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3.9 out of 5 stars
Art Academy - Nintendo DS
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126 of 134 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2010
Verified Purchase
This is a repackage (with changes) of a product that was originally available as two separate titles in the downloadable DSiWare line. I didn't play those titles but from what I've read this is very similar, so much so that most others online don't recommend the purchase of both the retail and downloadable versions. The downloadables are still available as "Art Academy First Semester" and "Art Academy Second Semester", but both are among the higher priced titles at 800 points each ($8.00/ea.), particularly since this title is now on shelves for a few dollars more as a cart and offers a bit more content.

First off, I'm not an artist - in fact I can hardly draw which is part of what drew me to this originally. The lessons start off fairly simply and from the beginning I felt like I was creating images that were much better than I expected. While I've really enjoyed the title, the lessons section is fairly short and clearly not meant to be the game's breadth or replay value. The replay is in the Free Paint mode- which somehow manages to include a nice array of tools and options while staying fun and easy to use. Players can get inspiration either from a small library of stock images or those with DSi units can take photos and use them in game.

The lessons that are there are excellent and easy to follow. Basic technique is included with helpful images and references to both historically important artists and techniques. The overall effect of most paintings is more impressionistic, which is actually more forgiving for the beginner. Those wishing to create more realistic images will probably not be satistified with the level of detail possible, though a zoom mode does help with control and small areas. I'm guessing however that those capable of realistic drawings are probably already using more sophisticated tools.

A surprising element is the sound in the game. The quiet sound effects and soft music add to the relaxed mood of the title. For once I've found myself leaving the sound up rather than turning it off as I do with many DS games.

The biggest problem with this title is that there is no way to get the images you create, in either the lessons or in the free draw mode, off of the DS. They can be saved to the DS itself, but not to an SD card so there's no way to move the images to a PC for instance, or to print them. This is a huge frustration and a bewildering exclusion since apparently the first downloadable version of this title had this feature. This alone could kill the replay value of the title since who wants to spend a lot of time creating images in Free Play and then not be able to do anything with them? If this one feature had been added this game would likely be getting better reviews in the game press- I would certainly have rated it at least one star higher.

Other more minor issues-
- The early mini lessons limit the tools available to the player to the same ones that were available in the original lessons. So if you've moved on and are used to using, for example, the controls for the amount of paint or water on the brush, and you try to do a mini lesson where that's not available it's not only frustrating but it feels like the game is actually keeping the user from continuing to learn by building skills through experience.

- The images in the lessons and mini-lessons are not available in the reference gallery. This is a silly exclusion, as it would have taken next to no space on the cart to include them and it would have offered the player the complete toolset to try to repaint images without either the aforementioned tool limitations or the instruction. It would have been an incentive to try to repaint the lessons on a player's own and compare results, increasing educational and replay value.

- All lessons would have benefited from including a listing of the steps taken for each type of drawing or painting that could be referred to later. This would have helped learning to draw/paint in general and in getting through the mini-lessons to cement the process of sketching, shading, etc. The game provides some short instruction reminders in the mini-lessons but they're often not as helpful to the really inexperienced artist. Because I didn't play the mini-lessons right after the main lessons I found myself forgetting the steps for layering color to create depth.

- There's no way to trace an image. While a grid system teaches proportion control, it would have been nice to be able to move the reference image to the touch screen for undersketching.

- You can't go back and forth between the sketching and the painting tools. Once you choose to move into painting, you no longer have access to the pencils which is limiting.

While it seems like I have a lot of problems with the product, it's actually been really enjoyable and surprisingly relaxing. If only there were a way to move images off the DS I could see myself using this as a portable mini sketching and painting tool, but sadly I find myself wondering if I should have opted for the online versions with less features overall, but the ability to export. I would love to see another version of this product with a greater number of lessons and the issues above fixed. Either way I would recommend some version of this product to friends, as to which one, I'd suggest they go online and weigh the options.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Art Academy
Category: Nintendo DS

This game is a great introduction to the basics of drawing. The 10 lessons are very thorough and provide enough instruction to get great results.

