REVIEW – Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone (3DS)

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Unleash Your Hidden Potential –

More app than an actually game, Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone is a powerful, well-designed tool to train art newcomers as well as professional visual designers.  Using a step-by-step process, the game gently guides the player from conception to finished product while simultaneously learning about art history and design theory in the process.

The developers at Headstrong Game have put their soul into this 3DS title and it isn’t hard to see how artistic their development team is. The attention to detail contained throughout the entire experience is staggering; from the way each lesson is explained, to navigating all the different paint and drawing options, to even providing background history and examples, Lessons for Everyone is an enticing educational pill hidden inside a tasty treat.

Heh, melons...
Heh, melons…

Each lesson holds the player’s hand and assumes you know nothing about art albeit the skills learned from the previous tutorial.  The beginning lessons really nail down the basics while gradually increasing in difficulty and creativity.  The friendly, wise old art teacher always softly teaches the theory behind each lesson while also encouraging your own individual creativity.  The game never grades you in any way so the player is free to put as much into a lesson as desired.  Even if you think you have no artist ability whatsoever, you will be proud and satisfied when you actually create something following each lesson’s steps.

Working through all the game’s many tutorial sessions will take several hours and more are available via $1.99 DLC.  But venturing on your own is really where the game unleashes full potential as the player is free to create anything; you can even take pictures with the 3DS camera and use that as a reference in-game.  There are tons of options to choose from and this wealth of control is easy to understand and navigate thanks to a well thought out and detailed menu system.  From the type of canvas to how much paint is applied to each brush stroke, the options here are limitless and encouraging. Even the sound effect when mixing paint is satisfying.  There are other details throughout the entire experience that help generate an unexpected easy-going atmosphere like the appearance of Bacon the dog and the soothing musical score. These minor details could have easily been omitted from the final product but the developers took the time to add them to help give the impression of working in an art studio with a kind-hearted art instructor.

Art Academy Paint

As great as this title is there is still room for improvement.  One of the best parts about creating art is having the ability to share it with others.  While it is pretty cool to have the option to save your completed work to your SD card which you can insert into your computer, it would have been nice to instantly upload to Facebook/Twitter/Skydrive or even on an official Art Academy website where other users can rate your work in a social environment.  Saving to the SD card is nifty but sharing your hard works seems a bit limiting.  Next, there is always the possibility of making a mistake since this game is played on a handheld system.  Unfortunately, the lack of an un-do button or history feature puts a damper on the experience but yet still endorses reality.  Also, it is important to calibrate your 3DS touch screen to allow for the accuracy that is required in producing detail.  Personally, I installed a screen-shield on my bottom touch screen and this seemed to hinder the experience as tiny air bubbles on the outer edges never register correctly, so be weary of this if you use such a product. Finally, load times seem a little long and I wish there was a way to create animations.  The opening title screen, for example, features a beautiful flowing stream.  It sure would be awesome to be able to create something like that.  But I guess that is what sequels (or Nintendo’s Flip Note app) are for.

This is a great opening title screen when animated
This is a great opening title screen when animated

Art Academy functions like a piece of art itself.  If you have any interest in learning about art or want a solid but fun alternative for your younger gamer, Lessons for Everyone provides an educational experience that is easy to use, encouraging, and a heck of a lot cheaper than taking college courses. It is also way easier to handle this compact 3DS cartridge than it is buying expensive art supplies that take up a ton of space. It would have been nice if there were more ways to instantly share your creations with the world but replaybility is extremely high and I doubt you will have this much fun learning a new skill thanks to the friendly, gradual, and well-designed learning curve.

*Pro Tip:  Playing this game on a 3DSXL will probably provide a better experience than a standard 3DS. Or even try using the 3DS stand that came bundled with Kid Icarus Uprising for a more comfortable experience.




Better Than: U Draw

Also Try: Colors 3D

Wait For It: a sequel with animation capabilities

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

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