Pokémon Art Academy has tasked it’s self with making us all Pokémon Art Masters. The question is, does it work?
Pokémon Art Academy is an interesting concept. The idea, is that it will teach you how to draw Pokémon, from the most simple of Voltorb, to the colossally complex Groudon. Naturally, the game starts up small, and builds you up to the bigger challenges, but has it taught me how to draw? No.
So, the main story line is very basic, as you would expect for the type of game, it doesn’t rely on a heavy story mode. You, and a rival have simply enrolled into the Pokémon Art Academy, and you are being tutored in the way of the arts by the Pokémon Art Professor, who looks suspiciously like Mario in beret. Your ultimate goal is to become the best illustrator there is for Pokémon cards, which feature prominently through the game, with your final works being shown mounted on a card.
You have three basic game modes, the main bulk of the game is housed in the Lessons mode (which is where I spent a lot of my time on this game), where you progress through 40 art lessons ranging from easy to hard. Then there is Free Paint, where you pick a Pokémon and draw it, using all of the tools and techniques you have gathered during the main lessons. You can even pick an image from your SD card to draw. And lastly, Quick Sketch, which is where you literally, sketch a basic picture of a Pokémon.
The first few lessons are relatively easy, and require no more effort than drawing over some pre-placed lines to produce the Pokémon. Later on, you are introduced to angled heads of Pokémon, instead of face on, and the professor explains how you must take note of the distinctive features when viewing a Pokémon in such a way. The first few lessons are more so to get you use to the tools them selves, the outline pen, pencil, colouring pen etc, with later lessons introducing more complex designs, as well as learning how to draw by recognising shapes and building the picture layer by layer.
The lessons them selves are pretty good, they give you a decent explanation of why you need to do certain things in a certain way, and have a comprehensive step by step guide on how to get from A to B, but I feel at times they can drag on, spoiling the fun of drawing once you get into the thick of it. At the beginning of each lesson, there is a brief overview of the Pokémon you are drawing, tying the game more to the Pokémon world.
Now, as the lessons progress, the difficulty level also increases. For some one who cannot draw any thing more than a stick man, this does pose a problem. It stops becoming fun, and becomes more of a chore, and it can be quite frustrating after you’ve tried amending the same line over and over and over again. I also found that the sensitivity of the touch screen would often make a straight line quite wobbly, especially if you’re drawing quite slow and cautious, though, at times the game does try to compensate by smoothing out your lines.
At the end of each lesson, your picture is compared to that of your rivals, which honestly, looks like it has been drawn by a 2 year old… Though, I understand why Nintendo have opted to do this, to make the player – sorry – I mean artist, feel like they have accomplished more, as long as their picture looks better than the other! You also have the ability to save your worlds of art to your consoles SD card, or to share and be judged by complete strangers throughout the Miiverse.
The game it’s self is very bright, and very colourful, some thing you would expect for a game of this type, making it perfect for younger children, but that doesn’t take away from the fact older gamers can also enjoy it by drawing their favourite Pokémon, of which there is a great selection of, and more are made available each day by the Spot Pass function of the 3DS. The background music is fitting for its purpose, it doesn’t take away from the main focus, and more than a few times I found my self humming along with it.
My main concern however, is people may buy this game thinking it will teach them how to draw Pokémon at an expert level. I mean yes, it does give you the tools, and the knowledge on how to do this, but try as I might, I still cannot draw a Pokémon from memory, or by just looking at it in a photo, and recreating it from a different angle. Pokémon Art Academy is a great idea, and it’s fun to draw your favourite Pokémon and see them mounted on a Pokémon card, but at the end of the day, it won’t make you a true master artist, and I fear the replay value of the title is quite low, unless you must perfect every picture you have ever drawn!