Nintendo Wii uDraw Game Tablet Review
There came a time when we could not just deal with the wires anymore, and we switched over to wireless controls with some buttons. This is the era when we cannot stand there fiddly buttons and D-Pad either and wish for more control. Nintendo was the first manufacturer to come up with the fling sensitive Wiimote of the current generation, which was, after a long gap, followed up by Sony’s PlayStation Move and Microsoft’s Kinect, which too intends to do the same thing. Now THQ is attempting to do its own little thing by launching its uDraw Game Tablet on the Wii and supplants the wavy wand with a stylus. We could not think of a better new Wii accessory. So, is this the next hot revolution in the gaming industry? Is it a tool to unleash the torrent of creativity? Or, is it just a half baked third party accessory? Read on to find out.
At the very first look at the uDraw Game Tablet for Nintendo Wii, it might feel as if it is a bit fat, but in fact, it falls into your hand quite nicely. It may be about half an inch thicker than the standard Wiimote; one is actually placed to the device’s left. This is actually the only way by which the device gets connected to the console itself. And, it is also good to know that it does not require any batteries of its own. You will be provided with a tiny cable that clips on the Nunchuck port, just wedge the Wii Remote in that slot and you are ready to go.
The tablet feels quite a bit bulky too, which is kind of odd considering that there is not much of circuitry inside. However, despite being a third party add-on, it feels more like that of Nitendo’s work. There are no creaks or squeals and the plastic on the uDraw feels very high end, and this includes the fat stylus that sits flush in the bottom. The stylus looks something like a futuristic pencil for stubby fingers. At the sliver ring, where there will usually be a rubber in the real time pencils, this one has a two way button towards the pressure sensitive tip, and there is a short tether keeping it from disappearing. The 5.5 inch stylus is slightly smaller in diameter than your basic magic marker and is attached to the tablet with a foot-long cord. There is a storage slot in the back, and an inkwell type holder on top.
Not everything on the uDraw Game Tables is all good and intuitive. To begin with, as we had just mentioned, a Wii remote snugs into a slot on the left which leaves its buttons exposed, however, it does cover up the sensor at the front and hence, there is no space on the top of the tablet in order to let the Wii Remote’s infra red sensor to peer through. As you will not be able to use the uDraw outside of the supported games, you will have to pull out the wiimote to interact with any of the system menus and put it back again. Maybe it is just a nitpick, but this really bugs us; Wii remotes tucked into Guitar Hero guitars, for instance, navigate the main menu just fine. You will also be able to see the remote wedges in on the left side, with the intension that you draw on the 4 x 6” pad on the right. It would have taken just a minor alteration in the design in order to allow the remote to slot in either way, but as of now, that is not possible.
Having a plastic stylus gives an unpleasant sensation to begin with. The 4 x 6” drawing surface is a smooth plastic and this plastic nub drags a bit, it kind of feels like a little stylus on a resistive touchscreen with a cheap screen protector over it, one that is probably with a lot of dust trapped beneath it. Obviously, there is no dust trapped on this thing, but the kind of feeling you get is identical and it is not particularly pleasant. When you touch the Stylus to the screen it displays what you are doing on the screen. It works surprisingly smooth with little lag.
The uDraw Studio:
The uDraw Game Tablet is bundled with the uDraw Studio, which we would say is somewhat of a Nintendo-ed and super simplified version of the Corel Painter. We are not trying to say that you will be mixing any virtual paints on the digital canvas to create the amazing effects, but you do get to have a good collection of media at your disposal. Naturally, this includes the usual paintbrush, chalk, pencil, a pen, charcoal and an airbrush; that is just about it. You can even specify the size each individually and choose from hundreds of colour pallets. There is also an option to create your own rubber stamp, for instance, to place the fish silhouettes. Using the stylus is pretty instinctive, but it slides across the tablet surface with so little resistance that at times, the control feels slippery, especially given that the tip of the stylus is in fact a button that you push by applying a little extra pressure to the drawing surface, which is the equivalent of a mouse-click.
Drawing on it:
Just as a console for the kids to make some cool pictures, it works well enough and is just good enough for even the adults to make their own cool pictures, the only issue is that, they still look as though they were drawn by kids. You do have the pressure sensitivity option, but the most annoying fact is that, you will have to go into a menu and enable it with each and every tool selection. In fact, you may have to dig into the menu and toggle with a lot of stuff. We understand that it is only a button press away, but it would be nice if users can custom assign some specific tools to the Wiimote inputs. As the settings are, the ‘1’ option will always load the eraser and ‘2’ option always fills the buckets, because this bucket is widely regarded to the tool that is most often used by the real artists.
