Foto Frenzy
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2009-12-06 Nintendo DS Puzzle E (Everyone) Storm City Games

Foto Frenzy is a fairly basic "spot-the-differences" title in the same vein as QuickSpot, which was released by Namco a couple of years ago. As is expected of such titles, the game uses the DS's dual screen layout to present two versions of a photograph, and asks you to spot the five differences between them. These differences could be a lack of one detail on the top that is present on the bottom version, or vice versa.

The game plays through an accumulation of stages, split into numerous levels. The pictures are apparently easier in the beginning, "Rookie" levels, but whether or not that holds true depends on your definition of the word "easier."

While playing through the main game mode, each level is timed and contains a very limited amount of time available for searching (while I didn't time it, I'd say a minute is an accurate guesstimate). Gameplay itself is incredibly simplistic: just tap on a difference and it will be circled. The bottom of the touch screen is reserved for your hint bar, with hints being (seemingly) randomly thrown your way - these hints allow for you to instantly find a difference, which is especially helpful when you have but a few seconds to complete a level and you've already found the four other differences.

While, intuitively, it might be just as easy to haphazardly tap all over the screen until you've found them all, the game accounts for this outcome by slashing a large chunk of time from the countdown for every mistake you make. While this wouldn't be a factor at all for those who only tap when they are positive they've found a discrepancy, the game frequently registers a single tap as two, so even though you have registered the discovery of a difference, you've also lost a bit of time due to the glitch.

The difficulty of the title is only compounded by the style of the pictures themselves. While under any other circumstances, the photographs would be quite visually appealing (some look like they were torn from the pages of National Geographic), most are simply far too detailed, resulting in a very blurred appearance now that they've been converted to such a small size.

The less complex a picture is, the easier the differences are going to be to spot; however, any success you manage to attain in these easier levels is immediately erased in the next, as your failure sends you back to the beginning of the sequence. That is, there is no checkpoint system here - it's all or nothing - you either complete the series or you don't. Kind of like choosing whether to complete the game - you either torture yourself, or you show mercy on your sanity.

If you choose the former, and you somehow fluke your way to the end of a series, you're met with a sliding puzzle and another very short time limit to complete it. Additionally, you also unlock access to the stages that you've completed via the game's custom mode setup. Again, though, only those that are true glutens for punishment would ever get that far.

With Foto Frenzy, Storm City Games has tried to create a new take on an established gameplay formula (as seems to be a running theme with the company), but where their other offerings have been at least passable, Foto Frenzy is a downright infuriating waste of time.