You start by drawing an apple. It sounds easy, but the game teaches you line-drawing, shading with highlights, lights and shadows, and pencil points. It makes the difference between an apple, and an apple you want to eat, lol.

There is also an option for free painting which is where you can draw whatever you want while practicing the techniques that you have learned. There are options to save your drawing and you can delete and start over at any time.

Also, you can send (within the perimeter of your DS) a demo to friends so they can try the game for themselves.

This game also provides some historical facts about the drawing tools, etc which rounds out the educational value of this video game.

If you are interested in learning techniques to drawing a well developed picture, this game is for you!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
My son has been drawing, rather prolifically, for most of his life. It is what he does to pass the time. When he saw this "game" on the shelf of a local game store and wanted to spend some of his Christmas money on it, I had an immediate concern: Is this aimed at people who have absolutely no background? Would he quickly dismiss it as being too elementary?

I am happy to report that this was the perfect purchase for him. He loves the lessons, accompanied by opportunities to try new techniques (shading, for example). After about an hour straight with Art Academy, my son was proud to bring us an example of something he drew. I told him about my concern about the game being "too easy". He quickly informed me that it's perfect, but he also wanted to make sure that I mention that he thinks Art Academy would be great for someone with no experience in drawing/painting.

To be honest, our DS has been collecting dust lately. Art Academy has changed that, and I anticipate that our son will continue to have a great time with this. He's anxious, for example, to use our Nintendo DSi to take a photo of our cat so that he can then use it to help him make a painting of our cat.

My recommendation: if you or someone you know is interested in art, this just might be the perfect purchase!
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Verified Purchase
There is no question about the joy that Nintendo has shown with imagininaion and mind with their video games for the DS. Since games like Brain Age came out for the system, gamers young and old have been so welcomed into what makes Nintendo so influential with great video games. They haven't been just for kids anymore, but for learning for adults too. Not just with cooking (Personal Trainer: Cooking) or learning new skills, but with fun altogether. While there just haven't been many strong games lately for the NIntendo DS or DSi, it has shown to be a good time using the system as a teaching tool by learning new traits and new skills. That can be shown with a simple paint, a brush, and good idea going through your mind.

Art Academy for the Nintendo DS, takes the idea of just simply painting and relaxing away a lot of stress, by creating some really clever paintings using the simple pencil & brush system. You can easily learn new tricks from adding depth to your painting with shadowing, landscapes like mountains, to learning how to paint your favorite flowers and fruits. The gameplay is simple, as you use your stylus to paint and sketch drawings to any style you like. There is also a great treat for Nintendo DSi owners, as you also can use your own samples. By the use of the Nintendo DSi camers, you can take snapshots of places, and people to make your own sample pictures to get inspiration to paint your own pictures. While the graphics aren't anything over the top, it delivers more like a nice teaching tool, by letting you paint and put your mind at work. The control with the pencils from hard & soft tips, to creating your paints by the color wheel. While the music is also theraputic at times, it isn't anything to rave about. Just the simplicity of getting away from life and troubles, to help calmly making your own sketches from lanscapes and flowers.

All in all while Art Academy isn't going to bring in new gamers to the Nintendo DS, it is a nice escape from everyday life, and how you can put your mind at work by making your own paintings and sketches. It is a nice buy for anyone who owns Brain Age or Big Brain Academy, who wants to expand their horizons, and just relax all their personal troubles away by creating your own masterpieces. For its price and what it is worth, it is a great addition to your Nintendo DS library.

Graphics: B-

Sound: B 1/2-

Control: B

Fun & Enjoyment: B-

Overall: B-
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2011
You CANNOT EXPORT your creations with this version of Art Academy!!!

YOU CAN if you order the 2nd version(the one before this called Art Academy 2nd Semester) from the DSWare shop from the DS device itself. Then you can:

Save your creations to View in Album,
View the album through the camera function,
and then transfer them to an SD Card.

DO NOT buy this product if you want to save your work as a file, you will just be FRUSTRATED. Also, the Second Semester version that you can buy through the DSWare shop(the one before this) that allows you to export is cheaper, the only item it's missing is the Camera function they added to this version, no big loss.

