I’ve never been much of an artist with paper and pen. I can do better than stick figures, but not a whole lot.
Still, I like things that encourage creativity. And using a video game to do that is great. So I was pleased to give the revamped THQ uDraw tablet a try when they sent me a PS3 version.
It comes bundled with “uDraw Studio Instant Artist,” a drawing program that features some Photoshop-type elements. It has more than a dozen brush styles, including airbrush, pen, crayon and fingerpaint. There are also several after effects and plenty of color palettes to choose from. And you can even pick your canvas, with choices ranging from white paper to wood block.
There are also lots of tutorials with animated hipster Remmy, who teaches some art basics. Not only does he guide you through the different tools, but he teaches art fundamentals such as cool vs. warm colors and the importance of contrast to draw the viewer’s eye.
And when you’re all done, you can upload your creations for the world to see.
Unfortunately, I had some serious issues with the game. First of all, there was something going on with the music that was messing up my speakers. It sounded very tinny, and several times I got a sound like something metal was vibrating.
But the worst part was using the tablet itself. It’s extremely awkward and not very intuitive.
The first problem I had was that the cord attaching the stylus is too short. I didn’t have the mobility I desired. And for people who are right handed, the placement of the main PS3 controls (X, O, etc.) on the right hand side (with the arrow pad on the left) was terribly difficult to use. I found myself either using the stylus in my left hand, or having to awkwardly cross the left hand over to the other side to hit the buttons as I drew.
“Maybe I can flip the controls,” I thought. Sure enough, I supposedly could, but the result was inconsistent. Even in the middle of a doing a painting, sometimes I could select with the down button on the left, but then, five seconds later, I couldn’t and had to use the X button on the right. It was terribly frustrating. Even on the options menu itself, once I told it to flip the controls, it said they were flipped, but they still didn’t work right.
The stylus itself has issues, as well. The press-and-hold feature didn’t work like it was supposed to, and getting it to move to where I wanted it to start a new line or fill in a shape was a work of trial-and-error. If I were a kid, I’d probably throw the thing on the ground.
So there’s a pretty steep learning curve with the tablet. Of course, the younger generation often picks up these things faster than I do, so maybe part of it is just me. Like a true artist, you’ll need a lot of patience before you’re churning out masterpieces. And it’s obviously doable, judging from some of the work that has been uploaded.
Using the stylus and tablet, you control a bunch of Superhero Squaddies led by Iron Man. Other heroes include Scarlet Witch, Thor, Falcon, Reptil, Wolverine and Hulk. You go up against Dr. Doom, Modok and others. You use the stylus to tell the heroes where to go, what to smash and who to fight, individually or as a group. You also can draw in special combo attacks or particpate in the fight directly by drawing bombs on the screen.
I didn’t have time to get too far beyond the tutorial. Naturally, it was a bit repetitive as you’re learning the ropes, but I enjoyed it. Again, the press-and-hold with the stylus caused a few hiccups, but I had a less frustrating time than I did with “Instant Artist.”
“Pictionary” is also one of the new games available, and as a fan of the real-world original, I look forward to trying that with a group of friends.
And I bet a new version of “Okami” with this controller could be amazing if Capcom and THQ could make a deal.