Pokemon Art Academy Review: More Coloring Book Than Art Class

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The Dwebble in the Details

Pokemon Art Academy is a lot of fun for what it is…but that’s just it. In order to enjoy it, you pretty much have to like drawing, but not be particularly fabulous at it, like Pokemon, and be willing to draw on a 3DS. After the lessons I learned with Professor Andy, I do feel my ability to freehand Pokemon has been improved somewhat, but I’m not going to be creating fabulous artistic miracles for friends at parties, and some of the lessons don’t translate well to actual pen and paper. A lot of the lessons early on amount to glorified tracing. The game uses many elements reminiscent of PhotoShop or other computer image editors, such as layers, and thus might be a really good game for younger kids who are interested in such things but might not be ready to graduate to complex image-editing software.

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I know this isn’t mean to be an adventure game with an epic soundtrack or anything, but I have to say–turn off the music as you play. It’s elevator music and essentially plays the same three tracks over and over again. They could have recycled Pokemon X and Y music in the background while I was drawing, and it would have been ten times better.

The overall tone of the game is laid-back and easygoing. There’s no penalty for drawing badly and no reward for drawing well–just the endless opportunity to draw better and learn more at your own pace. Even if you’re a terrible artist, your worst critic throughout will always be yourself, and you’ll progress through lessons just as quickly as someone who draws everything perfectly.

Finally, my only other complaint is that the difficulty curve spikes halfway through. The first few sets of lessons take you by the hand and walk you through slow and easy, perfect for folks who know zero things about art. However, once you hit the more advanced lessons, suddenly all the stops are pulled and you’re sent hurtling forward without training wheels. I wasn’t able to make anything that looked much like a Pokemon at the more advanced levels without grotesque amounts of tracing and some simplification of the design. However, more advanced artists might welcome the sudden freedom.


Pokemon Art Academy is a niche game. It specifically appeals to younger kids, and specific folks in the older set that like Pokemon and art but maybe aren’t fabulous at art already. It won’t turn you into Van Gogh, but it’s a lot of fun, like coloring in a coloring book for awhile in the afternoon. What it does, it does well, making good use of the 3DS’s capabilities and offering a fun challenge for any skill level if you don’t care too much about the results. That said, its art tools are rather limited in scope, and it has a very narrow appeal.

If you fit into any of the groups above (or just really want an ORAS demo code that badly!), pick up the game! It’s not really a game for binge playing, but fun to pick up in the waiting room or at the DMV for a few minutes of coloring fun. With low-pressure lessons and easy sharing capabilities, Pokemon Art Academy is a good game for all ages to combine two normally unrelated activities (art and Pokemon) in a fun way.

(A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review.)