I've long subscribed to the theory that a video game peripheral is only as good as the software that supports it. But in the case of THQ's uDraw GameTablet, the potential uses for the device far outweigh a limited, yet entertaining, launch lineup.
The uDraw, itself, has been around for a while, having first arrived as a Wii exclusive in 2010. In bringing the technology to high-definition consoles, THQ gave the GameTablet a serious makeover that emphasizes style and performance.
The unit looks and feels great, its sleek form and all-black color scheme blending in perfectly with my Xbox 360 Slim. The GameTablet's construction is solid without feeling bulky, and the grooves underneath the unit make it easy to hold on to while still offering easy access to the directional pad and face buttons. The pressure-sensitive stylus is tethered to the top of the unit, resting just above the touch screen drawing area. The Tablet also features tilt and motion controls.
The GameTablet comes packaged with "uDraw Studio Instant Artist," a suite of various art activities and fun games that really showcase what the device can do. Whether you want to waste time by doodling on a virtual sketch pad or learn about the fundamentals of art through a series of easy-to-understand tutorials, "Instant Artist" offers something for all ages.
Navigating the various menus within "Instant Artist" took some getting used to as there are a ton of different options available for picking your colors and tools. But once I became acquainted with layout, it was simply a matter of letting my creativity take over.
I was impressed by how accurate the GameTablet's stylus and touch pad were in capturing my movements. While rapid scribbles were sometimes missed, the GameTablet did a fantastic job of keeping up with my strokes. I also liked being able to use the touch screen to pinch and zoom in as I was creating.
"Instant Artist" offers countless hours of game play on its own, but THQ has also released two additional titles for uDraw - "Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat" and "Pictionary: Ultimate Edition." Both games make excellent use of the GameTablet's full range of capabilities, though some camera issues hamper the overall experience in "Comic Combat." Despite this, my two boys enjoyed playing through "Super Hero Squad," and "Pictionary" has quickly become a staple of our family game night.
There's no denying the appeal of uDraw to younger gamers and families - the original Wii version has shipped nearly two million units worldwide. But for the device to reach its full potential, I believe THQ will need to incorporate the uDraw into more mainstream games. Whether it's including GameTablet functionality in THQ's own titles (imagine using the Tablet to create logos and designs for "WWE 12" and "Saints Row: The Third") or opening up the device to third-party publishers (who wouldn't want to use the Tablet to draw up plays in "Madden"?), the possibilities are endless.