There have already been a few attempts at getting painting software right on the DS. In fact, considering that one of the system's main control methods is a pen that you use to draw on the screen, we're surprised there haven't been more. While Nintendo's Art Academy has been the best of the bunch to date, Colors 3D is here now and it completely obliterates the competition.
At its simplest, it's a seemingly basic paint package that enables you to set the thickness of your brush, the opacity (how watery it is, essentially) and not much else. There's an airbrush, an eraser and that's more or less it in terms of tools. But what makes Colors 3D is the way in which these tools are so easy to use, and use well at that. By holding up or down on the D-Pad as you paint you can change the pressure you put on your brush, making the paint darker or lighter on the fly.
A simple upward flick of the Circle Pad zooms the painting in to up to 400 per cent, enabling you to draw or paint tiny details that will only appear a single pixel thick in the final image but can make all the difference. Panning across your canvas and the colour dropping tool are also mapped to the D-Pad, allowing for a quick and easy control system once you get used to it, while the L button hides other options like colour selection.
The trump card in Colors! 3D, though, is the ability to paint over up to five layers and create your own 3D images. Two-layered doodling on Letter Box is fun, but this is a whole other world by comparison and is so simple to use, with left and right on the Circle Pad flicking between layers.
Once you've finished your painting you get the option to save 2D or 3D copies to your SD card (for attaching to Letter Box messages, if you wish), or upload your creations to the Colors 3D website, where other users can play back the entire painting. It seems as though the developer has thought of everything, as you can even lay a photo from your 3DS photo library underneath to trace over, or take part in two-player painting locally where you and a friend share the same canvas.
This is a wonderful piece of software for creative types. Painting in 3D is a treat and while it may seem simple at first glance, some of the stuff you can do with it is breathtaking: just look at the game's online gallery at colorslive.com to see other players' submissions and see what we mean. When the worst thing about a game is that the title has Americanised spelling, you know you're onto a winner.
Colors 3D is one of the best 3DS eShop games