Some people are born with artistic talent. I was not. Howe ver, that didn’t stop me being interested in Comic Workshop, a new piece of software on the Nintendo 3DS eshop. The title tells you most of what you need to know: this is something that will let you draw comics on your 3DS. If that idea isn’t something that appeals to you, then you’re not going to want to buy this game. For those who have been waiting to draw comics on the 3DS rather than, say, with pen and paper, it’ll be good to know that Comic Workshop does its specified function very well.
When starting up Comic Workshop you’re given three choices: hand calibration (surely a welcome addition for artistically-minded lefties), a tutorial, and the main drawing mode. On the main drawing mode you are first given a storyboard, wherein you can choose from different comic templates to start working on, ranging from blank pages to ones with a variety of ready-made panels on them.
The drawing on this storyboard mode is simple, providing you with a pencil, line drawer, copy/cut and paste tool and an eraser, with you being limited to drawing in black ink. Once you are happy with the storyboard you move onto clean copy mode, where you can colour in your work, touch up frames and add backgrounds.
The range of options in this title is very good, meaning that you’ll rarely find your creativity limited by not being able to draw in the right size or right colour. All the action necessarily takes place on the touch screen (this being a piece of drawing software, and all), but the menus do a good job of being intuitive in not getting in the way. You just slide them down from the top when adjusting something, like the opacity of the pencil or selecting the fill tool, and then slide them back up out of the way of the canvas when you go back to drawing.
The best feature is the much-used (for me at least) undo feature – Comic Workshop allows you to go back many actions (the number varies depending upon which mode you’re in) so that you’ll be able to undo even the most terrible of mistakes.
Zooming in and out on the canvas is done with R and L, which works well, but there is a lot of zooming required due to the 3DS’s small screen. This is in fact one of the main drawbacks of trying to make comics on the 3DS, and one can’t help but feel it’d be better to stick to drawing on paper or on a PC – though this is rather a problem with the 3DS rather than being any fault of the software.
Another issue is the limitations on sharing your creations. The only option is to go through the process of transferring your comics onto the SD card and then transferring them to the computer to show people from there – something a lot more streamlined, such as the ability to directly upload your comics onto a Comic Workshop server or maybe straight onto social networking sites, would have been appreciated.
Something else that is likely to put off many potential creators is the massive amount of time and patience required to actually get good at using the software – it’s not really a matter of booting it up and immediately being able to make use of all the features. This is where the 28 tutorials come in handy, as they do provide a comprehensive guide to everything that Comic Workshop allows you to do – but going through them all can be quite tedious if you just want to get straight into drawing.
Also annoying is that the tutorials suffer from some seriously dodgy translations, which are able most of the time to get their point across but can be quite jarring. For example, “The same way it worked with the Color, touching a Tab will offers you the possibility to select another option”. It seems a waste that when releasing the game in the west it clearly wasn’t considered worthwhile to shell out a few extra bob to get the translation job done properly.There are 8 choices of background music in Comic Workshop which you can switch between at any time. All of them are very relaxing and appropriate for sitting down and having a little drawing time. They also do a good job of not becoming too annoying after prolonged listening, which is just as well given how long the drawing process takes.
While Comic Workshop is good at what it does, one can’t help but feel there’s not really a need for it. If you own any other device with a larger screen and which can handle more complex software, then that’s what you should be making comics on. Comic Workshop is worth getting if you absolutely feel the need to have some comic creation capability on your 3DS, but the limitations of the system make it unlikely that you’ll be drawing a masterpiece with it.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo 3DS code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.