Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 09.11.2010

Review for Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo on Nintendo DS

Hitting Japan back in August 2007 and only selling around 10,000 units in its first week, Facening de Hyoujou Yutaka ni Inshou Up: Otona no DS Kao Training was seen as the black sheep of the ‘Training’ family that has seen massive hits such as Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old is Your Brain?, Sight Training: Enjoy Exercising and Relaxing Your Eyes, English Training: Have Fun Improving Your Skills, More Brain Training from Dr. Kawashima, Professor Kageyama’s Maths Training, and, more recently, Art Academy: Learn Painting and Drawing Techniques with Step-by-Step Training. Based on the idea of ‘facening,’ the process of improving your facial features through special exercises, something which is mostly prevalent in Japan, the team behind Fire Emblem, Paper Mario and Advance Wars, Intelligent Systems, has teamed up with beauty expert, Fumiko Inudo, to unleash Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo on Nintendo DSi / DSi XL.

Originally planned for a Christmas 2007 release in Europe, then pushed back to Q2 2008, all went quiet on the Face Training front, with most believing it had simply been quietly cancelled due to its weak performance in Japan. However, it now appears that Nintendo of Europe was waiting for the Nintendo DSi / DSi XL userbase to increase considerably before tweaking the product to take advantage of the internal camera, instead of using the original external device that slotted into the GBA port of the DS and DS Lite, presumably because it was less of a financial risk avoiding the unnecessary manufacturing of a peripheral for something that might not sell in massive quantities. Finally launching in October this year, Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo is now Nintendo’s first DSi(XL)-only title since using the internal camera functionality for capturing images of your profile and monitoring the various exercises you are asked to carry out is integral to working with the product.

Face Training starts off like all prior training releases, with a simplistic interface, a very clear introductory sequence, and a little character to act as your guide (in this case a little rectangle called Miles, who starts by explaining how there are two types of facial muscle, those that let us make various expressions and ones used for chewing, with the aim being to tighten both sets using training). A caricature of Fumiko Inudo was included in the Japanese release, but has seemingly been removed for the European version. For those wondering exactly who she is, the lady in question is a beautician who has undertaken years of dedicated research on facial muscles and their relation to skin and beauty, and is the person who worked closely with Intelligent Systems to shape Face Training in such as way as to prove a useful tool for users who wish to keep their skin’s natural elasticity and ‘gorgeous’ look, as well as ease muscle strains and stiffness. According to a German anatomist, Wilhelm Roux, regardless of age, only the muscles you continue to use will develop. Roux’s principle applies to your face in addition to other areas of the body, so if you do not wish for your facial muscles to deteriorate then Face Training could well be the product for you. Or at least that is what Nintendo is hoping!

Screenshot for Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo on Nintendo DS

To prove how impressive an aid this is, Miles shows off a 'Before' and 'After' scenario, highlighting the temperature of a person’s face before training and once the regime has just been completed, with the latter image illustrating how blood flow is improved, which in turn increases metabolism and gives your skin a healthy colour. Following this, the familiar menu layout from other entries into the ‘Training’ family appears, with the calendar shown on the left screen (or right if you are of the left-handed persuasion -- yes, the DSi /DSi XL is held like a book, surprise surprise!) and the in-game options on the touch-screen. These comprise of ‘Recommended Training’ (three randomly selected sessions), ‘Intensive Training’ (for those in-tune with the product already, allowing users to customise their set of exercises, selecting exercises by total duration, choosing an area of the face and neck to focus on, or a particular muscle to train), ‘Today’s Photo’ (to capture your current facial status and store in the calendar), and a picture of Miles that takes you to the ‘Extras’ screen.

Diving into the recommended selection, you can receive all variety of training modules, but Face Training encourages users to do a Body Warm-Up and Face Warm-Up before commencing. The former is to ease tension throughout the body in order to improve the effectiveness of the impending face training, and is conducted through both a visual aid and spoken voice instruction, involving the lifting of shoulders, stretching of the neck and relaxing of your body in general. The latter is simply a preparatory set of basic facial stretches so your face is not shocked when the proper training begins. For those thinking it might sound awkward to hold the DS sideways-on and pull faces at the camera, worry not as there is a sturdy little paper stand included in the box that can even sustain the hefty weight of the DSi XL.

