Posted by James Newton
A work of art, or a real mess?
With the DS’s touch screen and wireless communications, it’s a wonder there’s no Pictionary game available. Lucky for us, here comes Sega to plug the gap with PictoImage, their take on the classic draw-it-guess-it game.
The single player mode consists of 300 pictures drawn by people of all ages, from 4 upwards, and you simply guess what the picture is. When you get it right you’re awarded points, and then you move onto the next picture.
Naturally, some are easier to guess than others, but every now and again you’ll be faced with a picture that is next to impossible to identify – one of the first images is just black lines on a white background. It’s not a barcode, lines, stripes, a zebra or anything I could think of.
That’s the biggest problem with the single-player mode: with no hints or human opponent to prod you in the right direction, there’s nothing you can do except stare at the picture and hope inspiration strikes you down.
The multi-player modes are better, and vary from sharing one DS to matching wits with seven other players. Naturally, the more players you can involve the better, although the hot seat mode works well, taking it in turns to draw and guess a range of words. You can even specify your own custom words in the dictionary; very useful if you’re like me and can only draw Sonic the Hedgehog.
One of the most entertaining of the multi-player modes is “Pass the Picture”, essentially a mixture of Chinese Whispers and Consequences, where one player draws an image the next player has to copy, and so on down the line until the final player has to guess what the image is. It sounds dull, but as always with these games it only takes one flash of inspiration (or one troublesome player!) to transform a school into a monster truck.
With all the good ideas Sega crammed into the multi-player modes, they missed out the one that would make PictoImage a genuinely worthwhile buy: Wi-Fi Connection support. I can’t imagine anybody knowing seven friends with seven DS consoles and seven copies of PictoImage – although it does support single-card download play – so the ability to play online would have been a tremendous addition. I understand the idea would be susceptible to obscene guesses and images (let’s face it, we’ve all abused Pictochat), but without it PictoImage is rather pointless.
If you’re thinking of getting buying PictoImage just for yourself, do yourself a favour and save your money. If on the other hand you have a few like-minded friends who all fancy giving it a go, there’s enough variety in the multi-player modes to entertain you for a good while, and with its budget price it’s good value. Even so, there are dozens of better multi-player DS games available, which makes it very hard to recommend PictoImage with any confidence.