The last time that a gadget like uDraw came out was over twenty years ago now, when Nintendo released their legendary Mario Paint program, which was first released for the Super Nintendo system way back in 1992… so uDraw has definitely been a long time coming, and it has a lot to live up to. In short, uDraw is a drawing tablet for the Nintendo Wii, but it is actually a far more impressive bit of kit than that makes it sound. It’s a chunky and sturdy little unit that allows for a surprising amount of very precise control. It may be aimed at kids first and foremost, but it really does deserve to be compared with some of the professional, budget-priced PC drawing tablets that are currently available.
But the best part is that the uDraw tablet could not possibly be easier to use. The Wii remote slots into the left hand side of it, so the tablet itself does not require any additional batteries. Once you have inserted the Wii remote into the unit you’re good to go, and all that you will need to do is get used to using it. But after about twenty minutes, that will all become second nature. The only fault that we found with uDraw is that there is no hole at the top of it – which would have allowed the Wii Remote’s pointer sensor to poke out through the top of it, which would make the main Wii menus easier to access – but because of how easy the tablet is to use anyway, this is a very small problem indeed. The uDraw unit also comes with a free piece of software included; a superb little art program called uDraw Studio.
uDraw Studio starts by giving you a very short batch of audio tutorials that pop up before you are given the chance to actually start drawing. Everybody should go into the dedicated Tutorial menu before getting started anyway, because there are plenty more essential guides in there too… including tips on how to toy with the ‘Opacity’ and ‘Post Effects’ settings of your pictures. You can also learn how to use the very clever ‘Replay’ function there, which kids will absolutely love. uDraw Studio might be a little bit too complicated for younger children, but a very simple ‘colouring-in’ mode has been included so that they don’t feel left out. Everything that you are able to create in uDraw Studio can be saved onto an SD card and then printed out on a computer. If you want to see how good the uDraw tablet really is, it is also well worth checking out a short video clip that we found on Youtube. In it, a famous American artist called David Kassan uses a uDraw tablet to paint a human portrait, and the results are amazing! You can see that video clip here:
Dood’s Big Adventure
Dood’s Big Adventure is a platform game that has four different gameplay modes. ‘Pen Panic’ involves the creation of trampolines, that you have to use to guide your character towards his final goal. ‘Roly Poly’ does not use the uDraw stylus pen at all, and requires you to do nothing more than tilt the uDraw unit from side to side instead. ‘Bubble Trouble’ (the best of the lot) is played like those classic old fairground buzzer games, where you have to move a metal hoop along a wonky piece of wire. And ‘Fan Frenzy’ has you controlling a small hand-fan, which is then used to pilot Dood through a land of sharp and dangerous obstacles. If the uDraw tablet wasn’t so well designed then none of these gameplay modes would work properly at all, and it just goes to show how good uDraw is that all four of them work rather brilliantly. This game has hidden areas, a star-rating system and loads of little collectable trinkets that will make sure that you’ll be playing it for weeks to come.
You are even able to re-design almost every part of the game if you go to the ‘Create’ menu. Here, you can make your own personalised Dood character, make your own baddies or design ‘Ballonimals’; which are giant airborne animal balloons that float into view in the background while you are playing in the main game. It goes without saying that this is not really a game for older gamers, and Dood himself isn’t the most original main character in gaming history, but the inventive (and very enjoyable) gameplay styles more than make up for the slightly dull hero.
Pictionary is the big one. It is a game that will have no problem convincing people that uDraw can be put to excellent (and very clever) use in party-style videogames. There are loads of reasons why this version of Pictionary is so brilliant. Before every question starts, you are given the option to choose between an ‘Adult’ and a ‘Junior’ clue; so families are encouraged to play with each other at all times. And because you are given a bit more time to draw your answers here than you are in regular Pictionary, you can also use different colours as well as different pen or paintbrush sizes.
And although you can obviously just play a game of straightforward Pictionary, ‘Pictionary Mania’ and its very funny new set of new modes is where the real fun will be had. ‘No Peeking’ asks that you draw your picture while you are also looking away from the uDraw tablet; ‘Rotation Frustration’ makes your drawing surface slowly spin around on the TV as you draw; ‘Shape It Up’ asks you to draw your picture by using only a small selection of shapes; and ‘Off Hand’ asks you to work with your least favourite hand. We have seen uDraw Pictionary being played in large groups on many occasions, and every time the non-stop laughter has caused the game to grab the attention of everyone in the room… with queues of people appearing in a matter of seconds – all of them gagging for a go. If you are a fan of Pictionary (and quite frankly, who isn’t?) then you owe it to yourself to check this game out.
uDraw (with uDraw Studio) Dood’s Big Adventure and Pictionary are all available now for the Nintendo Wii.
Watch the uDraw Pictionary trailer here: