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Paint By DS

Thanks to games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero, video games about emulating a certain art form have become increasingly popular in both the hardcore and casual gaming markets. Companies are cashing in on this phenomenon left and right, each trying to capture a slice of the demographic that hasn’t been cornered yet – games about crayons, crossword puzzles, and even guitar practice have made their way onto the DS. Paint By DS is the most extreme example of this kind of customer fishing so far; it goes beyond casual. Think decrepit Grandma Millie casual. While this is hardly a bad thing, it’s a shame that Paint By DS is so precisely aimed at non-gamers. What’s even more of a shame, though, is the quality. The idea of the game is to copy famous paintings using the touch screen. While this is a perfectly sound idea, the execution borderlines on horrendous.

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Paint By DS has 15 paintings for you to copy, using pencils, oil paint, or watercolors. The functionality of the palette is appreciated; the game displays the original painting on the top screen, and a blueprint of sorts on the bottom. Colors can be applied with a few different brushes (or pencil nibs), and they mix fairly well, considering the DS’s tiny screen. The actual mechanics for painting are great, and copying the provided paintings should prove fairly easy after a bit of mucking around. In fact, the gameplay itself is perfectly fine, even impressive – the problem lies within the DS itself. The paintings provided are extremely detailed, and it’s virtually impossible to set in every last detail of a painting on a 2.5″ touchscreen, especially with the nubby stylus. The paintings provided are certainly famous, but they’re not exactly appealing, especially for a video game. Which painting would you like to copy today, “Apples” or “Birds”? How about some Van Gogh? Nailing the details on these pictures is nigh impossible, and the paintings themselves are so worn out and uninteresting that it feels like a chore.

“Go ahead, draw KITT from Knight Rider instead of the bridge over the water; Paint By DS will call it “a veritable rainbow of colors.””The worst part, however, is the scoring system. Yes, this game has the gall to grade your finished 2.5″ facsimiles. Much like Guitar Hero if it featured a paint brush, Paint By DS has a five-star rating system, as well as input on your color use. If you find that last bit confusing, join the club; the description of the colors in your painting seem to be entirely random. The comment that my painting “looked like a beautiful night scene” was all well and good, except that I had painted apples using only bright green, yellow, and red. Go ahead, draw KITT from Knight Rider instead of the bridge over the water; Paint By DS will call it “a veritable rainbow of colors.” The star rating, however, is what kills the game. It seems to be absolutely impossible to get a rating higher than one star; to break even half a star seems to require either luck or talent beyond any mortal man. As mentioned before, the DS touchscreen is just too small for painting tiny details, regardless of how far you zoom in or how carefully you try. Staying inside the lines provided is also a pain, since the paint has a tendency to spread just a few pixels too far, no matter how hard you try to keep the stylus steady. This cruel, cruel rating system will frustrate even the most patient wannabe painters. For a product clearly marketed towards the uninitiated, it sure is unfriendly.

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” It takes what little pride you have left and squishes it into a cold, lifeless .jpeg that is a poor representation of the original. Oh, the irony isn’t lost on us, Paint By DS.”The overall presentation is nearly as broken as the game itself. The menus have been translated poorly, with engrish phrases on nearly every screen. Awkward sentences aside, the game features an obnoxious and syrupy soundtrack. Personally, I would have expected some Vivaldi or Bach alongside my classic paintings, although after seeing how the rest of the presentation came out, it’s obvious the intent was to destroy every last hope harbored within the player’s soul. Paint By DS is an assault on the eyes, ears, and mind. The paintings provided for you to copy are poorly compressed, and the menus are dull and confusing. The worst part, though, is the quality of the saved paintings. If you grow attached to your .5-stars-out-of-five replica painting of a quail, you can save it to the gallery. The saving process, however, compresses the pictures to such a low resolution and fidelity that they’re barely recognizable. It takes what little pride you have left and squishes it into a cold, lifeless .jpeg that is a poor representation of the original. Oh, the irony isn’t lost on us, Paint By DS.

While it presents a few neat ideas, Paint By DS is disappointing on nearly every level. It’s dull, boring, and what’s more, absolutely heartless. Even players who like classical paintings will find Paint a cruel and unusual exercise in torturous rated gameplay. If only the drawing engine could have been used for something more interesting – and more to the point, better crafted – than Paint By DS.

3 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in October 2006.

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