“It’s in Japanese… is that okay?” Says the tall, blood-shot eyed twenty-something as he gesticulates softly over the back cover of Otona No DS: Face Training.
I’m in a Laox electronics store in Kawaguchi, about a twenty minute train ride north of Tokyo. “Yes it’s fine,” I say as I take out my point-card for the electronics chain. After paying I walk past a banner-sized advertisement for the (non)game that was released this morning.
Sure a couple of game-sites may have a hands-on preview of this odd title that features one of the DS’ most potentially exciting new accessories, but only on Infendo will you get a day to day review of how the (non)game progresses, and whether or not it improves the musculature and/or appearance of my face.The game comes in a paper box that’s twice the width of a regular DS box and contains a standard plastic DS case (with the cartridge, instructions, and camera), and another cardboard case that houses the cheap two-piece frosty-white DS stand. The camera is just a little bigger than a GBA game and has a switch to pop the lens of the camera out of the housing a bit, which is presumably for original DS users. After starting up the game, the disembodied head of Fumiko Inudou appears to guide you through getting a facial scan and your first face-training exercises.
It took about four shots before the game would let me progress beyond the initial facial recognition phase, and though there is an on screen guide, it looks like the game doesn’t really work unless you’re up close and facing the camera straight on. Also, it looks like the game won’t work so well if you are in a low light environment, or if you can’t place the DS/stand on a flat surface.
After the game had taken a photo that both Inudou and I approved of, another (slightly younger looking) woman’s head appeared and the DS began to talk at me, asking me to make a U shape with my mouth. Then, I was asked to close one eye and raise that side of my mouth, first right, then left. Finally I was asked to raise both eyebrows as high as possible, while at the same time somehow lowering my mouth.
“Surely I look like a complete moron,” I thought, as the five-second timer rang, and my first face training session ended. Fortunately the game had taken a photo at the apex of each exercise to show me just how stupid I looked, and then gave me a grade of 89% (A), after which Inudou’s head asked me to focus more on my eyes, which I remembered screwing up in shot four.
Though A is probably a pretty good grade for a first time “Facener,” I’m pretty sure the exercises get harder as you go along. More importantly: was it fun? Enough that I had a hard time not cracking up while trying to keep my silly faces for a fully five seconds.
I’ll be updating every day for a while in order to track the game (and my face’s) progress, so check back to find out if Facening is a fixture or a fad.