Disney Animation Artist: Mickey & Friends

Game review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Disney Animation Artist: Mickey & Friends Game Poster Image
Cool animation teaching, but kids' art gets lost in shuffle.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to draw some of their favorite Disney characters, such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy. They can also learn how to break down the parts of an object in order to draw it more easily. Disney Animation Artist shows kids how to use multiple pictures to create an animation and encourages them to think about the emotion in the picture to impact how they approach the drawing.

Positive Messages

The app is supportive and encouraging throughout the experience.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kids don't have the opportunity to interact with characters, but the drawings show characters playing sports and smiling.

Ease of Play

The game provides clear instructions, but it can be difficult to trace the lines exactly on the screen. There is no opportunity to edit your work. The game includes two difficulty levels, with the advanced level having additional drawing tips and information.

Violence & Scariness
Language
Consumerism

The game is based on popular Disney characters who have other products available, from clothes to food to toys.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Disney Animation Artist: Mickey & Friends is a downloadable app for the LeapFrog LeapPad that instructs kids in drawing, but doesn't use their actual artwork in the final coloring stage. The animation stage uses some of the child's drawings, but blends them with professional drawings.

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What's it about?

DISNEY ANIMATION ARTIST: MICKEY & FRIENDS invites kids to draw popular Disney characters such as Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck. The game leads kids through each drawing one line at a time. Kids trace the lines from a green dot to a red dot, in a similar manner to other LeapFrog games like Mr. Pencil. Once the line drawing is complete, kids press a button and the image \"magically\" transforms into a perfect version. They can then color in the image.

The second portion of the game has kids animating a character by drawing multiple images with slight changes from one to another. The final animation incorporates some of the kid's drawings and some of the perfect drawings supplied by the program. The game includes two different levels. It's difficult to tell the difference between them, although the advanced level seems to have additional drawing tips and information.

Is it any good?

Disney Animation Artist: Mickey & Friends is a cool idea. Learning to draw such popular characters can be empowering and exciting for kids. It can also help them understand that a complete drawing is just a collection of lines and shapes. Unfortunately, the game doesn't live up to the potential. The first issue is that once you've drawn a line/shape, it's there. You can't erase or change it. If you make a mistake, you have to build on the mistake for the rest of the image. But even if you create something that feels like a masterpiece, the game will replace it entirely with the stock image before the coloring stage. It can be frustrating and demoralizing, especially for older kids.

The animation section does retain some of the child's work, but it's not for those who like immediate gratification. It has the same drawing challenges in terms of the lack of editing tools. And kids will have to work on numerous images required for animation. If you have a child who is old enough to be able to follow the directions, but young enough to not care that their drawing is being replaced, this could be a hit. It may even inspire them to create more artwork offline. Otherwise, your budding artist may just end up frustrated and annoyed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how animation works. What other things can you animate?

  • They can also discuss the role of tech toys in their lives. What kinds of rules do you need to manage these kind of tech toys?

  • This game teaches you how to break a bigger picture down into smaller steps. Are there other times when it's easier to break a task down? Would this make it easier to clean your room? Do your homework?

Game details

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For kids who love being creative

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