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Best Played While Drunk

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Touch screen video kiosks can be seen in taverns, bars and even bowling allies across the country.  Just insert a dollar and you can be entertained with a wealth of simple touch control mini games.  One of the games on these popular kiosks is a game often referred to as “Photo Hunt” where the goal is to simply point out the differences between two pictures.  Storm City Games now gives you the opportunity to play this game in the comfort of your own home, away from angry and loud drunks.  However, just like at the bar, this game can become more difficult with each alcoholic beverage you consume.

Gameplay is as easy as it gets:  tap where you see a difference between the two images.  The top screen will display the true photograph, while the bottom touch screen will have minor differences, much like those old cartoon puzzles in the Sunday newspaper.  During the game’s main mode, the player must find five differences before time runs out. 

As fun as Foto Frenzy is, the biggest flaw is perhaps mostly hardware based.  Although images look pretty decent coming from the DS, most differences between the two images are usually quite hard to distinguish due to hardware limitations.  Because of this, it is highly recommended to play this game with your DS’ backlit settings set to the max.  Many differences between pictures involve shadows or other subtle changes that would near impossible to see with a lower light setting.  The DS is also limited to the smaller screen, which makes finding differences easy because the space in which to search is small, but at the same time difficult, because the DS cannot easily display 300 dpi detailed images. 

Luckily, the game’s magnifying glass symbol, the hint feature, will supply one answer for the player.  These must be used sparingly as they are in limited supply, but more can be unlocked when successful.  This feature alone helps alleviate some of the lower res frustration of the DS.

Hardware limitations aside, Foto Frenzy is definitely an addictive game.  Only a few minor hiccups hold back the game’s otherwise solid presentation values.  First, if the player fails, the only option the game supplies to the player is to “try again.”  Once this option is selected, a brand new image is automatically chosen for the player.  Although it might be considered cheating, it would have been nice if an option was implemented to actually see where the remaining differences were before moving on to the to next picture.  Because the game saves your progress, it is understandable why this feature is not in the final product, but this problem does arise from the hard to see/lower quality of the DS’ hardware.  On some images, it is extremely difficult to spot the differences and almost makes the player wonder if the game is cheating.

For the most part, this game has a pretty clean interface except when it comes to navigating the menus in Puzzle Mode.  Here, the player must mindlessly scroll through each individual picture before an unlocked puzzle is highlighted.  Why make the player scroll through dozens of inaccessible images?  As more puzzles are unlocked, this will become less of an issue, but it is very cumbersome to find accessible puzzles.  As frustrating as this issue is, it is minor.

This game is also multiplayer friendly as there are a number of different options based around a single cartridge.  Cooperative, Competitive, and Last Man standing are sure to entertain.  There are even a few different options when playing solo as well.  Besides the main mode and the Puzzle mode (where you slide part of an image together to make one image), the Extreme mode will challenge players to find as many differences within a three minute time limit.  Here, there are no hints and there is only one difference between each set of images.  Unfortunately, there is no WiFi Leaderboards to upload your best scores, but the game does keep track of local high scores for bragging rights between you and your friends. 

After finishing each image, the photographer’s name and copyright date give props to where they are due.  While this helps add something a little extra to the game’s overall presentation, the audio department by far is the biggest upset.  The same song repeats endlessly throughout the course of the game.  Even the “hurry up, time is running out” sound effect is annoying and seems to appear a little too early, forcing you to listen to it for an even longer amount of time.  But with this style of puzzle game, the audio values don’t really have high expectations either.

If you don’t want to bring your girlfriend to the bar to play the video kiosk version, this DS is a great alternative.  With just a few gripes, spotting the difference between two images is a great casual game and a perfect fit for the DS, both for single and multiple players.  Retailing at the budget price of $20, you might want to take a second glance at this game, pun intended… And if the game’s higher difficulties are not challenging enough, trying downing a few shots and a couple beers to give this game that pub-like feeling. 

Better Than: Dealing with drunks at the bar

Also Try: Using Photoshop

Wait For It: A stronger prescription from your eye doctor

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