“If we win, it shall make a lot of things clear.”
This Nintendo DSi exclusive game (designated by a white cover) is an all-ages experience where you can eventually unlock more than 150 monsters among 70 playing levels set in the mysterious world of Obscura. The beginning sequence tasks you to uncover the secret behind this world, which grows less mysterious instead of building up to a great climax. This shortcoming in Foto Showdown shifts attention from the lacking game narrative to the familiar turn-based battles.
You join a volatile girl named Yuika and a calmer, more knowledgeable lass named Misa. Rival creature characters eventually reveal themselves as the basic tutorials help you advance to challenging fights and tournaments. In addition to battles, you can also regroup at the base room, visit the shop, explore options and exchange and battle through the basic multiplayer mode. This multi-card option (each player must own a copy of Foto Showdown) allows two players to trade items and battle each other. Wi-Fi capabilities for expanded multiplayer battles, leader boards and rankings would have boosted the multiplayer elements.
Obscura, capture cameras, capsule bullets, and care cards all sound intriguing, but this fighting platform eventually reveals too much familiarity and not enough originality. The game even shortchanges you on the basic functional advantages of the Nintendo DSi, like omitting the touch screen features. You can only scroll through choices by using the directional arrows…wait — not the left and right arrows, but only the up-and-down arrows.
The NDSi camera function eventually becomes the most notable gameplay element. A color recognition system puts collection control in your hands during “capture camera” sequences. The game uses an outline and crosshair visual to guide these photographic compositions, which yield the various monster types (12 in all).
Once you have captured a few monsters using this special equipment, you can add the monster to your special “deck” or release it after spending time and valuable resources. Monster releases are a pointless option that keeps you from advancing in the game. This unnecessary option, and it represents one of many noticeable weaknesses in a potentially promising game.
You can store as many as six monsters in their deck while using up to three monsters on the battle board. Shuffle through a simple number system based on the cost of each monster (on the left) and a control point system (right). For example, a “6/8” rating must increase to a nine control point total, so you can use all three monsters (costing three points each) in battle.