uDraw GameTablet First Impressions

We inspect THQ's newly unveiled graphics tablet Wii peripheral.

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THQ is prepping its uDraw GameTablet, a graphics tablet Wii peripheral, for a "holiday 2010" release in North America and an early 2011 launch elsewhere. We were shown a near-final prototype of the device: a white, 9-by-7 inch pad that is an inch and a half deep into which the Wii controller (minus MotionPlus add-on) slots in on the left side. On the right is the blue-bordered drawing area, rather smaller than the full area of the tablet (6-by-4 inches) but allowing one-to-one correlation, we're told, between the movement of the stylus and what appears onscreen. The stylus handles well, though this isn't the pinpoint accuracy of a professional graphics tablet--it's got a chunkier, toylike feel and gives results accordingly.

THQ's uDraw GameTablet with embedded Wii controller.
THQ's uDraw GameTablet with embedded Wii controller.

The tablet is wireless, drawing power from the Wii Remote's batteries. THQ says this reduces the life of the batteries in a controller from about 17 to about 15 hours. The chunky white stylus, tethered to the tablet, has two buttons and a pressure-sensitive nib that enables the thickness of a pen stroke to be varied, for instance, though the stylus can also be operated by holding it close to, rather than directly on, the surface of the drawing area. The Wii Remote's buttons are accessible in front and behind the tablet, leaving them free for use in games compatible with the device.

The uDraw GameTablet will come bundled with uDraw Studio, a feature-rich painting package. It has options to choose colour, brush (or charcoal, chalk, and so on), medium (canvas, paper, and the like), and environment, such as studio or sidewalk, along with opacity and type of brush fadeout effect. There are filtering effects such as blur and solarize, as well as a drawing rewind/replay mode. The environment of choice determines the music you'll draw along to, and zooming out reveals your canvas stood against, say, a backdrop of an artist's studio. Images created with the uDraw tablet can be exported onto an SD card for sharing elsewhere.

The games available at launch for the uDraw tablet will be Mattel-licensed Pictionary, playable in a classic or board game-like challenge mode, as well as Pictionary Mania. Dood's Big Adventure, a side-scrolling 2.5D platformer whose titular hero's skin can be customised via drawing on the tablet, will also be available. Background items and decals can be similarly customised. The action itself makes various uses of the tablet as a controller. Trampolines can be drawn beneath the player character to bounce him higher, and the tablet can be tilted to roll him around in a bubble, reminiscent of the iPhone/iPad's Super Monkey Ball. THQ intends to roll out further uDraw-compatible packages and games every three months or so.

There's no word on the all-important pricing yet, but the basic bundle of the GameTablet and Studio paint package will be out before Christmas in North America, along with the Pictionary and Dood's Big Adventure launch titles.

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