Limiting Your Inner Artist
Released as a free-to-start free app on the Switch eShop, Coloring Book is just that – a digital coloring book. Even though this program doesn’t cost anything, the limited options and scope of overall design won’t hold your attention unless you are under six years old.
The user is free to add color using a number of different painting tools but every aspect is rather limited and the software makes some odd design choices. For example, this app only uses the Joy-Con controllers; the Pro Controller is not supported nor is this warning detailed anywhere. I actually thought my Pro Controller was broken as I couldn’t do anything from the main menu. Stranger yet, the Joy-Cons are used independently in vertical only mode. Sure, this encourages co-op painting sessions but makes navigating the main menu a chore since left Joy-Con can only scroll left and right Joy-Con can only scroll right.
A painting app like this would be perfect for Wii Remote pointer style control but only analog stick support is active here. Combine this inaccurate control with the limited tool set, filling in some smaller areas is rather difficult. The face buttons are used to select the paint tool, like the brush or paint bucket, while the other face buttons cycle through the available colors. Unfortunately, the user can only choose from about a half different colors for each picture which drastically holds back the entire experience. For example, there are dolphins to color in the undersea painting but there is no gray so users will have to paint the dolphin blue, or pink, or maybe even red. This essentially is like coloring with a box of eight crayons instead of that awesome 64-pack. Then there are other strange choices like player 1’s cursor starting on the right side of the screen whereas player 2 starts on the left. There is no pencil tool. There is no option to adjust line or spray thickness. There is no option to adjust analog stick cursor speed. The spray can and scatter paintbrush just doesn’t really fit with the heavily outlined drawings; the paint bucket is really the only way to make the pictures look decent. Each painting is composed of multiple smaller paintings, which is pretty cool, and can be strung together from the main menu and exported to the Switch’s screenshot viewer on the dashboard. True artists will want to bleed each painting into another for cohesiveness.
Downloading the app gives the player access to a couple paintings but paid DLC ($5) is available that unlocks several more paintings like the barn setting, construction site, a little girl’s room, and some cats. The coffee house style music is also super chill but limited just the content within the app. To be fair, it is hard to knock something that is free, but Color Book’s extremely restrictive scope will probably not inspire many artists. The only way this app can be enjoyed is if wanting to show your young Switch player, say in pre-school or kindergarten, some basic coloring techniques. Otherwise, go buy a coloring book and a box of crayons from your local dollar store.
Not As Good As: free paint apps on your phone
Also Try: Mario Paint (SNES) or any of the Art Academy titles
Wait For It: Super Mario Maker 2