Inside Pulse 12

Review: Beastly: Frantic Foto (Nintendo DS)

Beastly: Frantic Foto
Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Storm City Entertainment
Developer: Visual Impact
Release Date: 3/8/11

Storm City puts their “Frantic Foto“ concept to work again, and offers up a NDS tie-in for the recent film Beastly, which is a modern day remix of the classic Beauty and The Beast fairy tale. Frantic Foto is a simple enough concept that works reasonably well for giving fans something to push buttons or slide touch screens to in celebration of whatever source material the formula is applied to, and Beastly: Frantic Foto pretty much does that as well as you’d expect.

Basically, the Frantic Foto series is a spot the difference puzzle game series, where players have to spot various discrepancies between seemingly identical stills on both of the Nintendo DS screens. A timer will be ticking down as your eyes “frantically” scramble to spot what is different on the touch screen portion of your DS. If the timer bar depletes completely, you’ll lose one of your three available lives, and losing all three lives will result in the obvious game over. While you’re scanning, the letters that spell “BEASTLY” will randomly appear. By spelling the word entirely, you’ll be rewarded with bonus points to your score, which otherwise is dependent on how quickly you can find the five differences between the photos. Players will also have five power-up items to use, that range from freezing the timer temporarily to instantly finding the differences you are on the lookout for.

All in all, this is a simple and effective structure template that is perfectly suitable for making interactive products based on films or other media that might not translate well into a believable action game, and also is casual enough conceptually to appeal to pretty much anyone who may like the source material involved. The problem with this particular Frantic Foto endeavor is that the digitalized stills used from the film, which essentially are the most important part of the game, are considerably grainy on the DS screens, and this makes looking for the differences more taxing than it technically should be. It also doesn’t do your eyes any favors either. Instead of looking for something that is subtly off, many times you’ll be finding yourself trying to count pixels to see if the discrepancy you’re looking for is in fact the one color wood working in a particular portion of a window pane somewhere off in the background of the photo’s focal point.

Another issue is the particular photographs used. While not entirely the fault of the developer per se, a good portion of the photos you’ll be scanning are not very visually stimulating to look at. Several images that are pretty much more or less crowds of people (the backs of people I might add) are the absolute opposite of something I’d want to focus strongly on for any given amount of time. Later on, some images of characters and other more dramatic scenes will become the basis of your difference spotting, but I believe if a game is entirely based on the still photography of something, all the associated imagery should be appealing and interesting at a glance. Honestly, if I was to buy this game in anticipation of the film, I believe I’d have to reevaluate my level of excitement based on what I’ve seen here in fear that I might fall asleep in the theater. The subject matter of the stills in question don’t contain explosions or giant monsters wrecking a city, probably because these kinds of things aren’t in the film itself, but it’s hard to get excited over anything regardless of its thematic elements when it’s being represented by photographs of people standing in a cafeteria.

The game features a few variations in way of the differences between the photos, which bumps up the replay value a bit, but the differences aren’t individual, and the five to be found within any given photo aren’t randomly pulled, meaning that, for example, photo one may have two or three different sets of differences. So if you play enough you’ll be able to know what set is being used after finding only one discrepancy.

To complete the experience, Beastly: Frantic Foto features three different mini games that can be played every five levels. Two of these games are merely variations of the core spot the difference gameplay, and the other is a traditional sliding tile puzzle wherein the player has to put together the unscrambled image as quickly as possible. The game also has a multiplayer versus mode that could be fun with a friend, but the mode requires two individual game cards to play, which given the game in question, might not be so reasonable. If you’re the sort of person who was heavily looking forward to the film, Beastly: Frantic Foto might be fun as a brief, film-themed diversion, but you’re unlikely to get anything out of the multiplayer, and there’s not all that much to the single player to warrant actually buying the game, to be frank.

The Scores:
Story/Game Modes: WORTHLESS
Graphics: POOR
Control/Gameplay: GOOD
Replayability: GOOD
Originality: MEDIOCRE
Addictiveness: MEDIOCRE
Appeal: GOOD
Miscellaneous: GOOD


Short Attention Span Summary:

Beastly: Frantic Foto is fine conceptually, but visually, the game fails to inspire and is represented by somewhat pixilated imagery, and taking into consideration that the game is solely about doing things with still photography of the source material, it’s a bit disappointing. Fans of the film might be able to justify spending the twenty dollar asking price to interact with something based on it, but anyone else would do better playing spot the difference games on the internet for free, or purchasing an iPhone 4 game for a few dollars that will have imagery in HD.