Theoretically, the Wii U is a great platform for art applications and software. Art Academy: Sketchpad and its dedicated Miiverse community have created some wonderful works of art using the GamePad, with many wondering where the heavily delayed full Art Academy application is. Cypronia's My Style Studio: Notebook might be a tempting purchase for the artistically inclined, but this botched attempt at making a powerful design suite will likely just drive players back to a regular pad and paper.
It's ironic that an application called "My Style Studio" could miss the mark on presentation and design so severely. We ran into many baffling user interface decisions that made the experience confusing, which is a fundamental error with an app like this. Players are dropped right into a project, with no explanation or instruction on where to start, what to do, or how to do anything. Checking the e-manual was pointless, since the only information was the short summary found on the eShop and Nintendo's pages.
The main issue, perhaps, is that My Style Studio: Notebook is free of menus and text. Instead, players are treated to a generically rendered wooden desk with a colour palette, several different pens and markers, a few erasers, a stamp and a ruler. All the artwork is done on a notebook that players can customise with a photo, but that was something we didn't notice until we clicked on the photo of the girl on the top of the screen. We ran into even more trouble when we couldn't figure out how to open the notebook - every time we touched it, the book went through each blank page like a flipbook. It wasn't until we slowly opened the cover page that we were able to get into an individual page.
The titular notebook is very small and limited, and users aren't able to zoom all the way in, making drawing hard and imprecise. All of this is disappointing, because there are some interesting tools on offer. There are different pens, markers and brushes of varying thickness and size, the colour options are standard but get the job done, and there are enough pages in the notebook to make a fun little flipbook. Unfortunately, the UI hides most of these features from the player. My Style Studio: Notebook is not a strong design suite by any means, but it is functional, if you have the patience to deal with such a poor user interface.
The plain, generic 3D visuals of the various pens and tools don't do My Style Studio: Notebook any favours, either. The one cheerfully annoying, looping song that plays throughout complements the poor visuals in such a way that some will think they're using a '90s freeware application from the days of 56K modems. Being able to export the notebook to Miiverse may extend the experience a bit, but the results are not nearly as polished or crisp as they should be.
There's no reason to buy My Style Studio: Notebook unless you really want to try every single art application on the Wii U. This restricted, stifling, confusing piece of software isn't going to stand up to the likes of Art Academy; while Nintendo's software may be more expensive, its friendly interface and variety of tools should more than placate Wii U artists. Put this notebook back in your desk.