Screenshot for Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo on Nintendo DS

Three examples of exercises for newcomers to Face Training include working the Procerus Muscle (the thin, vertical muscle on the bridge of the nose) by half-closing your eyes and raising your top lip, then keeping your eyes half-closed, raising your eyebrows at the same time, as well as lowering your bottom lip as much as possible. This process is repeated three times. Next on the list is the Lingual Muscle (under your bottom lip; basically your tongue muscle, which can firm up your chin), where you open your mouth and stick your tongue out, holding for a few seconds, relaxing and repeating, before being asked to place your tongue behind your bottom lip, slowly moving it to the left, then right, a few times, before switching to behind the top lip. Finally there is the Buccinator Muscle (the wide muscle that forms your cheeks), which has players pucker their lips, suck in their cheeks, hold and then expand their cheeks whilst still puckering, before finally exhaling to relax. This helps reduce fatty deposits building up in this area, when used during a healthy lifestyle plan.

It should be noted that Nintendo has included several warning notices to prevent problems, such as telling contact lens wearers to not scrunch their eyes closed too hard, hinting that biting your tongue will be painful, or advising those with a nasal prosthesis to not carry out the procerus muscle exercise. Additionally, there is a cool-down function to end your playing session, in order to relieve tiredness, which begins with the following warning message: ‘Take care not to dig your nails into your skin when using the ends of your fingers,’ something that sounded extremely ominous the first time I sat down with Face Training! The idea is that you start the cool-down by gently tapping the facial muscles used with the tips of your fingers, before moving onto rolling your shoulders forwards, then backwards, and then lifting your shoulders to your ears and relaxing several times.

Screenshot for Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo on Nintendo DS

Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo makes great use of the internal camera of the Nintendo DSi / DSi XL, with players aligning their face with the on-screen outline, holding steady and then continuing with the exercises as the camera tracks your movements, pointing out anomalies in stretches at the end of a session. Many people will also wonder exactly how well Face Training manages to tone your facial muscles, since just as there are doubters out there that shunned the effectiveness of Nintendo’s brain, sight and mathematical training programmes. Whilst it has to be said that my youthful complexion did not improve over the period of time testing this product, throughout the various training modules there was definitely a marked change in the feel of various muscles around my face and neck, with the numerous stretches and exercises flexing areas that never really receive much attention.

In addition to the daily training routine, there are little extras to keep owners entertained between sessions. After all, upon release in Japan, Nintendo itself recommended that since each exercise lasts between two and ten minutes to reach its completion, people should not really play any more than fifteen minutes at any one time for fear of facial exhaustion and over-working your muscles. Therefore, there is a Tips recap section, a Face Training Q&A list, plus the chance to collect costumes and presents. There are 48 costumes to collect in total, with new ones becoming unlocked dependent on different actions in the game, and the same goes for the plentiful supply of presents offered (like a Disco Wig is attained by doing training on a Thursday, or Rabbit Teeth are presented for saving ten photos to the calendar). Overall, with the main part of the product focusing on six different facial areas, with more than sixteen different exercises available that definitely work your muscles considerably, the encouragement to return each day and keep up the regime, as well as fun little extras such as the ‘Mirror’ mode where amusing effects can be added to photographs of yourself, Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo is certainly a ‘thinking outside the box’ consideration for Nintendo DSi / DSi XL owners this Christmas.

Screenshot for Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It may sound crazy, but Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo is actually a sturdy little package, rather than the tacky throwaway piece of software that some may have expected. Nintendo, Intelligent Systems and beauty expert Fumiko Inudo have teamed up to craft a simple-yet-stylish training product that may not exactly work miracles, but uses the internal DSi camera extremely well, and certainly does tone up muscles around the neck and face that otherwise may be neglected day-in, day-out. A thoroughly pleasing surprise success.

Developer

Intelligent Systems

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Educational

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

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