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A Letter to the Big “N"
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Art Academy Review

KevinS By:
KevinS
11/01/10
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Edutainment 
PLAYERS
PUBLISHER Nintendo 
DEVELOPER Headstrong Games 
RELEASE DATE Out Now
E Contains No Descriptors

What do these ratings mean?

Hey, kids! Need a friend with too much hair like the art dude from TV?


I couldn't have been the only one: Anybody remember Bob Ross? That guy from PBS that would always be so mellow and gentle, but you were aware even as a kid that he must have been wasted on the most calming drugs he could find? Well, I hope you brought your bong sleeping pills, because his essence has been digitalized in Art Academy for DS. Now, it's Vince instead of Bob, and he's got the huge face-fro instead of the crazy white-dude fro, but it's the same persona. Close, but no cigar… though I'd bet he could draw ya a cigar.

click to enlargeThis is a hard one for me to really score as a "game", since… well, it isn't one. It's an animated teaching tool with a touchscreen. The last time I played a game that was meant to teach me something, I was either traveling across the Oregon Trail or chasing Carmen Sandiego, so this is fairly uncharted territory for a self-educated so-and-so like myself. But here it is: an educational game created to teach everyone the thought and details that find their way into artistic works of… art.

Vince narrates each lesson, helping not only to explain what he's doing on the screen, but also why he's doing it. The lessons start with basic line drawing and paint brushstrokes, working up through paintings and how to mix colors effectively. The difficulty per lesson rises slowly, and since there's no way to tell how good or bad your work might be (Vince is pretty good, after all), you can progress through each lesson as quickly or as slowly as you like.

The touchscreen might not be the most precise screen in all the world, but for the purposes of this (and that the stylus is nice and pointy-ish), the "game's" toolset works very well. It might not feel exactly like a pencil or a paintbrush in your hand, but from a digital standpoint it feels sort of like how I would imagine a a digital incarnation of the toolset would appear on paper. The paint-mixing is a little awkward, but everything else is clear enough to just jump in and go.

click to enlargeThe real problem, though, is the presentation. There's nothing... no personality. Nothing that would make this stand out compared to a cheap art book with the pencils included. This is about as cut-and-dry as a college course with that teacher everybody heard was easy but boring. Our good buddy Vince is clear in his approach, but he lacks a reason to stay interested (unless you already are interested, in which case you wouldn't be reading this). He does help, though, by showing every move he's talking about, which is nice. Instead of just reading, you are shown what he means.

Art Academy is a difficult to grade, since it's not “OH MY GOD I CAN DRAAAWWW!” or distinctly terrible. Bottom line is, if you want to learn some of the finer points of how painters do what they do, or are really devoted to improving your visual art, you could likely find some help in this. Otherwise, you're just not going to be interested. So... well, at least now I can kinda draw a lime pretty well. It's more than Bob Ross helped me out with.
B- Revolution report card
  • Nice visual presentation
  • Easy to understand
  • Lots of processes
  • Vince is lifeless (passionate, though)
  • Learning art should be funner
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.


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