(3DS eShop)

Sparkle Snapshots 3D (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Sparkle Snapshots 3D Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Take a pretty picture

It’s easy to forget about all of this multi-functional nonsense and think of 3DS as an all-out gaming machine, but occasionally a new app appears to remind us that, actually, Nintendo intends for the system to offer much more. The arrival of Sparkle Snapshots 3D in the eShop is one such reminder, a camera app designed to offer far greater customisability and functionality than the default system software. If you love tweaking photos with wallpapers, wigs and silly hats, then this is exactly the kind of app to pique your interest.

It seems harsh, with consideration for the quality offered throughout, that we need to initally point out a major downside to this title. In basic terms, the presentation is heavily skewed to one particular demographic, primarily girls in their early teens or earlier — yet even these gamers may still be turned off. The moment you load the app it bombards you with pink, love hearts, flowers, happy young women posing with pink 3DS systems and an overly enthusiastic voice guiding you every step of the way. Considering Nintendo’s normal philosophy of producing experiences that appeal to people of all sexes and ages, it’s a remarkably obtuse approach. That said, we turned off the rather irritating voice and learned to live with the excessive pink-ness on display.

The main purpose of this app is to take pictures and edit them with wallpapers, borders and silly little extras, and in this respect it’s an impressive package. First of all, the technical limitations of the camera are tackled with some basic settings that affect the colour balance and lighting, all in an effort to get the best results possible. The next step is to select from a combined 72 template backgrounds, frames and mixes of the two: it’s a decent variety that also include a few Mario Bros. references, for a distinctly Nintendo touch. After those are selected you take the image with either the inner or outer cameras, with a shutter timer if necessary, and you’re on the way.

With the picture taken it’s time to dive into editing, and this is the area where the app is at its strongest. You’re initially presented with what appears to be a bewildering number of options, but there is plenty of help at hand with tutorial messages and the manual, though the best way to learn is, ultimately, trial and error. There were occasions when the interface felt crowded and we got confused about how to get to certain settings, but a few minutes of trying options and making liberal use of the undo button would normally see us through. There’s also a restart button to go back to the original image, as well as the opportunity to save progress if you’re planning to try something extravagant.

So far this is very similar to the DSiWare version, Sparkle Snapshots, but the ‘3D’ in the title does serve as the key difference. By alternating a simple setting, any stamps or drawings that you add can either be placed in the background – with the photo itself – or in the foreground with the frame that you’ve selected. The 3D effect is, like the system’s default camera, all about distinct layers of images rather than the smooth rendering seen in a typical game engine. It’s effective though, and there’s a mind-boggling range of drawing tools and styles, stamps, ribbons and images that you can use. It’s possible to make photos exceptionally silly and fun, whether that’s by adding extra images or putting a pair of glasses on a dog: the options are truly expansive. A minor complaint is that we occasionally had issues editing small areas with a brush, despite the option to zoom in, as the stylus sensitivity didn’t seem fully optimised; this wasn’t a major issue, but may be an inconvenience at times.

Overall, the editing options are of a high standard, and Nintendo’s also making use of DLC to broaden these further. At the time of writing it was possible to download two extra packs of content at 90p each: Mario Core Set and Mario Kart 7 Set. The ‘free’ category is currently empty, but the in-app setup seamlessly links into your eShop account to add funds and make the download. Whether you’re anxious enough for more Mario templates to actually pay extra is an entirely personal choice, though one disappointment is that there’s no way to preview the content before buying, making it a bit of a blind purchase.

Other areas of this app follow a similar trend of getting much right, while also making basic mistakes. One positive is that you can edit not only images taken in the software, but any photo currently on your SD card, which includes those taken on the system’s camera app: edits don’t overwrite originals, but get saved as a new image. On the downside, the options for sharing your photos are mediocre at best. It’s possible to share and view other’s pictures through local multiplayer, but each 3DS needs its own copy of the software; that’s the only way to intuitively share files between systems. If you want to post your images online or share them by email – in 2D, of course – then you’ll need to plug your SD card into a computer and remove them manually. The concept of sharing the images easily through social network accounts, or any other resource, has been skipped.

Conclusion

Sparkle Snapshots 3D get as much right as it does wrong. On the positive side it has a truly impressive range of settings and customisations for taking and editing photos, with enough assistance while using various tools for those with patience. The negatives are that the interface can be confusing at times, the DLC content is a mystery until purchased and the options for sharing witty masterpieces are extremely limited: that and the visual/audio design will be a turn off for a lot of people, of either sex. With a bit more thought and effort this app could have been fantastic, but is still worth consideration for those that can overlook its flaws.

