Painting is a lot of fun, and as it happens, it's even more fun with a group. Why it's taken so long for a game studio to realise this is beyond us – and it was beyond the man behind Paint Splash and father of three, Uffe Flarup, as well. That's why he created Kidspaint, a homebrew application that let families everywhere enjoy creating art together. Now, after more than 50,000 downloads according to the official website, his program has gone legit. But is this the next Mario Paint or should Uffe have left it on the studio floor?
Paint Mode is the main area, where one to four Wii Remote-wielding artists can contribute to the same work. There are 100 colours at your disposal as well as six tools – paint brush, eraser, spraypaint, sponge, eyedropper and what appears to represent a highlighter. The sponge creates a blurring effect while the eyedropper lets you copy an exact hue from the painting to use with another tool, and the highlighter paints in a lighter shade, above or below the other strokes. You can also change the size of the brush, erase using the B button without switching your tool and undo or redo a move.
If Paint Splash is anything, it's easy to use. Everything is laid out simply and accessibly, and any person, kid or adult, could pick it up with very little trouble at all. Unfortunately, however, the tools here are quite limited. Some pretty standard ones are missing, like a paint bucket/fill area tool, a way to make straight lines or shapes and text input. Any PhotoShop-esque effects would have been welcome too, and we sorely felt the lack of a way to adjust your pressure of application. Your options exponentially increase with the simple ability to alter this, and it's a shame it wasn't included. The creators of Paint Splash may not have intended it for advanced audiences, but with a few more tools added, perhaps to a separate area of the game to not confuse the youngsters, the depth of this application would increase many times over.
Still, with what's available you can create quite a range of artwork, as you can tell by the screenshots – just take a look at this beautiful depiction of our own Corbie Dillard enjoying an ocean sunset, for example. (Or is it sunrise? See, now that's art.) And other than the fill and straight line tools, most youngsters will likely not notice the missing options.
Splash Mode makes up the game's second half and is especially enjoyable with more than one player on the canvas, up to four of which can once again participate. Dragging the pointer across the screen applies a random brush, size and colour, so going off-screen and coming back will create an entirely different effect. Pressing buttons will cut up and remix the picture, and perhaps the most fun part of all is that flicking your Remote at the screen simulates flicking paint onto the image. Mind, you can't watch globs of the stuff run down like a part-time Jackson Pollock, but it's still great fun and allows the youngest members of your family to get in on the action as well. If you've been looking for a way to get all your kids participating in the same game, this is one great option.
The cherry on top is the ability to transfer your artwork to the SD card as 640x480 JPEGs. This means that you can share your creations online or continue to alter them on the Photo Channel. It's great that players can now show off their pieces or print out their kids' works to put up on the fridge, or take them into another program to apply some of those missing features we spoke of earlier – though that still doesn't excuse their absence in-game.
Paint Splash is a great way to get up to four players of all ages having fun together and creating some neat artwork to boot, sporting both a traditional canvas mode and the simpler, more chaotic Splash Mode. The ability to export to an SD card is a great inclusion, making sure that your work isn't trapped on the Wii. It's let down, however, by its lacking variety of tools, but you'll still have a great time painting as a group, even with your family's youngest of gamers.