Art AcademyAs an art enthusiast, I was pretty nicely prepared to try out Art Academy for the Nintendo DS when I saw it on a store shelf. On a whole, I have not really been disappointed, though I did find myself getting bored quite quickly.
The game promises to make you a more skilled artist with a very simple concept... lessons, some with their own little mini lessons, more like exercises to practice the specific skill that was talked about in the main lesson. It's not very complicated and, even if you aren't in the least artistically inclined, you'll find it extremely easy to come out with something relatively good-looking at the end of the lesson. Which is something I have a problem with. While the game quite often drifts into a more educational side of things and can do a pretty good job of explaining the concepts that go into painting and drawing without losing you completely, most of the time it ends up telling you exactly what to do every step of the way, so there's not really any possible way, unless you really tried, to go wrong. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the game doesn't really present much of a challenge to the player. But that's just my opinion, and while I'm no Leonardo, I'm not half bad at drawing.
While the lessons can be pretty entertaining and can make you feel satisfied when you've made something you didn't think yourself capable of, they don't really ever deliver on excitement. I get that it's not supposed to be a proper game, but it's often just very linear and boring. And it doesn't even allow you unlock more and more future tools and lessons as you go. The game presents you with everything you need and all of the lessons when you first start out, and just sort of assumes that you are taking the lessons in the correct order, which is, as you'll discover, in your best interest to do.
The mini-lessons that the game presents aren't exactly diferent from the main lessons, there's just less guidance, and you may just want to skip them because they're there for the purpose of getting practice, and what would be the point. The game's not really realistic in the skills it presents. What I mean to say is that while the concepts and tools presented are in fact used in the real world and are implemented well in the game, most of the art effects aren't really real and will give you a false sense of security should you try it out in real life. There's just no challenge and if you start to think drawing and painting is that easy in real life, just wait until you discover that it's virtually impossible to use the flat of the pencil to make such a perfect line in reality.
The game does come equipped with a pretty cool, DSi compatible camera feature, which allows you to take pictures and use the tools you use in the lessons to recreate that using a grid or pretty much do whatever, or you can just freepaint to your heart's desire. You can save all your images in the handy Gallery, but for some reason it takes 5 seconds just to load each and every image. Doesn't sound like much but it seems lengthy in game.
I feel as though I haven't really said much about the game, but really, there's nothing to say. It's just borderline informational and while you can marvel about how easy it is to paint a life-like masterpiece in about 3 minutes the first couple of times, once you finish the lessons, if you even decide to, there's no real motivation to free paint and it just becomes boring. I suppose though, the game is not intended to be a real game, so while I wouldn't quite dignify it with the word "academy," it at least accomplishes what it pretty much set out to do. Good for if you're really bored, I guess.
The game has pretty good, average animation, with a repetitive, looping GIF of the instructor for about the only game-generated movement, but the paintings and effects usually look pretty good.
Unfortunately I can't say a similar thing for the sound. It consists of some often awfully simple tunes and some very repetitive and annoyed sound effects. The quality is not particularly bad, you'll just find yourself muting the sound a lot.
Overall, the game does what it's supposed to, but it doesn't really present anything interesting, and it's surprisingly easy to paint something that would take weeks in real life. Safe to say, it's not as realistic as it often claims. While parts of it are briefly entertaining and could appeal to the more art-ish type, most indifferent people will end up lost somewhere in the instructor's rants about how the color wheel was founded.