So, it should have been titled Faeces.
There are times when it is hard being a reviewer, since certain products thrown our way are not exactly what you would call 'games' in the purest sense. In the case of Faceez on the DSiWare download service, from French outfit Neko Entertainment, this goes a few steps further. Faceez is not simply a case of being moderately different from the norm, but is in fact not even remotely related to the world of videogames. It is merely an application that feeds off the DSi system's in-built camera functionality, complementing the social aspect of photography and editing. Rather like how Ping Pals was meant to be a fleshed out version of Pictochat, except Faceez is much cheaper, and slightly more palatable.
The concept of Faceez seems really exciting. Neko Entertainment has done a great job of building up hype levels, and the promotional trailer really does make it look like an extremely fun experience. However, in reality, it is such a limited application that it is really not worth spending money on something that can easily be recreated on mobile phones, laptops and PCs, without any extra charge involved. The whole idea is that you take a photo, put it in an oval-shaped frame with arms and legs, go crazy with the various editing options, finally plaster it on a random background, and then share the resulting images with friends.
Upon loading Faceez, the player is given four options: 'Take a new picture,' 'List of Faceez,' 'Help' and 'Delete data.' The last two options are rather redundant, since everything is so simple to use that 'Help' is not required, and 'Delete data' merely wipes everything you have spent time playing around with. Taking a picture is the same as using the standard DSi camera, with the exception being that your face must be perfectly fit within the on-screen face frame so that the application can then manipulate the resulting image (making your face blink, smile, and so on). Once your likeness, as well as those of your friends and family, has been captured and is to your liking, it is time to jump into the editing suite. The three main tabs to choose from are 'Mix' (where different parts of peoples' faces can be merged to rather scary effect), 'Disguise' (which allows your face to be decorated with various items, such as a turban, cyborg eye, elephant trunk, clown nose, crazy moustache, and so on) and 'Animate' (where numerous facial expressions can be created, as well as making the ovular body move around drunkenly, like a ballerina, back flip...). This last option is pointless from a sharing point of view, since the animations cannot be exported.
Satisfied with your creation? Well, the next step is to finish off the photo with an appropriate background setting. There is the ability to use photos already stored in your DS library for this, or take an on-the-fly photo, yet for those hoping to find some pre-existing backgrounds in the game to save time, will be left disappointed. This means that those using Faceez will have to wander around looking for specific interesting locales or have to tolerate using the standard tree background, or quickly snap something around the house. It proves to be highly frustrating for anyone that does not want to always have their DSi with them at all times. There should have been options there right from the start, rather than actively relying on the user to drive things along. There is also the annoying factor of having to exit to the DSi menu if you wish to upload and share any final images.
What Faceez should have offered, in order to make it the full-fledged masterpiece application it deserves to be, is an instant online connection so players do not have to save each snapshot, exit the game, go into the DSi photo section and then upload to Facebook (or transfer to an SD card). There should also have been various in-built background settings, as well as various musical themes and sound effects available so users could make their creations even more comical or emotive. Which leads to the final key point - the short animated sequences shown on your DSi are far better to watch than static images. Therefore, there should have been some way to download these little sketches onto SD card. There is definitely a lot of untapped potential here and, in a way, even though this review is ultimately giving Faceez a low final score, it is hoped that enough people do end up purchasing it so that Neko has the chance to indeed work on a more fleshed-out edition in the future.
Once your image has been captured, along with a few friends' photos, the number of editing options is admirable, yet overall it relies on a novelty factor that will dissipate very soon after the purchase has been made.
The technology of the DSi camera is sufficient enough to allow Faceez to capture decent enough miniature photos, whilst the animations are nicely detailed and do a great job of animating what was previously a static image.
One tune plays repeatedly on a loop, but is thankfully unobtrusive and actually quite pleasant to listen to. It is a shame more musical themes were not included.
Whilst it is undoubtedly fun at first, its appeal wears thin very quickly indeed. Being unable to connect directly Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is a major drawback, as is the exclusion of recording any of the actual comical animated clips.
Faceez definitely has charming characteristics, and fun will be had with friends...up to a certain point, when suddenly reality will kick in and the idea of spending 200 Points (GBP 2.00) on something that can easily be recreated on your phone, laptop or home PC for free will prevent you from ever touching this again. Faceez is a lovely idea, but sadly one that is far too underdeveloped to warrant making this an essential purchase.
So, it should have been titled Faeces.
Amazingly enough...that's how I kept pronouncing it when I first saw it. I've tried to be constructive in my review, at least, rather than slamming it completely... �_