So for those who have known me for a while, I used to swear by the original Art Academy for the original DSi and XL. At the time of it's release, aside from maybe homebrew, there wasn't anything else that was as good as it IMO on anything else yet. I did literally over 2,000 sketches on that thing, (I'm being very conservative about that estimate as it's probably more than that) and for the longest time that app and the DSiXL were probably my best buddies when I was out and about and felt like drawing something without dealing with messing up pencils or paper or whatnot. So while my use of it hasn't been as big as it once was, my interest was definitely piqued when I saw that a new one was being made for the 3DS. Needless to say I had to have it, and while it's a substantial upgrade in a ton of important ways, it's does have a couple issues that I wish they addressed.
* You can pre-tone canvases now, as well as pick different types of canvases/papers which has an effect on how the digital paint and other mediums react to it.
* The color choices have been expanded quite a bit, and the palette for mixing colors has greatly been expanded.
* Paintings can actually be dried now, and you can work on top of them with either more paint or actually use another medium with it. Speaking of which...
* The mediums you can choose from has been expanded to now support soft pastel and color pencil, along with the paint and traditional pencil that was there before. Both the new additions work very well, especially the pastel which actually allows you to use a blending stump. Both also have a healthy amount of colors that you can choose from as well.
* For those starting out, the tutorials they have on here are more comprehensive than ever and IMO are really good even for those with experience. You can do them at your own pace, and they go over the steps quite well. There's also a ton more photo references for the stuff you work on now, many of which are in 3D and have had enough photos shot to where you can see said reference from multiple angles and lighting.
* You can save as many work-in-progress or finished works that your SD card can hold. This is a significant upgrade over the 1 WIP save per app the old one was capable of as you no longer have to make huge decisions about sketches you've got held over. You can also share art with friends in the app itself as opposed to having to use the system's photo application. You can also have a virtual gallery of your work too, which is neat to see in 3D.
*It IS a hair bit more sluggish in running now compared to the zippy DSi release, no doubt due to everything that they've added to it. This probably explains my only other issue with it too...
*The image output is still limited to 640 x 480. Along with performance reasons while working with it, this is probably so that the system isn't killed when rendering the images in your personal gallery in the game. I do understand this, but at the same there's no getting around that it still sucks a bit and takes a little vitality out of what is otherwise a superb package. As a result, if you're just using something like this for sketching I'd have to say give Colors 3D a shot. While it's not as in-depth, it still works well enough for that sort of thing, and it's output file is higher resolution too.
Past that, I'd have to say if you were a fan of the original and want a new and improved one go ahead and get it. Aside from some little things, there's more than enough here to justify the purchase. That goes double if you're not looking to get some expensive tablet to do something like this with.
I give it 9 out of 10.