OK, so all that said, it's a good product to just capture sketches and do little studies for further work, though you can create some pretty reasonable "art" with it, artists always manage to make art on anything anyways right?! jk
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 19, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was so impressed by this game! Sometimes writing with the stylus of the DS or DSI is tricky...lines don't appear exactly where you want them to. I thought this might be the case with Art Academy, but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and precision of this game. It's a fresh, fun, new idea. A little Art class at your fingertips! Step by step animated instructions from a cute cartoon Vincent Van Gogh really allow you to see exactly what is being done in each lesson. The lessons begin with the simple pencil drawing of an apple. The game then progresses with each skill allowing you to move forward with amazing results. So far, I've gone through the lessons for different pencils and paints, brush sizes, etc. Along the way, there is always the ability to erase parts or all of your project if you don't like how it is coming out. I did this several times! But with each attempt, you can actually see yourself making progress, learning what works and what doesn't by comparing your picture to Vincent's. This is not a game for really young kids, but I think kids about 10 years of age and older would greatly enjoy it. It's not childish, though, so it's a lot of fun for adults as well. I'd give this a try, if you like being creative and have always wanted to be able to draw better. It would make a great gift for artsy types.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2011
Verified Purchase
I got this for my son's birthday (for his DSi XL) and he really loves it. He even made a real-world painting on canvas based on one of the exercises in the "game". If your child likes art and has DS, you probably won't go wrong getting this. Plus I think it's great to support and encourage game designers to make products that aren't just "games" in the strictest sense of that word.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2011
Verified Purchase
Instruction is great, can do it anywhere, and best part no clean up!!!

Lot's of fun.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The primary user of this game is my 6.5 year old who absolutely loved experimenting with different techniques without even realizing that she was "learning". Each lesson provided her with a sense of accomplishment and she would complement her DSi lessons with the traditional paper-and-pencil mode..(and our refrigerator door and my home office has more than enough proof of her enthusiasm). In fact, this game got her interested enough that we invested in Let's Draw! as well. For a young one, this is a very good way to introduce some preliminary techniques - she benefited the most from the color mixing theory....The inability to email pictures is a major disappointment for my child who uses a digital camera to take snapshots to send it to grandparents...

From an adult user perspective, this is likely to be less satisfying. Lessons are progressively structured, but the challenge is virtually non-existent and you will soon get tired of improving one's "apple" masterpiece.

Overall, good intro to drawing techniques, mostly aimed at children...and absolute novices.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 25, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This review is written by me based on an interview with my daughter.

I picked this up for my 13 year old daughter who really loves to draw. When she took up drawing as a hobby she really worked at getting better. She read books, imitated other artists, and watched "speed drawing" videos online. On our desktop computer we have a Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet that she uses daily. Letting her review this was a no-brainer.

She used this with a DSi XL.

Overall she really liked Art Academy. She thought the best parts were the lessons. She found them to be much more interesting than the tutorials that came with the software on our PC. The tutorials in Art Academy were short and simple and illustrated how the task at hand was done. The lessons used a lot of different tools which kept the lessons interesting. If one of the lessons is particularly good you can re-do that lesson, and once you complete a lesson, mini-lessons are unlocked. For example, one lesson was on shading and how light falls on water. After finishing the lesson, two mini-lessons were unlocked, a dolphin and a sailboat, both using the techniques taught for drawing water. You can stop and save the lesson at any time.

Pros: My daughter felt Art Academy improved her drawing a good bit. She really liked the step-by-step method of teaching the lessons. She enjoyed working with different media, especially mixing paint, but she wished there was an undo button. She felt Art Academy nicely mimicked drawing or painting. In free paint mode you can use the camera to take a reference picture.

Cons: It gets tiring drawing with a stylus on a small screen, even on the DSi XL. Lack of "undo" is also a con.

Overall she really likes Art Academy and contines to use it. It's fun and educational, and does a great job of teaching techniques. She recommends it for all aspiring artists of any age.
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