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Foto Showdown – DSi

Foto Showdown – DSi

Foto Showdown - DSiPlatform:  Nintendo DSi

Release Date (NA):  March 9th, 2010

Developer:  Alpha Unit

Publisher:  Konami

Genre:  Action RPG

Nerd Rating:  6.5 out of 10



Foto Showdown is the first of four DSi exclusive titles that saw a physical release.  Many digital games have been released under the “DSiWare” banner, but unknown to most, 4 games designed especially for the Nintendo DSi (and therefore incompatible with the original DS or DS Lite) were released in physical form.  Known as Monster Finder in Japan (and a very apt description I might add), Foto Showdown could be construed as a simplified Pokémon clone, but it does utilize the handheld’s camera in a novel way.

If you’ve ever played any of the main-series installments of Pokémon, Foto Showdown will be instantly familiar.  If you take all of the walking around, adventure-like aspects out of the former and strip away nearly everything aside from the combat, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s in store.  Teams of monsters face off against each other in a turn-based format, distilling the combat systems of several popular RPGs.  There’s not much framework here to provide any meaningful context or larger depth of gameplay, but to its credit, it gets to the core of what many gamers look forward to in similar games.

Foto Showdown - DSiFoto Showdown operates under some thin premise of these 2 investigators attempting to uncover the goings on at an island where “monster tournaments” are being held.  Before long, extra-dimensional beings are popping up, issuing threats, challenges, and for all intents and purposes acting like Pokémon trainers and gym leaders.  Peripheral necessities, such as items to assist one’s monsters and the equipment needed to capture new monsters are available via an in-game shop, which accepts money earned by winning battles.  Capturing monsters is the fun part.

Despite its derivative nature, Foto Showdown makes awesome use of the camera.  In the game, the character has a sort of “camera gun,” simply referred to as “cameras.”  These cameras are powered by different “bullets,” analogous to Pokéballs.  One can acquire better cameras by moving through the game, and different combinations of bullets and camera yield different results.  When using the feature, one simply snaps a picture with the DSi (or 3DS in my case) and a monster will be “found.”  I’ve read that the predominant color in the photo determines what monster is “found,” but with over 100 monsters, I’m convinced there’s more to it.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive guide to Foto Showdown anywhere on the web.  Gaining tons of duplicates is a bit of a problem, but luckily one can sell these monsters back to the store and recoup the expense of a standard bullet.

Foto Showdown - DSiDiscovering monsters by taking these photos is pretty fun in of itself and certainly more enjoyable than wandering through weeds and throwing Pokéballs.  With these monsters, a “deck” is built.  During battles, 3 monsters are allowed on the field at a time.  The deck has 6 slots for reinforcements, and each monster has 2 attacks with all sorts of “range” and “type” stats.  Again, like a familiar franchise we all know, certain types are weaker or stronger against others and all in all there’s a diverse and intricate system at work, even if the gameplay itself is fairly simplistic.

The names of the creatures might not be too clever, though I do like the look of the monsters.  They’re cartoonish, but not as silly and cutesy as Pokémon.  Spanning robots, wild animals, and beasts from mythological and horror lore, the variety keeps the multitude of battles entertaining.  To be expected, there isn’t much in the way of animation.  Backgrounds are simple, menus are clean, and overall the entire interface is very elegant and user friendly.  There’s a bit of an old school visual tinge overlaying the modern infrastructure, and although these graphics won’t blow anyone away, they are perfectly suitable considering the nature of the game.

Sound, on the other hand, is a misfire.  It’s fairly dull and generic without any standout qualities, both in the music and sound effect departments.  Handheld games aren’t always known for their sound (though this has changed in recent years) and it’s an issue I can forgive.  Besides, I’m often forced to keep the sound off or at a very low volume in the environments where I generally partake of portable gaming.

Foto Showdown - DSiThe gameplay is inherently repetitive and simplistic, but it’s also quite addictive.  With such a large number of battles to fight and over 100 monsters to find, there’s a good deal of replay value.  The monsters have enough different stats and attributes to keep strategic combinations endless, and of course you’ll need a continuous source of income (obtained through replaying previous battles) to keep up the search for all the monsters.

The lack of depth keeps me from giving Foto Showdown a solid 7 (a “good” game in my book); there needs to be a little more “to do” to really bump this out of “just decent” territory.  Finding monsters can also get marginally frustrating at times, and without any clear indications of how the whole photo/monster thing really works, I’m at odds with whether or not to keep dredging through and snapping shots of every thing (and color) I can think of or to just point and shoot randomly and hope for the best.  The combat mechanics are nicely designed and executed however, and it is a fun game to spend some time with.  If you enjoy turn-based combat and always wanted to get rid of pesky things like story development found in other RPGs, then you should give Foto Showdown a chance.  It’s also a clever and practical use of the device’s camera within a game and definitely deserves a nod for being so.  It never made much of a splash with gamers, so if you’re interested, you can easily find it for $5 or less!

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

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  1. I must admit the monsters look pretty gnarly. It seems they went to the more grotesque and in other cases grand side of design where most take the cutesy appeal. This seems to tread closer to the the shin megami tensei kneck of the woods, which is always something I can get down with.
    Any hilariously bad names?

  2. Such a neat concept 🙂 They should’ve focused more on the actual meat of the game though, I suppose :l


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