We first played Photo Dojo back at Nintendo’s Media Summit in February, and in the hustle and bustle of the event it was a huge amount of fun. Now it’s out of the O2 and into the hands of gamers everywhere, it’s still a great deal of fun but its flaws are far more apparent.
Photo Dojo is an extremely simplistic fighting game that involves just one attack button and eight directions. Had it just featured generic fighting game characters it’s likely it would fail to score even in the upper half of the review scale, but the way it uses the DSi’s functions helps it go a lot further.
Before you can punch any pugilists, you have to create your own fighter using the camera and microphone. Taking thirteen photos and ten voice recordings, you sculpt a unique character and here lies the game’s longevity: the potential to create fighters based on anything you can think of is clear. Pirates? Fighting game homages? Robot ninjas wearing tutus? If you can photograph it, you can fight with it.
If you’re playing solo, you can use the DSi’s internal camera and a timer function to snap those stances without embarrassing yourself in front of anyone else. Naturally it’s easier to get another player to line up the photos, but you can always retake any photos later if they don’t turn out how you’d hoped. Some of the outlines can be tough to match accurately, creating some dodgy-looking walks and jumps, but that only adds to the hilarity.
In fact, creating a fighter is Photo Dojo’s main source of amusement as you laugh through kicks, silly faces and taunts, with the potential almost endless, and eight slots in which to save your creations. Taking your fighter into battle and seeing the often shambling results is funny too at first, but soon wears off.
In single-player you scroll from left to right attempting to defeat 100 enemies, with your best score recorded for you to beat. That’s genuinely it: there’s no other options for solo fighters whatsoever, not even so much as an arcade-style tournament or anything else. Naturally, you won’t want to play this one solo, and playing against a friend on the same DS is a lot of fun: creating a secret fighter and unleashing their stupid phrases and kicks on your opponent is hilarious.
That said, look past the jokes and you have the most barebones fighter imaginable: there’s no block, only two special moves and not even a best-of-three setup. You’ll likely find yourselves bashing the attack button to jab your opponent into defeat, and any form of strategy or nuance is missing: this isn’t exactly the sweet science.
It’s hard to knock Photo Dojo: its versatility and use of the DSi’s functions are superb, and the potential to create fighters based on friends, figures and anything else you can photograph is enough to forgive its simplicity and lack of gameplay modes. For 200 Points it’s almost impossible to go wrong with this one if you have a few friends to play with and don’t mind laughing at your own expense.