Pictionary DS

Can you guess what it is yet?

Pictionary DS
21st December, 2010 By Ian Morris
Game Info // Pictionary
Pictionary Boxart
Publisher: THQ
Developer: THQ
Players (local wireless): 1 - 4
Subtitles: Full
Available On: DS

Pictionary's one of those games we've been waiting for for a while. Random games conversions of board games tend to go down a storm at Outcyders, and Pictionary, being one of our favourite board games, seemed to be begging for a DS conversion. After all, what would make better use of the touch screen than the frantic scribbling fun that is Pictionary?

Pictionary Screenshot

That's a much better drawing than we ever manage...

To begin with, let's get our main disappointment out of the way - Pictionary on the DS doesn't support single card download play, meaning if you want to play it with a group of people who all have their own DSs, you'll need to have a cartridge each. It's a bit of a downer that a game like Pictionary doesn't support single player download play, as it'd make things a lot easier for car/train/plane journeys, at times when it's not all that easy to crowd around a single console.

If you already own the board game version, you may be wondering what the point of buying the game again on the DS is - after all, how can the digital version be better than the physical one? While it can't match the fun of physically moving your pieces around a board, Pictionary DS does have a few points over its bigger, harder cousin - namely, it's size. If you go on holiday, and don't fancy lugging the giant Pictionary box around with you, just pop the cartridge in your pocket instead. Same game, much less space used.

The other advantage Pictionary on the DS has over the boxed version is the fact it's much easier to correct your mistakes. When it comes to drawing a clue, you've got a much more powerful selection of tools at your disposal, other than a standard pencil. Things can be easily rubbed out if you draw a line in the wrong place, you can switch between a pallet of colours, and there's even the ability to select a circle, square, triangle or diamond if you want to draw a quick shape.

Pictionary Screenshot

We're going to guess at a dragonfly. Kid's questions are a lot easier.

Interestingly, there is a single player mode in Pictionary DS, although if you have any friends, you'll probably want to avoid it. As you may expect, the single player mode's a limited experience, as you're reduced to simply guessing for the computer's drawings. It's frustrating, as it insists on you being entirely accurate in your guesses - and sometimes the drawings just aren't that good. But Pictionary was never designed to be a single player game, and in multiplayer, the game comes to life.

There are three basic forms of Pictionary on offer here - the first, Pictionary, is the Ronseal of the modes, as it does exactly what it says on the tin. Taking it in turns, and passing the DS around (so teams have to be sitting together), you'll have to make everyone look away, as you're given the option of choosing a kids, or adult's question to draw - and, brilliantly, if you think you've been given a stinker, you're given the option to ask for a new one (although the adults really should be banned from doing this!). When it comes to drawing, the category of the question you're drawing is displayed on the screen - for adults, this is the usual choice of Person/Place/Animal, Action, etc, while for children, they get given something a lot more specific. For example, for a clue of "North", the on screen category will be "Compass". We doubt many children will have much trouble guessing that.

If someone guesses correctly, all you have to do is tap the exclamation mark in the bottom corner of the screen, tell the game that you've got it right, and roll again! For the DS version, every quarter of the way around the board, and All Play square's been added, where everyone gets the chance to guess at a clue that one team's artist draws, with the team that guesses correctly first taking control of play. It's a nice touch, that at least gives the straggling teams a chance at getting a go.

Pictionary Screenshot

Or, alternatively, a Goth.

More interestingly, perhaps, is Pictionary Mania, a new version of Pictionary that puts even more pressure on the artist. On each turn, you'll be greeted with a new condition that you have to follow - whether it's only being able to draw using a continuous line, only being allowed to use straight lines, only being allowed to use the shape tool, or having to use your weaker hand (left if you're right handed, and vice versa), Pictionary Mania adds an extra, crazy element to your usual relaxing game of Pictionary - and while it's not necessarily better, it's certainly just as good.

The last, and least interesting mode in Pictionary DS is Pictionary Quiz, a mode where you're against the clock in a race to guess what the drawings are, Rolf Harris style. With three modes on offer - Marathon mode, where you race to guess 10, 20 or 30 answers correctly, Timed mode, where you answer as many as you can in a set time, and Streak mode, where you lose if you run out of time, or get a single drawing wrong, it may sound like a varied mode, but in actuality, it's a bit dull. Because you're required to guess what the drawing is exactly, there's absolutely no room to slip up, which turns this into nothing more than a frustration.

But, as we mentioned earlier, Pictionary was never meant to be played in single player - and it's with a good group of friends that Pictionary DS works the best. As part of THQ's Great Games, Great Value range, Pictionary is currently available for as little as £9.99 in the shops. If you don't have anyone to play this with, you should be giving it a miss, but if you've got a holiday coming up, and fancy something to play, this is well worth the investment - and if you don't have the board game, then get both.

With Pictionary also coming out on the Wii's uDraw Game tablet in early 2011 (a graphics tablet that effectively adds a giant touch screen to the Wii), you're not likely to be pushed for Pictionary fun over the next few months. We've played the Wii version - why not read our thoughts here.

Format Reviewed: Nintendo DS

StarStarStarHalf starEmpty star
Fun with friends.
  • +
    Same Pictionary fun, smaller form factor.
  • +
    Plenty of tools to choose from.
  • +
    Pass the console mode works quite well.
  • -
    Limited single player, but that's to be expected.
  • -
    No single card download play.
  • -
    Pictionary Quiz is poor.
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