Like all of the finest pieces of fresh gaming technology that have emerged over the past few years – and make no mistake, there have been plenty of those – uDraw can’t be fully understood until you’ve managed to actually get your own mitts on it. From the sidelines it looks like something familiar and easy to understand, and for the most part, it is. It’s a drawing tablet that is compatible with the Nintendo Wii. That would normally be enough to give people a perspective on whether or not they were going to invest in it, but it is so, so much more robust and comprehensive than anyone could’ve possibly been expecting, that further investigation is more-or-less essential.
Because even if uDraw had been built with the other two home consoles in mind, with their high definition visuals and higher technical specifications, you can’t imagine that the results would be any more impressive than they are here. uDraw goes out of its way to ensure that nobody is intimidated by it, and aside from a trigger button that has been built into the nib of the attached stylus, the only command buttons on the unit are those that are already built onto the standard Nintendo Wii remote, and already familiar to all.
The uDraw tablet comes bundled with uDraw Studio, which is a marvelous piece of software that’s every bit as impressive as the hardware itself. In addition to being able to select your utensil of choice from an extensive list, you’re also able to select what canvasses and surface texture you want to work on, and after you’re done you can watch a replay video of yourself creating your masterpiece from scratch, at up to x8 the original speed. You can also save your work on an SD card and then, if you wish, you can print it out on computer. It appears to be an extraordinarily extensive art studio program, and if you want to see just how incredible it is, simply jump straight to the embedded video below, which shows prominent New York artist David Kassan painting a portrait with it.
The unit is also going to launch alongside a handful of similarly impressive game titles, one of which is destined to be an absolute, hands-down must buy. Although most people would agree that the classic board game Pictionary didn’t need to be toyed with, seeing the upcoming uDraw-compatible version of it in action makes you wonder if there is any better way to experience it. Aside from just being as thoroughly amusing as ever – and at the preview event that we attended, an ever-present queue of onlookers were perpetually desperate to get a go – it also makes a few modifications that all work in service of its stature as one of the finest party games of all time.
‘No Peeking’ makes you pen your picture whilst looking away from the uDraw tablet; ‘Rotation Frustration’ makes your drawing surface slowly spin around as you draw; ‘Shape It Up’ tasks you with crafting your picture using only a selction of pre-set shapes; and ‘Off Hand’ asks you to work with your least favourite hand. You’re also able to choose your own time limit for each turn (a blessing for games involving all of the family) and although board game remixes usually end up diluting the experience when they add as many new aspects as uDraw Pictionary has done, trust us, it appears that THQ have done the impossible and made the game of Pictionary even more absurdly entertaining than it already was.
Hands-on time with another launch title – a 2-D platform game called Dood’s Big Adventure – showed a game that looks very promising too, cribbing the odd idea from the likes of the (superb) Nintendo DS game Kirby: Canvas Curse, but managing to maintain a goofy personality of its own; and in its own right, it’s a very effective emblem of precisely what the uDraw unit is capable of. THQ’s tablet – along with its launch software – is due for release some time in the very early part of 2011, and it’s looking like something thoroughly unique and really rather special.
Watch the amazing David Kassan uDraw video here: