Photo Phantasy

Game review by
Mark Raby, Common Sense Media
Photo Phantasy Game Poster Image
Find the differences between images in storybook settings.

Parents say

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Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

In between puzzle levels, there are short stories based on classic tales like Goldilocks and Peter Pan. In the Peter Pan story, for example, an altruistic message comes across as Peter steals from the rich and gives to the poor.

Positive role models & representations

As the hero in the Peter Pan levels, Peter Pan is presented as a positive role model for players. However, this game is more about the puzzles; all of the stories remain in the background and are not integral to the game.

Ease of play

There are three different levels of difficulty, so players of any skill level can have an engaging experience, but one of the biggest selling points for this game is that the concept is universally graspable. Players are tasked with finding the differences between two images that look identical but have very slight and very specific discrepancies. Because of the intuitive touch-screen controls in which players simply tap on any part of either picture that's different, it's easy for anyone to pick up and play.

Violence & scariness

There is one set of puzzles with a Robin Hood motif. In between these puzzles there are story scenes presented in the form of digital comic books and in one scene, Robin Hood is bonked on the head with the word "Ka-pow!" appearing on the screen.

Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Photo Phantasy is an elementary puzzle game in which players try to figure out what is different between two seemingly identical pictures. This is a time-tested visual puzzle genre that has been around since before the days of video games. It has been seen in children's magazines for decades, and this video game adaptation is easy to control and playable for gamers of any age. The game sets itself apart from others like it because of its themed levels based on Peter Pan and Goldilocks, which makes it a bit more enjoyable than a random collection of puzzles. There are also stories that unfold as players progress through the puzzles, providing them an incentive to go through each one.

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What's it about?

PHOTO PHANTASY is a classic puzzle game in which players are asked to spot the minute differences between pairs of images. What's different about this game is it packages together a group of puzzles based on three stories -- Dreams, Goldilocks, and Peter Pan. As players complete puzzles in each story, they unlock new scenes in that story. Peter Pan and Goldilocks go through the well-known tales in comic book form, while the Dreams story includes a lot of fantastical imagery. Players earn higher scores for finding more differences in each puzzle, though with three levels of difficulty, players of all abilities are able to progress through the stories without too much of a hassle.

Is it any good?

The core gameplay in Photo Phantasy has been seen time and time again. It is not a revolutionary game, but because of the tried and true puzzle format that makes up the experience, it is a surefire fun for players looking for a casual gaming fix. The game is addicting because the answers to every puzzle are literally right on the screen, yet players have to work against the clock to find each one in time. The themed levels and intermittent comic book-style stories add a nice flavor to the game and bring cohesion to the experience, encouraging the players to keep playing after each puzzle.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how video games can help them hone their focus and attention to detail. Can video games help players learn new skills?

  • Where else is it important to pay attention to details?

  • What other puzzle games do you like?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo DS
  • Price: $14.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Zoo Games
  • Release date: February 1, 2011
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • ESRB rating: E for Comic Mischief

For kids who love puzzle adventures

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