Vince and Bacon are back to teach you all over again.
After spending some time as a DSiWare title, 2010 saw Art Academy released as a full retail cart, offering to teach the masses how to create impressive works of art on their Nintendo handheld. It was an impressive piece of software which certainly did what it said on the tin, but I must admit to being surprised at how popular the software ended up being. It seemed to remain in the charts for months, I assume being snapped up by those who wanted more than just games from their handheld. Or maybe it was just being purchased by over-eager parents hoping to get their son/daughter learning something other than how to jump on turtles and eat mushrooms…
Whatever the reason for its popularity, it really comes as no surprise that Nintendo are offering a sequel, albeit two years later (Nintendo are never known to rush anything, are they?). New Art Academy sees the return of everyone’s favorite art tutor (since that bearded guy from the seventies), Vince, and his faithful dog Bacon. It is now time to join them on a voyage of artistic discovery on the 3DS and 3DS XL, as they expose your inner Rembrandt, whether you want it exposed or not.
Ensuring that the content is relevant to both those who would struggle to draw a stickman, and those who created works of art in the previous title, New Art Academy offers lessons in both a beginner and advanced flavour. These lessons are deep and involving, explaining at a slow and steady pace not only the different methods and tools required to create the chosen masterpiece, but even going so far as to explain terminology and reference other works of art. New Art Academy does a great job of playing as teacher and anyone who is willing to learn will get a great deal from these lessons.
The lessons have to be completed in order to access the next one, which can be a bit of a drag at times, but each completed lesson unlocks a much less rigid mini lesson in which the student can play around with what they have learnt. Of course, Vince is on hand at all times to remind the student if they should happen to falter. There are some 16 lessons in total, and 16 mini lessons, so those who want to learn will not be short of content.
But what about those who don’t want to learn and just want to have fun? Well, Nintendo have you covered too with the free paint mode. This is exactly what you would expect and provides access to all of the software’s extensive collection of tools. Pastels, pencils, paints, brushes, canvasses, the options are really quite astounding, and that doesn’t include all of the different techniques available, and palette mixing. For those who are not interested in the lessons, there is still a lot to play with in New Art Academy.
When it comes to the actual act of creating your masterpiece, everything works really well. The menus are all laid out simply and are easy to navigate, the touchscreen is impressively precise and, as long as the artist holds their stylus properly, things can be replicated on screen in amazing quality. There is a zoom tool which will be needed quite a lot by anyone using a 3DS, but much less so for the 3DS XL.
Expanding on the content included in this package will be both DLC and custom lessons. These custom lessons will allow anyone with the required skill to lay out their own lessons and offer them to others across local wireless or even SpotPass. The content included is enough to keep budding artists busy for months, and the inclusion of DLC down the line will likely keep those artists coming back until the next title is released (which I can see turning up on the Wii U).
Masterpieces can be shared with others by saving them to the SD card and sending them out via the Nintendo Letter Box, or uploading them to the Internet via a PC. There is also the option to share artwork via SpotPass and local wireless, but this will require the recipient to also have a copy of the software.
There is a massive chunk of content here for the artistically inclined, of that there is no doubt. Whilst it may not have changed much since the original title from two years ago, the emphasis is on more, and for the fans of Art Academy, more is likely all they want. I still can’t help but feel that New Art Academy is a very niche title, but the popularity of the original surprised me and I have no doubt that this will too. New Art Academy has everything you need to become a damn good artist.