VSmile Art Studio

Game review by
Jinny Gudmundsen, Common Sense Media
VSmile Art Studio Game Poster Image
VSmile fans may be drawn to this art software.

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

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this software requires the VSmile TV Learning System to play. Using the stylus can be difficult: Kids have to push down on the stylus to make the head retract, and then they must continue to hold it down while drawing. This can be very challenging for kids younger than 5, and difficult for those ages 5 to 8. It does teach kids a wide variety of skills, from tracing and color mixing to some animation basics.

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What's it about?

With VSMILE ART STUDIO, kids can draw on a touch-sensitive surface to create artwork that's displayed on the television screen. The VSmile Art Studio is an add-on to the VSmile TV Learning System and comes with a rectangular art surface. Kids can use their imaginations to free-draw pictures that appear on the television screen.

Kids use the Art Studio's attached stylus to draw on the touch-sensitive surface and to open menus for access to the digital art tools. The art tools include colored pencils, pre-made geometric shapes, stamps, animated objects, backdrops, and color-filling tools. Kids can save up to five pictures and showcase them in a slideshow.

Is it any good?

In addition to open-ended play, the software offers 11 interactive art lessons and activities. Kids practice fine-motor skills by tracing gray lines to create shapes, learn how to click and drag geometric shapes to create pictures, and play video games that require them to draw. Also good is a color-mixing activity that teaches kids how to make secondary colors by mixing the primary colors of red, blue, yellow, and white.

The stylus is sometimes unresponsive, requiring multiple attempts to make it react correctly, and testers were frustrated by the unit's inconsistent acceptance of their tracing. Because the stylus requires dexterity and patience, the VSmile Art Studio isn't a good fit for children younger than 5. If you don't already own the required system, this game doesn't make it worth investing in it. But if you do, this digital art desk will provide your kids with plenty of activities to explore.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how different it is to draw on the Art Studio instead of a piece of paper. They might want to discuss what it's like to see your artwork up on the TV screen. Parents may want to ask kids what they learned from this software. Which activity did you find the most educational -- or fun?

Game details

  • Platforms: VSmile
  • Price: $29.95
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: VTech Electronics
  • Release date: May 4, 2006
  • Genre: Art
  • ESRB rating: E

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