you're likely to accidentally zoom in constantly and screw up your already-beautiful and photo-realistic piece of digital art. If you keep your hand up and take a minute or two to adjust to the touchiness of the pad, though, everything is just fine.
There are two modes in this "ultimate" edition. The first is the original Pictionary just as it was on the Wii and just as it's always been. I couldn't notice any notable differences between the Wii incarnation and playing it on the 360. The uDraw Games Tablet is a bit thinner on the 360/PS3, so it feels more fragile than the thicker Wii pad (it's as thick as the Wii-mote after all), but to my eye it's a lot nicer and put together better. And thankfully, only one pad is necessary for an entire game. Again, not different from the Wii, but this time I actually feel like using it. Not just for Pictionary, but for any game that doesn't need the twin sticks, and only to see the look on a friend's face when they see you've killed their high score with a touchpad.
Pictionary Mania is a different beast than the typical draw-and-guess game, complete with different rules for most squares. Rounds like Lights Out have the entire screen turn dark intermittently, while Dots Only have the lines you make dotted (whodathunk, eh?), and Which Way Is Up completely reverses the already-sketchy (pun intended) controls. The game is still exactly the same, but the different challenges add another dimension to the game: a downright silly one. This, you can imagine, can be incredibly fun with a group of drunken buddies, as well as when making a personalized Pictionary Man, an animated board piece to dance around the board with. He even has butt cheeks, but you can't draw on them. (Robbed of some great moments there.)
If the tablet came with Pictionary instead of just the bland drawing and coloring book software, I could totally see the appeal. But with the game retailing at a full forty dollars and the uDraw a very full eighty bucks, I just can't really recommend it. At least right now there's isn't much reason to buy the tablet otherwise… unless you're a little kid and a fan of Spongebob or Disney princesses. Twenty bucks for the board and pens versus a cool C-note and change for hardware and software? This is just too much investment for, essentially, one title. Now if THQ supports it with some quality stuff—interesting stuff—its future may be gold.
And c'mon, I wanna draw on Pictionary Man's butt! The tramp stamp just ain't enough!
Review based on Xbox 360 version. Copy provided by publisher.