iSpot Japan (DSiWare)

Game Review

iSpot Japan Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

The multiplayer is the real difference

Fans of spot-the-difference puzzles will know exactly what to expect from EnjoyUp Games' latest release, iSpot Japan. Players are presented with two similar photographs, and they must identify any details that differ between them. It's simple, and it's a perfect fit for touch screen gaming.

Unfortunately, that's about all it is. The single player mode features a rotating selection of these puzzles, broken into three different difficulties. Each difficulty features an alternate number of differences to find, but the gameplay doesn't change at all between them. That's not necessarily a problem in itself, particularly for fans of the genre, but it can become pretty tedious pretty quickly for those who don't find themselves engaged off the bat.

Each photograph represents either a Japanese landmark, dish, or item of cultural instance, and if you successfully spot all of the differences you're able to read a brief description of what you've just seen, as well as see it pinpointed on a map of Japan. The educational aspect of the game isn't likely to sway any customers that are on the fence about a purchase, but it's certainly not a bad thing to include.

Other aspects of iSpot Japan, however, are less than great. The main issue has to do with the photographs used, a large number of which suffer from common photography issues, such as flare, washout, or poor lighting. While we're aware that we're not here to critique the quality of this photographer's work, in the case of iSpot Japan it significantly affects the playing experience, as these issues make it tougher to spot the differences. It's quite likely, for instance, that a gamer would have noticed a missing tree in the background, if that tree were not so poorly lit that it was nearly invisible in the first place. Instead, the difference can too easily go unspotted, and that's a bit disappointing.

Another small issue is that you can only identify differences on the touch screen. For obvious reasons this makes sense from a technical standpoint, but in practice, it can be problematic. For example, in one puzzle you may have a photograph on the top screen showing a home with four windows, and on the touch screen the same home has five windows. Clearly enough, you tap the extra window. In other cases, though, the home on the top screen might have five windows and on the touch screen it has four, meaning you need to tap where the window isn't, which is always going to be an approximation and may therefore lead to a miss.

Otherwise iSpot Japan is pretty sturdy. The touch screen is responsive and the music, while repetitive, is not bad. Where it really shines, though, is the local multiplayer mode.

Multiplayer pits two players head to head. They are each shown the same puzzle, and must compete with each other to spot the differences first. This mode adds an element of urgency that's noticeably lacking in the single player mode, and the competition makes for a far more engaging experience. For any gamers who have others to play with, this mode will justify the purchase on its own.


For its price, iSpot Japan is indeed a passable time waster. It has more than its share of frustrations, but ultimately it accomplishes what it sets out to do. Those who have others to play with will find the value of the game increased substantially, but even fans of spot-the-difference puzzles who play alone will find something to enjoy.

From the web

Game Trailer

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User Comments (18)



Klapaucius said:

The photos and trivia sounds good for anyone interested in Japan (I like that description of Nebuta), which is probably a large number of DS users / Nintendo's fanbase.



Hejiru said:

Honestly, I'm getting this just for the Japanese info. I could care less about spot the difference puzzles.



bezerker99 said:

These spot the difference games have been in your local pubs and drinking establishments for years now.



KAI7321 said:

iSpot Japan. So I am guessing the Roppongi lady boys are gonna debut in this, right?



Tasuki said:

@Bezerker99: Lol thats where I was introduced to them, although like Chicken Brutus said I do remember when I was a kid kid activity books would have a spot the difference page as well.

Not familiar with DSiware since I never owned a DS other then the original DS. Can I get DSiware on the 3DS?



Noire said:

I don't see any pictures of giant mechs, tentacle monsters, or schoolgirls in sailor outfits. Are you sure this is iSpot Japan?



Jono97 said:

Before I saw DS i ware, I thought this had something to do with spotpass. lol



DemonnPrincess said:

I downloaded it finally the day before yesterday. I thought it wasn't gonna be good, and then when I saw that you can only find three to five items I was like "OMG that is gonna be WAY too easy" ...but I ate my words. XD It's actually really hard for me. And also I felt a need to buy it because I LOVE Japan and I really like reading the trivia and looking at the pictures, even if there are some locations I've already seen or some trivia I already know.

I have this. LOVE IT! Japan is so beautiful country!

@Hejiru lol Same here! XD

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