First Impressions: Shashin de Kakutō! Photo Fighter X

Two street fighters and a microphone

No doubt many have seen the latest and greatest fighting game on the Wii and thought "me and my mates could do better than that." Well Nintendo must have read your pixie-stick addled thoughts because they went and released a D.I.Y. fighting game for the DSi last December in Japan called Photo Fighter X so you can prove it!

Okay, you won't be able to create a great fighting game, but it cannot be denied that this budget title (a mere 200 Points) is a whole lot of fun if you can find someone else to invest a bit of time getting it set up. Using the cameras and mic on the DSi, some virtual photo frames and a program that turns them into a basic fighter is really a blast.

If you don't know Japanese there's a little bit of trial-and-error involved, but it's pretty easy to figure out; aided by the linear nature of the initial photography and audio recording sessions. First, you take a couple of shots of the fighter in question for the character select and game finish screens. You can press the X button to toggle between the cameras to take a self-portrait, but for the rest you'll need a friend and a bit of space. There's a series of twelve photos to take, including poses for jumping, kicking, punching, ducking and getting knocked back. Then you have a circular photo for your special "Hadoken"-style fireball attack and two additional images: one for blocking and a victory pose. Finally you take "stage" photos to act as the game background: 8 in all and each with its own soundtrack.

After taking the photos, you need to add sound effects. For most of them it's pretty clear cut: there's one that plays after you select your fighter, then sounds for your super attack, your "fireball" attack, kicks, punches, getting hit and getting knocked down for the count. There are no stock fighters or backgrounds included, so you must go through this set-up process to play the game - people without friends, interested co-workers or sympathetic neighbours need not apply.

After all this you can finally play the game. You can play a single-player side-scrolling endurance game where you're trying to defeat up to 100 enemies before your life runs out. Enemies consist of the other stored fighters on your DSi (the same character is repeated if you only made one) coming from the right side of the screen - sometimes several at a time. Your opponents come in mini and giant sizes for a bit of variety, with size-matching pitch-adjustments being made to sound effects as appropriate. You can also play a versus match against the computer or another player, though you'll both be playing on the same DSi which is where the LL/XL model will come in handy.

The controls are incredibly simple, using the D-PAD and a single button to pull off all manner of attacks: up and down on the D-PAD jumps and ducks, the button on its own does kicks, button + D-PAD "forward" punches, button + D-PAD "back" does the fireball and button + D-PAD down does an alternate special attack which is different for each player (we saw a flip kick and a spread shot of fireballs). On rare occasions you'll be prompted to tap the touchscreen to trigger a "super" special attack (again different for each player) complete with a streaking background and a character photo displayed on-screen. Tapping the screen otherwise causes a photo to come up which acts like a "block" to reduce damage taken. In a two-player match the shoulder buttons are used as action buttons with player 2 using the face buttons for movement. It may sound awkward, but it actually works pretty well - this isn't a tournament arcade fighter after all!

At first glance this is just a lame throwaway title - which is true - but it's the kind of thing that will have you and your friends/co-workers LOL'ing for ages. It's the kind of goofiness that can sell the DSi to someone who doesn't ordinarily play games and it's a concept that's long overdue. Since it's a Nintendo title and requires minimal localisation effort we hope Photo Fighter X will be showing up outside of Japan soon!