Posted by Desiree Turner
Fun with friends
The DSi has been getting some love lately in terms of games that take advantage of its onboard cameras, but applications geared toward straight-up photo manipulation are still somewhat sparse. Neko Entertainment has come forward to help fill the gap with Faceez, a quirky little application promising plenty of ways for you to customise photos of faces taken with the DSi cameras, including funny expressions, disguises, and animations. It's guaranteed to amuse you and your friends, and therein lies the only real issue with this application: social hermits, beware.
First, you'll need an image of a face, whether it be yours, a friend's, or even one you've drawn on a piece of paper. The application helps you to take the best picture possible by providing an on-screen guide to help line up your shot as well as helpful tips for lighting, background and grooming. After taking a picture, a stick-figure with your face as its torso (known as "Faceez") will come to life on the top screen, demonstrating the kind of photo manipulation on offer. The reason the application recommends you get your facial photographs so close to the on-screen guidelines is because the morphing happens within pretty strict parameters – if you got it right, you'll watch your new creation eat popcorn or perhaps perform a dramatic reading. You'll get the hang of taking just the right shots with practice.
While creating your Faceez, there are three areas in which you'll modify how your Faceez looks or moves on the upper screen: Mix, Disguise, and Animate. Ever wondered how you'd look with Barbara Streisand's nose? Mix lets you graft features from other face-images onto your current Faceez. There is an option to help normalise the colour between images taken in different lighting, but it's hit-or-miss – for best results, try to take all your face-images in strong lighting. Disguise offers different joke facial features and accessories to turn your Faceez into any number of identities, from a kitty-cat to the bearded lady. Animate, however, is what you'll be downloading this for. Here, you'll give your Faceez different animated expressions and set its stick-figure body into motion. Have your Faceez do backflips while waving an umbrella in the air if you like, it's up to you. The possibilities aren't exactly endless, but they'll keep you busy for a while. If you're in the mood to be lazy, under each tab is a "Random" button to generate random options for you within that particular menu.
When you're happy with what you've slapped together, tap the check-mark in the bottom right-hand corner to return to the Control Panel. Here, you may save your work, click the 'Random' button to generate an entirely different Faceez, or take a Screenshot. Under Screenshot, you'll be provided with a generic background, but you may choose a background image from those already saved to your DSi if you prefer or even take another photo to use as a background right then and there. Your Faceez will do its thing uninterrupted on the top screen unless you choose to pause it while setting up the perfect screenshot. With the touchscreen buttons, manipulate your Faceez however you like, and when you're ready, tap Save Screenshot to save the current image to the DSi album. If you want to add multiple Faceez to one image, you'll have to add them one at a time, repeating the same screenshot process over and over. Depending on how many Faceez you want hanging out in one image, you may wind up filling your DSi album with useless transitional screenshots.
You are limited to 20 face-images with which to Mix together your hilarious creations, and 100 saved Faceez in all. Though you're not able to delete images you've taken with Faceez, you are allowed to replace them. However, any Faceez created whether in whole or in part using an image you've replaced will be modified accordingly.
Though prior information about Faceez mentions uploading to Facebook, note that in order to do so you'll have to exit Faceez and use the DSi Camera app; Faceez is neither capable of uploading to Facebook on its own nor does it have any option to send screenshots you've taken to friends. There's also no option to pass on any of your hilarious Faceez to friends who have downloaded the app to their DSi, which limits the fun involved to playing around in person. This application is really all about your friends and the hilarity you'll enjoy using it together. If you don't have people around to photograph and show off for, you won't get much out of Faceez.
This application features one long, looping soundtrack that's about on-par with an editing menu in The Sims; just a random inoffensive theme playing while you fiddle with things. Graphics-wise, the animations themselves are smooth and natural-looking, so far as stick figures and wagging elephant trunks go. Each menu is laid out with buttons that are easy to read, and what's left unexplained is intuitive enough for you to figure it out on your own. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to make a Faceez, just someone with a steady hand and some friends around to enjoy what they've created.
Faceez is an application meant to be shared among friends in person. You can take screenshots of your work and post those to Facebook via the DSi Camera, but not only is that tedious and out-of-the-way, it also eschews the most interesting part of the application: the animations. As a solo experience, you'll spend maybe five minutes messing around with it and then move it to your SD card because it's taking up space, but if you're one to bust out your DSi in public to show off something cool every so often, this application will be a blast at parties.