Checking out THQ’s uDraw GameTablet and games

When THQ first announced uDraw, I was pretty skeptical. All I could think was, “There’s no way this can be as good as a Wacom or any other drawing tablet out there.” Well, after playing around with the uDraw GameTablet, my tune has definitely changed.

The tablet works great and holds its own with other brands of tablets. Best of all, THQ isn’t just going to introduce a peripheral and abandon it a few months later (Konami’s Rock Revolution and Sega’s Samba De Amigo maracas come to mind). Three games will be available at launch and more are in the works for next year. Read on below to see what you can expect from THQ’s new peripheral.

When THQ first announced uDraw, I was pretty skeptical. All I could think was, “There’s no way this can be as good as a Wacom or any other drawing tablet out there.” Well, after playing around with the uDraw GameTablet, my tune has definitely changed.

The tablet works great and holds its own with other brands of tablets. Best of all, THQ isn’t just going to introduce a peripheral and abandon it a few months later (Konami’s Rock Revolution and Sega’s Samba De Amigo maracas come to mind). Three games will be available at launch and more are in the works for next year. Read on below to see what you can expect from THQ’s new peripheral.

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uDraw GameTablet, uDraw Studios, Dood’s Big Adventure, Pictionary (Wii)
Developers: THQ, Pipeworks Software, THQ Digital Phoenix, Page 44 Studios
Publisher: THQ
To be released: November 14, 2010

First up, let’s take a look at the tablet itself. The Wiimote is inserted to the left of the tablet’s 4×6 drawing space. There’s a  at the top to store the pen and a little storage spot on the back to hide the Wiimote strap. The pen is pressure-sensitive and has two buttons that mimic the C and Z buttons from the Nunchuk.

I was really surprised just how light the tablet is. The design is also pretty clever in that you can still use the Wiimote in whatever game you’re playing. For uDraw Studio, you’ll be able to use some of the buttons for quicker access to the tools at your disposal.

I can say a ton about Studio: that it can match what you can do on the computer; that it’s simple, responsive and easy to use. However, I’ll just let this video speak for Studios potential.

So yeah, you can do a lot with the tablet. The big question probably running through your mind, then, is why would you want a tablet for the Wii when you can do the same thing on the computer? Well aside from how ridiculously cheap uDraw is going to be ($69.99 for the tablet and game), it’s a great first step for kids who want to get into art. uDraw is user-friendly and cheap, and hey, if you already own a tablet computer but are too afraid that your kids would break it, then uDraw is a great alternative.

For the first time ever, third-party developers have a lot more freedom when it comes to what they can do with the SD cards on the Wii. You’ll be able to save the drawings you create onto an SD card in JPEG or PNG format and transfer those images to a computer. This type of access comes from a close relationship with Nintendo — the company sees the tablet being a big thing. They even helped THQ shape the tablet with a few suggestions, such as the addition of grips underneath the device.

THQ also brought along two other games, Dood’s Big Adventure and Pictionary, for us to check out. In Dood’s Big Adventure, players take the main character, Dood, through 60 levels broken up into four game modes.

Before jumping into a game, players will first get to design Dood’s appearance by applying different colors and designs. You can also customize enemies and the environment in the same way.

Each of the four game modes will have you control Dood in a variety of ways. In “Pen Panic,” you’ll need to draw lines that act as trampolines, sort of in the same vein as Kirby’s Canvas Curse. With “Roly Poly,” you’ll be rolling Dood around using the motion controls of the Wiimote by tilting the tablet. In “Bubble Trouble,” players use the stylus to guide Dood through the level, avoiding obstacles. And in “Fan Frenzy,” Dood is now a balloon that players guide around with the stylus.

The game is charming, but it didn’t really appeal to me. My little cousins, however, will probably adore it. It has that kid’s cartoon vibe — like, say, SpongeBob SquarePants — that kids eat up.

Pictionary is, well, Pictionary. People will take turns guessing what others are drawing for points. There are new modes included though in the “Mania” section of the game. It’s still Pictionary, but with a crazy rule thrown in, such as drawing without looking at the screen or using your non-drawing hand to create an image.

Both Pictionary and Dood’s Big Adventure will go for $29.99. Purchasing all three games plus the tablet will cost the same as two $60 PS3/360 games — not a bad deal at all. With the promise of more games and the cheap prices they’ll be offered for, it’s plain to see that THQ has a hot item for this holiday season.

Hamza Aziz