PhotoDojo (Formerly Photo Fighter X) and the Nintendo DSi XL: A Face-On Preview


Slowly making my way through the throng of video game reporters exiting the 2010 Nintendo Media Summit‘s newsworthy opening presentation, I climbed the stairs to the third floor of the W Hotel in San Francisco, where Nintendo’s coveted hands-on gameplay demonstrations were just getting underway. Immediately, I saw a friendly face: Associate PR Manager David Young, clutching one of the brand-new DSi XL handhelds debuting March 28th. Seeing a chance to demo the new system and greet David at the same time, I moved closer — and found myself face to face, in more ways than one, with the hilarious DSiWare title PhotoDojo.

Known as “Fight with Photos: Photo Fighter X” in its Japanese incarnation late last year, PhotoDojo is more of a camera toy than a real fighting game, but that doesn’t stop it from being a fantastic time-waster. It works something like this:

PhotoDojo11.) You take pictures of yourself, a friend, a toaster, your pet cat, or anything else that comes to your imagination, in 11 different poses ranging from Stand, Jump, Crouch and Stagger to the infamous Hadouken.

2.) You provide sound effects for each action your fighter can take, from taking damage to unleashing a powerful Desperation Move.

3.) You take a picture of the backdrop for the stage your fighter will fight on, and add a music track.

4.) You smile as the DSi stitches together all the pictures into an animated fighting game that makes you burst into laughter with the absurdity of it all.

How good does it get? Well, your mileage may vary… but I was in stitches as my avatar shot fireballs of my own head repeatedly into cat-calling, whooping, grunting members of Nintendo’s Treehouse localization team.

PhotoDojo4Actual gameplay, sadly, is about as sparse as it gets in PhotoDojo, with only a single kick, punch, fireball and one of four special moves available, in addition to the ability to jump, crouch and taunt. But the simplicity of the controls (four directions and a single button) does allow Nintendo to offer head-to-head multiplayer battles on a single DSi, with each player holding one side of the device and using the shoulder button for actions. This is the only way to play multiplayer; there’s no ad-hoc or Wi-Fi mode.

Like I said, PhotoDojo is more toy than game… but if it’s priced anywhere near the 200 Wii Points it cost in Japan last December (David told me that an NA price point was still undecided), it will be a must-buy for DSi owners anyhow.

The DSi XL, meanwhile, didn’t impress quite as much as its new game. From my brief experience with the handheld over the course of the day, it’s just the same as a DSi, except easier to grip and with much larger, slightly nicer screens. (With the old DSi’s small size and smaller viewing angle, it would be difficult to appreciate PhotoDojo’s same-DSi multiplayer, I felt.) But for those who already own a DSi or even in some circumstances the earlier DS Lite, I couldn’t imagine the $190 DSi XL being an obvious upgrade.