Children always require something a little bit extra when it comes to hardware and video games. Every console under the sun is looking for the next innovative way to interact with technology and gaming. THQ’s ‘The uDraw GameTablet’ offers a unique and revolutionary way with which children can have fun with the family on the Nintendo Wii. GGUK had an opportunity to try this new GameTablet which allows children to express themselves through creativity and design, as well as play along with various games.
If you’ve never heard of the uDraw GameTablet you may be pleasantly surprised that this new peripheral for the Nintendo Wii offers the youngsters the chance to draw. Over the years we’ve seen a selection of peripherals that aim to extend playability on their hardware, from dance mats to balance boards and everything in between. The uDraw GameTablet enables individuals to use a tablet and stylus to create not only drawings and paintings, but also interact with games in a new and exciting way. Using the tablet and the stylus is a little tricky to begin with and takes a little while to get used to. The tablet itself isn’t too big and fits snugly on your lap, while you hold a solid thick stylus which is about the size of a giant crayon. Holding the stylus firmly and slightly upright and pressing hard on the tablet, you begin to form images. These images are then transferred onto your screen. In that respect, the uDraw GameTablet is very similar to other tablets that can be used with computers. The stylus has two buttons which enable further functions.
The uDraw GameTablet comes bundled with a nice selection of software, such as the uDraw Studio. This is your chance to get your creative head on and discover your inner artist. Even if you’re not great at drawing, everything is experimental allowing you to create designs and simply erase them. There are various very easy to use tools to experiment with which enable you to draw, paint and colour anything your hearts desire. You don’t even need to be Tony Hart to realize the potential the uDraw Studio has to offer. The easy to understand tutorials cover all the major tools, so you don’t feel you’ve been thrown in the deep end. And remember that using the uDraw GameTablet removes the hassle of cleaning up, if you have the habit of spilling half a ton of paint all over yourself.
There are nine types of media to choose from including the pen and the airbrush. Players can customise everything about their drawings from size to opacity and it’s quite a lot of fun trying everything out. After you’ve drawn and painted, you can even try the 100 stamps and some of the effects, which include sepia, negative and neon options. Players can even zoom into their pictures allowing them to see the detail close up, handy if the colouring in is a little patchy. With eleven canvases to choose, from notebook paper to cardboard, it’s easy to see why children would have so much fun testing out all the types of environments and surfaces. You can choose from eight different environments to encourage creative thinking and these include on a street in Paris, or in a beautiful beach house overlooking the ocean.
Once you’ve designed your masterpiece you can save it to the SD card, which allows users to share, export and print their original work. The only thing I did notice about this section while watching a small child drawing was the fact that the child’s drawing is left with a watermark of the uDraw logo. I don’t know if this is a feature that can be turned off, but I’m not sure how parents would feel having their children’s art stamped. The option to replay your work is quite interesting because it’s nice to see how you progressed to your final image. Creations can unfold in 2x and 4x speeds which enables you to see your picture unfold stroke by stroke. It was nice to see the fun and excitement as I watched a child’s drawing being replayed in front of them. I guess a look of astonishment is one way to summarise it.
The game ‘Spongebob Sguigglepants’ reminds me a little of Wariowares as it’s a series of mini games that you have to complete within the designated time. These challenges are there to test your powers of observation, reactions and skill. Spongebob Sguigglepants even enables you to draw, paint and colour with special Spongebob themed stamps. Every now and then Patchy the Pirate makes the occasional appearance through the game as he entertains us with his humour and silliness. The games are simple and include the likes of players using the stylus to wash Spongebob down, which involves pressing on the tablet in a frantic fashion. Other times you’ll have a tier of sponges which have parts of the spongebob characters on. They’ve all been messed up and you have to drag the stylus around choosing the right combination. There are 100 nanogame challenges, so plenty to keep you occupied.
Dood’s Big Adventure! is another game which can be played with the uDraw GameTablet. In this game you can actually tilt and draw through 60 fun levels in four interesting game modes. The game consists of a series of puzzles in which players have to defeat enemies and collect coins. By using your drawing skills your objective is to guide Dood through each level. This game reminds a little of Scribblenauts. Use the stylus to create a trampoline to bounce through levels or do your worst by flicking ink at enemies and break your way through walls. By tilting the uDraw tablet, using the motion control of the embedded WiiMote, you can move left and right.Players can even personalise enemies if they want to give it that added customization. All of the games are relatively straightforward and easy to play, with bright colourful sprites to keep you entertained.
Overall I like the idea behind the uDraw GameTablet. It’s offering something a little bit different in a creative sense. By adding the peripheral to the Nintendo Wii, it opens the possibility of interaction in a new way, with the simple touch of a stylus and tablet. Parents often find that one of their least enjoyable tasks is the tidying up after a fun filled art session with their children. The uDraw takes that element out and gives parents the peace of mind of knowing that their children can be expressive and creative without all the fuss. It’s an ideal peripheral for the family to share and interact with. Although I felt the GameTablet is aimed at a younger audience, I’m sure the games will provide interesting entertainment as they tilt, drag, flick, and draw their way through the whole host of media and games. Although the stylus and tablet wasn’t as responsive as I had hoped for during my time with it, I fully understand it takes some time and practice to appreciate its full potential.
The uDraw GameTablet including uDraw Studio is available from Amazon for £49.99