Foto Showdown

Game review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
Foto Showdown Game Poster Image
Good strategic battle game with tacked-on photo gimmick.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Players need to plan ahead and try to be prepared for different eventualities. Building a successful team of monsters is an exercise in strategic thinking.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The game's hero sets a decent example for players. He shows good sportsmanship and a willingness to listen and learn from those more experienced than him. His female friend and partner, however, has a quick temper and isn't afraid to trash-talk the opposition.

Ease of Play

LIke many of the best strategy games, Foto Showdown has simple rules and easy controls, but allows for all sorts of increasingly challenging strategies that can be learned along the way. The game's difficulty curve is nicely plotted out as well. The only real problem comes with the game's gimmick of using the DSi camera to "capture" monsters. Taking pictures is not difficult, but finding photo ops that will provide you with new and different creatures can prove more challenging than it probably should be.

Violence

Just as in Pokémon and other similar games, the fighting in Foto Showdown is depicted in an abstract way. No violence is shown on screen. The attacking creature is shown first, then the defending creature is shown separately, along with some sort of thwacking "action sound" and a decreasing health bar. A few of the monsters are of the skeleton/demon variety, and might  be scary looking for younger kids.

Sex

One villainous female character in the story wears a revealing outfit that bares the bottoms of her breasts.

Language

There is one instance of "kick your butt" in the dialogue.

Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while Foto Showdown is a game based around monster combat, it contains no real depictions of violence. The stylistic approach used to depict the battles is very similar (and possibly even less graphic) than that in Pokémon, Bakugan, or similar creature-fighting games. It is worth noting, though, that one villainous female character in the story wears a revealing outfit that bares the bottoms of her breasts.

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What's it about?

The storyline to FOTO SHOWDOWN starts with a boy mysteriously appearing in a new world in which he is told that he's been recruited to solve a mystery -- and he can only solve that mystery by capturing monsters and entering into a series of creature-battle arena tournaments. But the story is seconday; the fun here is in the strategic battles. Winning depends on where you position your monsters, what bonus cards you play on them, and most importantly, which monsters you choose to put on your team for any given battle. You find monsters through Foto Showdown's main gimmick: The DSi's creature-capturing camera. Supposedly, when you take a photo of anything around you, the game deciphers the colors in that photo and generates one of 150 different creature types based on that color combo. In order to collect all the beasts, you'd need to take lots of pics of lots of very varied subjects.

Is it any good?

Foto Showdown is an addictively enjoyable strategy game. While its general monster-battle concept may sound derivative of Pokémon or Bakugan, its gameplay is different enough to feel unique. The storyline may be vague and baffling at times, but plot is definitely not the main draw here. What will keep kids playing is the brainy action and the ever-appealing goal of capturing all 150 possible monster types. Unfortunately, achieving that goal feels near impossible. The photo gimmick is a fun idea, but you really have to wonder how well it works. You can take pictures of items with completely different color schemes and still get the same exact monster (almost any player will grow to hate "wyverns," since every third monster you capture will be one). As you can also win new monsters in battles, the photo gimmick isn't even really necessary. The game is really very good without it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of monster battle games. What is it about these game that appeals to kids? Is it the aspect of collecting various creatures and customizing your team? Is it the head-to-head combat? The strategy involved?

  • Is violence in a video game less problematic if it isn't shown? Does a game that only mentions violent actions verbally still count as a violent game?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo DSi
  • Price: $29.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Konami
  • Release date: March 16, 2010
  • Genre: Adventure
  • ESRB rating: E for Mild Fantasy Violence

For kids who love strategy games

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