Your artistic masterpieces can be exported to SD card through the game, which supports JPEG, or high quality PNG. This results in a curious and decidedly non-high resolution of 576 x 396 pixels, that is complete with an annoying uDraw watermark on it. We think it is a bit of a fail that importing images from the SD card is not an option. For those who are not so great at paintings, you are out of luck, as unlike Nintendo’s Art Academy on the DS, there are no tutorials available on this game tablet to help you to actually get better at drawing things.
If you have not seen the commercials for the uDraw GameTablet for Wii, you may not have been looking very hard. It seems like the ad campaign for this thing, and the two games created specifically for use with it, just came out of nowhere right along with its mid-November launch. These two launch titles available for the uDraw are at a budget friendly cost.
Dood’s Big Adventure:
One of them is ‘Dood’s Big Adventure’, which is a mediocre platformer with a few tablet-specific gameplay devices that just serve to make the game more frustrating to play than it would be without them. Yes, being able to paint your character, that is, the Dood, and his enemies and heaps of random floating animals that hover in the background is a little fun, but if you are looking for more than one hand to count your age you will get really bored with this game before the title screen has finished loading. Still, it is not enough to make up for the repetitive gameplay and the failure to take advantage of the tablet’s unique capabilities. Game-wise, Dood’s is your basic side-scroller, though instead of a single coherent storyline, you are looking at four mini-games of 15 levels apiece. And while they are fun enough, three of them, Roly-Poly, Bubble Trouble and Fan Frenzy, really seem as though they could just as easily be played using a plain old Wii remote and nunchuck, since the stylus and tablet function solely as directional control and attack or jump buttons. The fourth game, Pen Panic, shows a little more ingenuity, since it involves using the stylus to create mid-air platforms for bouncing, requiring some fun with angles and repeated chain jumps sketched quickly with slashes on the tablet.
The next game is the family favourite ‘Pictionary’. This is one of the games that even adults with adore, and the fact is that, the game is quite reasonable well done. In the standard mode, it is the same as the original game itself, albeit with a game show-style announcer offering prompts and the occasional commentary, while the team’s marker pieces and the game board take detailed animated form in a three-dimensional arena. And the pixelated edition does boast an edge for sketchers in the form of shortcuts like straight-line drawing, instant shape creation, the “minus” button for a quick all-erase, and paint buckets for quick colouring. One drawback is that, there is no head-to-head sketching because the game only accommodates one tablet – the “All Play” squares simply mean both teams guess at the same drawing. This also means you will have to come up with a house rule on ties, since, should both teams holler out the solution simultaneously, you are stuck having to either pick one as the correct guesser, or choose “no correct guess,” which is as good as a win for the non-drawing side.
It also has a Mania mode that throws a lot of odd challenges at you, like drawing on a rotating piece of paper or giving you a limited amount of virtual ink. Instead of the board’s coloured squares representing clue categories like “object” or “action,” they assign twists to the play itself. Land on an orange square, for instance, and you are stuck drawing your clue using only the straight line tool; blue means you cannot lift the stylus from the tablet and must create your sketch in a single stroke; red means you are drawing with whichever hand you do not usually use. By far the toughest is the pink square, which means you are drawing with your eyes closed. With the right crew, this game is genuinely entertaining, but then, this is the case with the pencil-based one too. Neither of these is exactly a system seller as it were, and of course the million dollar question is how many more uDraw games are coming in the future.
The THQ uDraw Game Tablet for Wii comes with one year warranty for parts and labour.
Overall, as a Wii accessory, the uDraw tablet itself is fun and functional. Though the Nintendo Wii uDraw Game Tablet is not the most powerful artistic creation on earth, in right hands, it really can be a lot of fun. And, to be specific, those hands have to be right-dominant and belong to a youthful minded, if not youthful person for it to be really worth the purchase. If you have a cousin or sibling kid who is oozing with creativity, but one who you cannot trust at home alone with the art supplies, or of those really games obsessed ones who cannot be bothered to pay attention to anything without a game controller involved, then the uDraw Game Tablet could be a very powerful gift. However, if you are a bit older and mature, have a computer, you may have to forget about this and look for something that is a little more serious; say, a similarly priced Wacom Bamboo might help. Overall, the accessory made by THQ does exactly what is advertised. It gives you the opportunity to draw pictures and make nice looking artwork using your Wii. The kids are going to love it!
THQ uDraw Game Tablet Gaming Console – Technical Specification Table
|Model Name||Nintendo Wii uDraw Game Tablet|
|Accessory type||Drawing controller|
|Supported game console||Nintendo Wii|
|Dimensions (H x W)||9 x 7 inches|
|Storage media||SD Card|
|Connectivity options||Wii Remote port|
|Warranty||1-year limited hardware warranty|