A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Disney Art Academy -- a joint effort between Disney and Nintendo -- encourages kids to draw their favorite Disney and Pixar characters or draw whatever they like in Free Paint mode. There aren't protagonists in the game, but players are tasked with drawing characters in a loose story mode. There isn't any inappropriate content parents needs to worry about, but players will be exposed to multiple characters that have vast merchandising.
What's it about?
DISNEY ART ACADEMY is a Nintendo 3DS drawing program that challenges kids to draw more than 80 Disney and Pixar characters, such as Elsa and Olaf from Frozen, Mickey Mouse, Woody from Toy Story, Nemo, Cinderella, and others. Using the stylus pen on the touchscreen, kids will go through a (loose) story, get advice and lessons from animated helpers, and play around with various drawing tools (brushes, markers, pencils, pens, spray-paint cans), colors, effects, and add-ons (such as glitter and clouds). The game also has a Free Paint mode that lets you create characters without any tutorials -- yep, the training wheels are off for this mode. Artwork can be shared to Miiverse, on social media, or via local wireless or saved to the SD card, so you can pop it into a personal computer to see on a larger display or print out your creations.
Is it any good?
This is less of a game and more of a drawing tool to help young artists develop their skills. Ideal for kids who love animated Disney and Pixar films and TV shows, this clever Nintendo 3DS is easy to pick up but hard to put down, and it's a great learning tool. It offers more depth than you might think. Sure, you can start out as a beginner artist (focusing on shapes and coloring), but you progress through more advanced art lessons, including tips on shading, using different brushes and other tools, drawing character expressions to evoke joy, surprise, and more. Little ones will likely spend time with Magic Brush, which gives your art some flair with stars, clouds, glitter, and more. Villain design is fun, so don't expect only heroes in this game.
It's too bad most of the cut scenes are static images, like in a comic book, as younger players would love being rewarded with a short animated clip of the character they just completed (or, if it's possible, even seeing your creation animate). Because you get many characters to draw, a variety of tools to work with, and a couple of ways to play (including the tougher Free Paint mode), Disney Art Academy is great for budding artists and Disney fans alike.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about marketing to kids. Is this game a great gift for kids because it's constructive rather than destructive? Is this a marketing tool by Disney to further market their mascots, movies, TV shows, and other merchandise to impressionable kids?
Talk about art as a hobby. What would be some good ways to continue to develop your skills outside the game?
Discuss appreciation of art. What types of art styles do you enjoy most? Why do you like certain styles over others?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Language & Reading: following directions
Arts: drawing, painting
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information
Creativity: imagination, making new creations, producing new content
Self-Direction: achieving goals, work to achieve goals
Tech Skills: digital creation, social media, using and applying technology
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo of America
- Release date: May 13, 2016
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Brothers and Sisters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Ocean Creatures
- ESRB rating: E
- Last updated: December 17, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.