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uDraw Gametablet with uDraw Studio Review

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Posted by: Ben PerLee

Review Rating 7.0 Good
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I came home late that night. I had just come back from a Pictionary event THQ threw in anticipation of their uDraw tablet, which has just come out for the PS3 and Xbox 360, in addition to the Wii release last year. I was mostly drunk and buzzed enough that opening videogame boxes felt like fun.

THQ was kind enough to give me a copy of the uDraw gametablet, the accompanying uDraw Studio Instant Artist, and a copy of the uDraw-supporting Pictionary Ultimate Edition. Slurry, unfocused, and drunk, coloring sounded like fun, so I popped in the Instant Artist game, and messed around with the device.

Twenty fuzzy minutes later, I had created the greatest paint-by-number painting of jellyfish slathered with a painterly veneer.

To me, this is the best reason to own the uDraw tablet. Until Ubisoft releases their new Drawsome tablet for the Wii, and Nintendo’s own Wii U releases next year, THQ’s funny, little, motion sensitive tablet is the only artistic device for consoles. If you’ve played with Mario Paint in your formative years, or played with the Wii version of uDraw, you should know exactly what you’ll get--a surprisingly fun and creative toy that makes up for its lack of technical impressiveness with enjoyable and simple products.

Case in point is the Instant Artist game. Surprisingly deep, players can create all sorts of drawings and artwork on their TV, and the included tutorial on basic artistic techniques is somewhat helpful. For those willing to put in the time, it’s fairly easy to create nice-looking stuff in a short amount of time.

Unfortunately, the problem with the uDraw tablet is the fact that it’s not the most  intuitive device ever. For most games, the location on the touchpad is 1:1 with the location on the screen, which just doesn’t feel right at first. After a period of time, it gets easier, but most people will struggle with it until they come to grips with its odd little quirks.

Pictionary Ultimate Edition is a surprisingly fun party game, and is one of the best party game experiences I’ve had with the Wii version. It’s probably the best software for the uDraw tablet, although its $40 price tag is a little high. Games are broken down into different variations of Pictionary, but while it’s nice to have the game take control of the scoring and animate the little Pictionary man players can decorate, the experience isn’t that different than playing the board game. Since most people who will play this have very little experience with the uDraw tablet, expect most drawings to remain the black scribbles that make very little sense. Letting the game throw curve balls at the player, such as rotating the screen or changing the marker type, offers some fun challenges to differentiate it from the real game itself.

That said, I wish the game was a little more obvious in letting you really own the experience. One particularly memorable game saw one team accidentally indicate they won a challenge, when they had not, due to a hindrance with the uDraw tablet. This virtually ruined the game, and I wish the game would be a little better in giving players control, like with the actual real life game.

The uDraw Tablet and its accompanying games are fun, simple, and quick to get into. It’s not the best device, but it gets the job done just fine. If you can wait, I might just pass on this $80 product in anticipation for the Wii U (and THQ’s inevitable uDraw software), but if you’ve got kids and family, it’s not a bad device.

[Reviewed on Xbox 360]

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