Review: Pokémon Art Academy (Nintendo 3DS)

Pokémon Art Academy: Official GBAtemp Review

Nintendo 3DS 5,806 views 5 likes 28 comments
Reviewed by Brandon Boui, posted Oct 30, 2014
Oct 30, 2014
  • Release Date (NA): October 24, 2014
  • Release Date (EU): July 4, 2014
  • Release Date (JP): June 19, 2014
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Headstrong Games
  • Genres: Drawing
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone
  • PEGI Rating: Three years and older
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Pokémon Art Academy for the Nintendo 3DS is a spinoff of the Pokémon franchise, allowing the player to draw critters from the popular franchise in their own imagining.
Brandon Boui

Pokémon Art Academy for Nintendo 3DS (NA)

"Hello everyone, this is Vincent van Gogh, reporting live in front of the Pokémon Art Acad-", scratch that, I'm definitely not a Vincent van Gogh. Pokémon Art Academy, for the Nintendo 3DS, is a spin off of the main franchise, and is a drawing game that allows the player to draw select critters. The player is guided through a series of lessons and is slowly taught how to draw and be an art master. So, if being a Pokémon master was too difficult and time consuming, with those 700+ creatures, you can instead become an artist, which takes far less time. 

The title opens up with you and your partner Lily arriving at the Art Academy, where you are greeted by Professor Inky, who becomes your mentor in drawing Pokémon through a series of lessons that are given ranks - you start out as a Novice, then move into a Apprentice, and then a Graduate. Each rank consists of several lessons that one needs to complete, followed by an "exam" in which the lesson's techniques are applied to draw a Pikachu in various poses and techniques. The player also has the chance to participate in extended lessons, which uses the same techniques of the lesson but on different Pokémon. The main question at hand is whether or not the game will make you a master of art, or was the game instead just a fun minigame that can pass time.

The answer here is that the title is a little bit of both. The main thing I got out of the title was that it piqued my interest in art, which was definitely Nintendo's goal this title. Think of it like those wood workshop activities that one could find at a hardware store for a young child to participate in. It uses basic techniques and the touch screen to emulate performing these acts. What this game will not provide you with is the means to suddenly become a lucrative artist, but it will definitely give you a bit of foundation to work with in your endeavors. Real and aspiring artists should go to their local art supplies store, where you can spend, for the price of this game at $29.95, and buy yourself a decent set of art materials. The game has its good and bad moments though, and at the price the game is, it's not an entirely wasteful purchase for some good clean fun. 


This game is a decent little game. It's $29.95, less than the average retail price of a regular 3DS game, but it's also a lot shorter. Going from the first paint session to the Graduate level takes a few hours, but the game has tons of other avenues to explore once finished, such as the free paint section which lets you go about your business and paint to your heart's content. The music is quirky, yet at the same time it's repetitive. You will hear that same warble for each one of the lessons, and I do admit that it got a little bit old towards the graduate level courses. The partner is also a great source of comic relief, as she displays her art at the end of each section - her art, which she thinks is absolutely wonderful, often looks comically terrible. It's great. The game will also give you a lot of different paint tools that are easily managed using the different buttons of the 3DS; the touch screen has the major bulk of the things you need to utilize though. The slide pad is used to zoom about and control the area in which you are focusing on, the shoulder buttons are to essentially undo your last action. It feels like a more sophisticated Microsoft Paint. You are given a lot of color choices to operate with depending on your Pokémon subject. 

One of my main concerns is the pacing of this game. Having only four ranks to complete can lead to a relatively jarring pacing, as the game basically will hold your hand in the first three ranks, and in the Graduate course, it essentially will just throw you out in the wild. The hand holding is dropped as you eventually have to start drawing your own outlines and features. The game starts you out incredibly easy - the outlines are there for you, and you see Professor Inky guiding you with his actions and his Eight Art Rules. You learn the very raw basics, like drawing shapes, and coloring first, and then move on to more sophisticated techniques such as shading, highlighting, and special effects. The Pokémon even start really easy, starting with the face, then a body, then doing poses, then going into special effects. For me, one of the main drawing highlights was the Charizard drawing of the Graduate course. I left my Charizard image below, and did I screw up massively on it? Yes I darn well did, but I actually like it because it has a hilarious quirkiness to it, like it was the result of inbreeding or something, more on that on another day! The game's pacing though is just a bit off, as you go from doing a loose interpretation of a Pikachu to a fully drawn, shaded, flame-spitting Charizard. The timing of each lesson is crazy too, as the regular lessons took only like ten minutes apiece, but the Graduate ones took almost triple that, and my results didn't even come close to perfection! Just look at my Jirachi, who comically looks like he's on some kind of drugs!

My best suggestion if you want to really make the best of this title? I would highly suggest doing each lesson, and then doing the unlocked bonus levels within that same rank to make sure you become a master of the techniques, because like I said above, the pacing goes relatively quickly, and I regret not spending as much time in some of the earlier sections as I should have. It definitely does becomes a lot easier to recall each technique and replicate it when doing the Free Paint mode after extended practice. I absolutely loved Free Paint, as it let me make some hilarious Pokémon, often with distorted features or comedic poses. I started to develop a routine, as the game's story mode will show you - draw a good outline, and take your time on this! Patience is key - don't rush on it. The outline is definitely the best way to get a good feel for what you are drawing, and it also can leave room to add some fun special effects or modifications in the later portions of the drawing, after you've added the color and shading. Don't end up like my Charizard and mess up on that outline! Look at him, isn't he wonderful?

Overall, I enjoyed this title. It was some good clean fun, with some moments of frustration trying to be accurate, but after a bit, I just let it all go and decided to have some fun with it. The game is again $29.99, and if you really have an interest in art after you play this game, go pick up a good art set at an art store! And you know, if you become good and all, put me as a contributor so that I can share in the glory with you! All the pictures posted were drawn by yours truly, and the review copy provided by Nintendo. Again, GBAtemp would like to thank Nintendo for the providing of the copy. 

+ Good, clean fun
+ Music is memorable
+ The partner's drawings are hilarious to look at
+ Lots of Pokémon to draw
- Pacing is jarring and difficulty jumps significantly
- Touch screen can be a bit inaccurate at times
- Price is relatively expensive for a short game
8 Presentation
The game is extremely easy to navigate and work with. Everything is neat and orderly, and the game has good dialogue to add some light humor. The partner's art is absolutely terrible to look at and it definitely got a few laughs to compare mine with.
7 Gameplay
It's a lot of the same old thing, with newer techniques and more to do as the game goes on. Its pacing is a bit broken and I wish this game had more ranks to go through, instead of cramming it in a few small ranks.
7 Lasting Appeal
Free mode is by far the best place to test yourself, and the ability to add some comedic effects makes it for a more fun and interesting experience.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Overall, I enjoyed this title. It was some good clean fun, with some moments of frustration trying to be accurate, but after a bit, I just let it all go and decided to have some fun with it. The game is again $29.99, and if you really have an interest in art after you play this game, go pick up a good art set at an art store!
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