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The box for the first game in the series.
Nintendo was having a roaring success selling the Nintendo DS to people who weren't really video gamers thanks to the success of titles like Brain Age and Nintendogs. One of the people who had been attracted to the system and its capabilities was British artist Tancred Dyke Wells who noticed that the system's touch screen could be used as an artist's canvas very easily and then decided that, naturally, the top screen could be used for tutorials. Thus, with the help of British Studio Headstrong Games, he developed Art Academy which Nintendo agreed to publish as a casual game.
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The first game in the series Art Academy: First Semester released to DSI Ware on September 14, 2009 in North America and December 25, 2009 in Europe. The follow-up Art Academy: Second Semester released on September 28, 2009 in North America and January 8, 2010 in Europe. The two games combined featured a total of 10 art lessons (four in the first and six in the second). The games also has a free paint mode which gave the player a blank canvas and the ability to use all available tools at once. Both games would get a full physical retail release in Japan on June 19, 2010, in Europe on August 6, 2010, in Australia on September 23, 2010, and in North America on October 25, 2010 simply called Art Academy.

The game was followed up with a few sequels Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone! (entitled New Art Academy in Europe and Australia) was released for Nintendo 3DS on July 28, 2012 in Europe, August 23, 2012 in Australia, and October 1, 2012 in North America. This game included a full 3D gallery for players to display their artwork and introduced colored pencils and oil pastels.

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On August 9, 2013 the series made its way to home console for the first time with Art Academy: SketchPad releasing on Wii U. This entry was only an app with no lessons included and only the Free Paint Mode in place. The Wii U would get a full version on June 25, 2015 with the release of Art Academy: Home Studio (called Art Academy: Atelier in Europe and Australia) which included several new lessons along with adding a charcoal tool for drawing.

The series got two crossovers as well. On June 19, 2014, in Europe on July 4, 2014, in Australia, and in North America on October 24, 2014, Pokémon Art Academy would release on 3DS. Then, on May 13, 2016 in North America, July 15, 2016 in Europe, and July 16, 2016 in Australia, Disney Art Academy would release which included lessons for drawing various Disney and Pixar characters.

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Vince would appear as an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.


Tropes featured in the series:

  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Starting with Home Studio there is an undo button now included, but only to undo the previous mark.
    • Pokémon Art Academy expanded the undo option to now allow the player to undo anything done to the image going all the way back.
    • Pokémon Art Academy also introduced the Outline Pen which leaves very dark marks that will always show over anything else placed on the image.
    • Disney Art Academy introduced image layers that the player could work on separately.
  • Casual Video Game: Nintendo sold the game as part of their Touch Generations Series.
  • Crossover: Pokémon Art Academy is a crossover with that franchise and Disney Art Academy includes crossovers with both Disney as well as Pixar.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Vince can be this during the lessons with some of the remarks he makes.
  • Edutainment Game: The series is designed to teach the player various art techniques for both drawing and painting.
  • Excuse Plot: The two spinoff games have only a loose plot. In Pokémon Art Academy the player has just enrolled at an art school and wants to learn how to draw Pokémon. In Disney Art Academy the player is on vacation at a tropical island and has to learn how to draw characters for an upcoming art festival.
  • Mythology Gag: In Pokémon Art Academy the player can frame their drawings with frames that resemble the official Pokémon Trading Cards, and the lessons use the backgrounds from actual real-life cards.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: The three main games in the series have no plot to speak of at all. Pokémon Art Academy and Disney Art Academy do have a plot as a part of their Lessons Mode but only a minimal one.
  • Product Placement: The Pokémon Cards in Pokémon Art Academy.
  • Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle: The first game has the full title Art Academy: Learn painting and drawing techniques with step-by-step training in PAL regions. Averted by Lessons for Everyone! which is called New Art Academy in PAL, and Home Studio which has the title Art Academy: Atelier in PAL.
  • Tech Demo Game: Artist Tancred Dyke Wells developed this game with the help of Headstrong games because he thought the DS touch screen would be great for a drawing utility and he decided to wrap it with lessons that would run on the top screen.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay:
    • Notably the first two games don't include an undo button as, much like working on real art, mistakes can't exactly be undone instantly.
    • Once you are done in drawing mode and switch to painting mode, you cannot switch back to drawing mode as, once again much like making real art, it would not be easy to draw any more new pencil marks.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: Free Paint Mode gives the player a blank canvas and allows the immediate access to all of the tools the game includes. The Wii U's SketchPad has only the sandbox mode.
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