This is the cat I drew with the uDraw for PS3. His name is Derpy. uDraw is an interesting little piece of technology that probably didn't deserve the fate it received. Does it suck? Not really. It lacks, polish, to be sure, but I think a lot could have been done with only a little bit of additional refinement.

To give a basic overview of what uDraw offers out of the box with its pack-in game, uDraw Instant Artist, it pretty much resembles an early version of MS Paint. In fact, it's damned near identical to some Crayola studio thing for Windows 95 I had when I was 5 or 6 years old. The obvious "paint your own shit" option is there with a wide range of canvases and drawing tools, but it's a lot deeper than I expected, in that it comes with a whack of paint-by-numbers, connect-the-dots, colouring books, mazes and stuff like that. It's not a game I'd buy, but as a free pack in with a drawing tablet, it's competent, and it offers a few hours of, uh... "Fun", I guess? It's definitely for little kids, but for what it is, it's completely acceptable. One really disappointing result of the uDraw failing miserably is the death of its website - the Instant Artist game features a "share" feature, where you can upload your art online for others to see. That could have been an amazing feature, both for people sharing legitimately cool creations and for people sharing their crap with their buddies for the lulz.

As for the tablet itself? Eh. Again, it's merely competent. I have no doubt that the components inside are somewhat expensive and of a reasonable quality, but I feel like it's got some distinct design problems. For one, it uses an infrared dongle, and a bad one at that. I find it loses connection a lot while drawing. Say I'm colouring in a large space - the tablet will "lag" and hover in space, then when it reconnects, draw a giant line to wherever I've since moved the cursor to. It also has some problems with the pressure sensing - the amount of force you have to apply for the tablet to detect the stylus varies pretty widely, and since you lightly drag the stylus across the tablet to move the cursor and apply pressure to actually paint, it can be frustrating. This could have easily been remedied by putting the pressure detection in the stylus itself rather than in the surface (seriously, in what way is a single microswitch less cost-effective than what is essentially an industrial HMI?). But with all the failings of this device, it does have a lot of highlights. First off, the tablet itself - drawing tablets are pretty pricey, and while I realize this thing launched at like $60, paying $10 for a gimped equivalent of a real drawing tablet is actually a fantastic deal. It also has a built-in gyroscope for sensing motion, and it's actually pretty accurate. The physical buttons are functional as well, and I've actually played a few simpler titles (Scott Pilgrim, Simpsons Arcade and X-Men Arcade) with the tablet, and it works perfectly fine. Honestly, that $60 price point isn't offensive, considering the manufacturing costs that would go into such a device.

Another disappointing element of this product failing is the games library - while there were about a dozen games (mostly licensed games) produced for the Wii uDraw, the PS360 version only got three titles - the Instant Artist pack-in, Pictionary (which looks like a solid addition, something I'll probably pick up on the cheap) and some Marvel thing that looks dumber than a ballsack. I think that if this device was geared at an older audience, it wouldn't have been the failure it was. I'm 23, and I consider myself a hardcore gamer, but I really enjoy messing around with the uDraw. Imagine some of the games that COULD have been - An obvious one is Okami. While the tablet itself lacks shoulder buttons, I'd have no problem putting down my controller and stopping to use the uDraw, just for a bit of added authenticity with the experience. :P But even in terms of art software - a preteen me would have lost his mind for a "Learn to draw Manga" game for the uDraw. And then there's the potential for PSN and PS Mini titles - digital versions of games like Operation, Tic-Tac-Toe and Sudoku could have been competent additions to the uDraw arsenal.

To sum this whole review up, the uDraw is a missed opportunity. I honestly don't know what caused THQ's executive team to gear this thing to children, because kids don't give a fuck about stuff like this. Kids want to play Mario and Call of Duty. They don't want edutainment. If they want colouring books, the real thing is much cheaper. This is a great (although flawed) technology that could have been used for something much better, and I really wanna smack the people responsible for this right upside the head. Not because it's a bad product, because its not, it's really good - but because it looks more like a focus-tested, upper-management hodgepodge of "this is what the kids want" than the art simulator it could have been.

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I give the uDraw and its pack-in game a solid 7.5/10. Great idea, mediocre execution.

PS, here's another one of my masterpieces.

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