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User Comments (29)

rjejr

#4

rjejr said:

It kind of boggles my mind that in 2012 anybody would even bother to make a downloadable photo app without a social aspect, and I'm personally about as anti-social as they come. Facebook, twitter, instagram, if the device is capable of downloading an app then it should be capable of uploading a photo. That to me is a much bigger turnoff then the interface.

tat2

#5

tat2 said:

"If you want to post your images online or share them by email – in 2D, of course – then you’ll need to plug your SD card into a computer and remove them manually."

Can't you just go to whatever site you want to upload pictures with your 3DS and and upload them directly from there? I seem do remember doing so on some occasions.

theblackdragonAdmin

#6

theblackdragon said:

@rjejr: i'm kinda torn — on one hand, i do agree that for purikura there needs to be an easy way to transfer the images from person to person, IRL they usually print as stickers you can give to your friends and whatnot. On the other hand, the target demographic for this sort of app is about seven or eight years too young to have their own Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts, so i can see why they maybe wouldn't bother with implementing direct transfers from the app.

either way, i still wish there was a printer for this sort of thing — if i could print off the images i've created with an app of this sort, i'd be much more likely to go for the app in the first place, haha.

Odnetnin

#7

Odnetnin said:

@tat2 Yeah, if they're saved as photos in your 3DS album then you should be able to just upload them to Facebook from there, for example. Twitter's mobile site doesn't let you upload photos, though, and I dunno about Instagram.

bboy2970

#9

bboy2970 said:

I got the original Sparkle Snapshots on a bit of a blind purchase but was a bit....surprised by all the pink and girly-ness. Still, it was a fun app to tool around in. I'm actually considering purchasing this. Can anyone tell me if there are a bit more tools here that aren't completely geared toward girls? The Mario stuff is a nice start but is that all? For example, the first's categories of stamps were hearts, flowers, sparkles, etc. How would that compare to the sequel?

ThomasBW84Admin

#10

ThomasBW84 said:

@Tyeforce Yep, that's a fair point, and I also agree with the comment that the web browser can, in theory, be used. I personally stay away from the 3DS web browser, as I simply don't rate it very highly, but it's certainly an option. I do still think that it's a missed opportunity to not have integration with social networks and so on in the app. I can also confidently say that even with the ability to share on Swapnote and potentially through the web browser, the score's the same. Connecting with people should be as easy as possible, and that's just an area where this app doesn't quite do enough.

@bboy2970 I reckon the options are pretty much the same, with the Mario options restricted to a background, frame, a stamp and a 3D model thing. In fact I've used all of the Mario stuff in one image cycling in the review (refresh if you can't see it). There's enough variety, overall, to have a bit of fun though, even if it is mostly flowers, hearts etc.

theblackdragonAdmin

#12

theblackdragon said:

@Tyeforce: he said "I can also confidently say that even with the ability to share on Swapnote and potentially through the web browser, the score's the same." the lack of integration apparently did not '[hurt] the score so much' for him, he just felt it was a missed opportunity that deserved a mention. :3

theblackdragonAdmin

#13

theblackdragon said:

@Tyeforce: (a) lol, if you ever notice your comment seems to have magically double or triple-posted on you, try reloading the page. that usually takes care of it for me :3

(b) as for why they both got the same score, i'd imagine it's because they're both essentially the same app — it's a very niche title aimed straight at little girls (or the stereotype thereof; not all little girls love pink and lace after all!) with a crowded interface and an annoying female voice to guide you through. yeah, there's more gender-neutral DLC, but what person who isn't so enamored with frilly pink things is going to want to wade through all that mess to find the handful of things they want when you can just as easily mess around with your photos with the much-less-potentially-embarrassing built-in 3DS Camera options? as the 6 description says, definitely do your homework, y'know? :3

btw, what improvements over the original are you seeing here? from the review, I'm not really seeing any (though I must say I'm not about to buy this version just to be able to compare and contrast, lol).

theblackdragonAdmin

#14

theblackdragon said:

@Tyeforce: and again, those people (like you) who are interested in this sort of thing will be doing their homework about this kind of app, as our chosen scores suggest, so more power to you if/when you do decide to pick it up. you're clearly interested, which is what we're recommending — anyone picking this up on a casual whim runs a real risk of being disappointed or turned off, and at that point they're left with an app they'll never use taking up space on their SD card.

