Review: Faceez (Nintendo DS)

Publisher: Neko Entertainment
Developer: Neko Entertainment
Genre: Photo Application
Release Date: 02/22/2010

With the Nintendo DSi implementing its cameras and social features to compete with the likes of the iPod Touch, it was a matter of time before we began seeing more apps surface among the games. At the end of February, French developer/publisher Neko Entertainment entered this field, offering up a photo application entitled Faceez, available only on the Nintendo DSiWare service. Thankfully, Faceez enters in as one of a handful of apps that are actually making use of the dual camera setup integrated into the Nintendo DSi and steps in to give DSi owners a more robust creative portal in which they can alter their snapshots and spring them to life. Seeing as there is no gameplay to speak of in Faceez, this application might not be for everyone, but anyone interested in having a competent tool to go hand in hand with the cameras they spent $170 on should take notice of Faceez and its extremely suitable $2 price tag.

Again, please note Faceez is an application or a photo tool, to be more exact. As I do not classify it as a game, certain review elements and score labels are adjusted to accommodate as such.

Being a $2 photo application on the DSiWare service, Faceez is about as straightforward as one gets with its purpose and offerings. Faceez allows users to snap a photo of a visage on the fly or utilize existing photos saved on an SD card in order to create a Faceez – a creature that features an oversized portrait for a head and body, complete with stick-like arms and legs. Once a user has pasted someone’s (or something’s) face onto the Faceez, they are given a pre-existing set of more than 150 accessories ranging from hats to facial hair to a tuna the Faceez can hold in its hand. Once the appearance has been decided, the user can then select an animation such as ballet dancing or rapping motions for the Faceez and place them over an in-software background or another photo that has been already saved to the SD card. The user can then take a snapshot of this Faceez to save to their memory and by using the Nintendo DSi Wi-Fi service, you can slap these bad boys up on Facebook.

There you have it. That is the entire premise of Faceez, but the application strives on its simplicity and is very serviceable for 200 Wii Points, especially considering most companies wouldn’t settle for less than a $5 price point on most video gaming services. The application is very easy to use as the title will guide you through the photo process and the menus feature touch screen commands and tabs that are clear and easily understood. Most of the controls are laid out with scrolling bars and arrows the user can press to scroll through options and each command is very responsive. The Facebook sharing has been a key selling point for the title and its ease of use and camera functionality actually grabs at the purpose of the Nintendo DSi – making portable gaming a social outlet for casual gamers. Faceez nails this mission perfectly.

Most of the visuals depend on the user, seeing as a lot of the content is transferred over from photos snapped by the Nintendo DS or saved on the SD card, the title’s graphics are a matter of how well the user can take photos, along with the quality of the DSi’s camera. For the most part, this works out very well and the application even gives the user pointers with lighting, backgrounds, positioning and personal grooming in order to produce the best picture possible, which further adds to its accessibility. The in-software props aren’t overly detailed, but the cartoony look of the items works hand-in-hand with the silliness of the Faceez. However, the real treat is in getting the Faceez to animate, which generally results in some pretty funny scenarios, especially when you have a friend’s face attached.

The sound in Faceez is serviceable, but forgettable, with low-key music that merely serves a backdrop and typical menu-surfing sound effects. While the audio might not be too memorable, I doubt the goal was create powerful audio to accompany the application. The sound here does what it needs to do and nothing more.

Even though Faceez really hits the mark for a $2 application, there are a few aspects that drag the overall experience down a little. First, it would have been nice to utilize the Facebook functionality straight from the application instead of having to trudge back out to the Nintendo DSi menu. Normally, it wouldn’t have been such an issue, but when such a focal point of the game is being able to share the snapshots on Facebook, one will probably expect the feature to be implemented within the app. On that same token, there is no DSi-to-DSi sharing of any sort for the application, which would users to share photos or animated Faceez – a missed opportunity for those that would be devious enough to snap a shot of a fellow DSi player while they aren’t paying attention and send them a crazy caricature of themselves. While the application is entertaining for one person for maybe ten minutes at a time, it is quite amusing to see what a group of friends can come up with, especially since you can group multiple Faceez in the same picture, so being able to share somehow would have put this application up a few more notches.

With the odd number price points that release on the Ware services, DSi owners will sometimes find themselves with a couple hundred extra points to burn and Faceez is a solid recommendation to anyone that would like to have something that actually utilizes their cameras. For a couple of bucks, the application offers a surprising amount of items to throw onto your photos and users are only limited to their imagination and number of items they can conveniently photograph. The application might lose steam quickly for those that prefer to game by themselves and the lack of gameplay might turn some people away outright, however, Faceez is one of the more interesting and entertaining application items I’ve come across on DSiWare.

The Scores
Graphics: GOOD
Control: CLASSIC
Replayability: ENJOYABLE
Balance: GOOD
Originality: GOOD
Addictiveness: MEDIOCRE
Appeal Factor: VERY GOOD
Miscellaneous: GOOD

Short Attention Span Summary

Even though Faceez is a photo application, its wacky creativity, use of the DSi cameras and low price point create a satisfying application offering for the Nintendo DSi. A few more functionality additions would have taken the application up a few notches, but, as it is, Faceez accomplishes what it set out to do with positive results. Outfitting your friends and family in goofy attire and animating them is genuinely amusing and the software makes this process painless. If you don’t mind spending a few paltry bucks on a solid application, you can’t go wrong with this title.



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