Foto Face: The Face Stealer Strikes

Game review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
Foto Face: The Face Stealer Strikes Game Poster Image
Creative game uses DSi camera; potential for abuse is high.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

There is no real message present in the game's storyline, but some parents may be troubled by the game's ability to let children cathartically beat on friends or family members, by putting familar faces onto the villains in the game.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The hero never initiates fighting; it's always the villains and monsters who come after him (or her) first. Plus, the hero is always ready to come to the aid of a side character who asks for assistance.

Ease of Play

On the whole, the game is not difficult, but there are a few incredibly tricky platform jumping sections that may take lots of trial and error to traverse.


The hero uses swords, spy guns, clubs, claws, and the like to dispatch sily looking monsters. There is no blood, but the impact of the violence can be magnified if the player puts the faces of friends or relatives on the bad guys he's shooting and slicing. Beaten enemies splay their arms and legs out and simply fall off the screen. As they "die," there can be any kind of noise from a small grunt to a blood-curdling scream -- all depending upon what kind of sound the player records.


There is no sexual material inherent in the game. However, as players can incorporate their own photos and sound recordings into the game, it is entirely possible for a player to create his or her own sexual material for the game.


There is no foul language inherent in the game. However, as players can incorporate their own sound recordings into the game, it is entirely possible for a player to add profanity.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Not unless a player adds it on his or her own.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that at its heart, this platform-jumping action game is no more violent or offensive than a Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog game. However, since kids can use the DSi to take photos and record sounds, and then add those sounds and pictures into the game, the potential exists for Foto Face to become something much less wholesome. Most kids, though, will probably simply enjoy the silliness of seeing a their faces on video game characters and have fun with the opportunites for creativity that the game offers. Parents should know which group their kids may fall into, and may want to make sure to activate the DSi's parental controls.

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What's it about?

FOTO FACE: THE FACE STEALER STRIKES is a downloadable game for Nintendo's DSi handheld, which allows players to take photographs of people's faces and put them onto the game's characters. It also allows players to record their own sound bites that will become characters' speech within the game. The game itself is an old-school 2-D platformer, in the style of the original Mario Bros. games. The plot revolves around a villain known as the Face Stealer, who has made himself look like the hero (a.k.a., the player). The hero must traverse haunted mansions, wild west frontiers, and the Far East to track down and stop his (or her) doppleganger.

Is it any good?

Without its photo-capture capabilities, Foto Face: The Face Stealer Strikes would feel like a been-there, done-that sidescroller from the early '90s. But the game's big gimmick works far better than you might imagine, and adds a huge helping of fun and replay value to the whole experience. You can customize every character in the game, from the hero and major villains to random bats and snakes, giving each of them a face and voice of your choosing. Taking the pictures is very simple -- all you need to do is center the subject's mug in a circle on the DSi's screen. And for every character, you'll take several pics, each with different expressions, allowing the software to animate the faces (it's not great animation, but it's enough to make the mouths open and close while talking -- and it's funny). There's enough here to make Foto Face's $8 price tag seem like a huge bargain.

Online interaction: Snapshots of the hero -- with the player's chosen photograph as the hero's face -- can be shared with friends or posted online to Facebook. Since there's no guarantee that pranking teens won't photograph something other than their faces, this online component can be risky. Be sure to use the DSi's parental controls.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it's like to see yourself in a video game? Is it more exciting? Or merely silly? Is there anything disturbing about seeing "themselves" get hit in battle? How did they go about choosing what sound bites to record for the characters' vocals?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo DSi
  • Price: $8.00
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Electronic Arts
  • Release date: November 30, 2009
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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