I do have the DSiWare version of this, however (i'm the one who gave it a 6 here, in fact) and from Tom's review, I'm really not seeing anything to set it apart from the original as a real 'improvement' — an 'improvement' would be an option to gear this toward people who enjoy cars and planes and trucks and animals from the get-go, not force them to buy an add-on in order to get those options. you also mention 3D images, but those are only good for other people who have 3DSes (at least until 3D-screen-bearing smartphones pick up, and at that point the difference in camera quality is going to be a large issue); 3D images are useless for sharing if you're not manually sending them via local wifi or using Swapnote (which I and a good chunk of my other 3DS friends don't even use anymore because it got too out of hand) or viewing them on a 3D-enabled device (which again aren't popular or mainstream at the moment); places like 3DPorch with the constantly-moving images (when viewed on a normal screen, i guess) make me sick to my stomach tbqh. .

i'm glad you're interested, I truly am, but nothing you're suggesting is making me personally think this is worth anything more than a 6 myself, coming from the original. i thank Tom for going through the rigors to let me (and others) know that nothing has really changed about it, to be quite honest.

edit: naah, you're not coming off rude — and i do hope i'm not coming off snippy myself, lol D:

misswliu81

#15

misswliu81 said:

@TinyOddy on twitter, you can upload photos from your account by clicking on the camera icon and selecting the photo you wish to upload. i have an account there and i often post pics this way.

Magicpegasus

#16

Magicpegasus said:

I don't understand this review saying you have to share your photos online in 2D only. Couldn't you use a service like 3dporch.com to upload your photos and share in 3d?

ThomasBW84Admin

#17

ThomasBW84 said:

A cool little debate going on here, and it's actually great (genuinely) to have y'all really question and engage with the reviews we do; it kind of makes it worthwhile.

In terms of the score debate, I'd be wary of comparing a 6 of a DSiWare game in 2009 to the same score in this one, from two different reviewers. We all work hard to make the scores consistent and fair across all reviews and writers, but even if a sequel has modest improvements over an older title, it's judged by the standards of today. It won't automatically bump up because it has minor enhancements on a 3 year old title on a last-gen handheld.

In terms of the social element, as TBD has said I mentioned it as a weak area that could have been better, but there were various other factors that affected the score. The presentation, crowded interface and appalling lack of information about the DLC (it tells you nothing but the name of the pack) were all factors. On the social side, Colors is a good example in that it apparently has an inbuilt option (I don't have it, because I have zero drawing ability) to share work: even ignoring Twitter etc, something like that would have been excellent in this.

I do understand the concept of Purikura machines in Japan, but I can only approach this and review from my experience. Many, many people won't know what those machines are, and I felt the presentation was a mis-step, especially as Nintendo is renowned for incorporating diverse audiences together in experiences. I actually hadn't heard of 3dporch.com until a couple of you guys mentioned it, to be honest, but my comments about sharing photos was really all about intuitive and easy to access options: not qualities I associate with the 3DS web browser! As I've already mentioned, an inbuilt online sharing option would have been awesome as an extra, but I understand that Nintendo may have shied away from that kind of thing due to costs for moderating and hosting.

As I've said and as the score suggests though, if this kind of thing does it for you then it's well worth consideration :)

Odnetnin

#18

Odnetnin said:

@misswliu81 Right, but have you ever done it from the 3DS? I've only ever used the mobile site on my system, and even that wasn't a very pleasant experience, so I can't imagine that you'd be able to load the desktop version very well, much less upload photos for it.

That would be awesome if it was possible, though.

SuperCamMan20

#19

SuperCamMan20 said:

I've got one question: Will this magically enable me to take in-game screenshots?
If it does, I'll buy this the second it comes to North America; if it doesn't, then I really don't see even two dollars worth of value in this release.
Seriously though, it still baffles me that there is no proper way to suspend the game and save a screen shot to the SD.

ThomasBW84Admin

#20

ThomasBW84 said:

@SuperCamMan20 No, it doesn't do in-game screenshots, it just uses the inward and outward facing cameras (plus you can edit images already on your SD card).

rjejr

#22

rjejr said:

TBD - This is for people 7 or 8 years too young to use Facebook? How many 4 and 5 year olds have 3DSs? Now that I think about it, the entire interface actually is designed for people too young to own a 3DS. Well except in Japan where they probably give them as baby showers gifts.
I didn't know it worked with Swapnote so that probably is enough social interaction for a 3DS app.

DarkEdi

#24

DarkEdi said:

If i can share this photos with swapnote then it is a must-have. Is it compatible?

ThomasBW84Admin

#25

ThomasBW84 said:

@DarkEdi Photos from the app are saved in the same place as any other photo on the 3DS, so they can easily be attached to Swapnote messages.

Ren

#26

Ren said:

if only someone would make a competent 3d video editor for 3DS. The built in thing is ridiculous since nothing can be saved as it's edited or even trimmed.

Nibelilt

#27

Nibelilt said:

I might get it, but I haven't checked if it actually came out yet.

Can't wait to spam Swapnotes of image edits :D

Gioku

#29

Gioku said:

It seems rather powerful, though; you made some amusing images with it!

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