I am just gonna start out this review with a warning: this game is dumb. It is silly, corny, awkward and embraces every part of it. And I love it for doing so. This questionable DSiWare game, was one me and my friends at college had way too much fun with by making fools out of ourselves and we never got tired of it, strangely enough. Let me introduce you to a game that makes me love creativity. Despite how dumb it can be.
Pose your attacks
This odd title is a fighting game where you make your own fighter by taking pictures which the game will turn into animation-frames. Making a character will require you to take photos of every pose, including punch, kick, walk-animation, combat-stance, crouch, staggered, jump, taunt, fireball-motion, victory-pose, the fireball itself, and portraits for losing and the character select screen. After that, you will have to record voices for everything as well. The process can be long, but entertaining if you let go of yourself and just be silly. There is a generous mode for doing it alone with the DS standing on its own, though it is way easier with a friend to help you out.
All characters you can make will have a punch, kick, and a fireball-attack, with jumping and ducking also being possible. All these moves are done with a combination of one attack-button and/or pressing a direction. There is no option for defending, so the game provides constant action at the cost of being a bit mindless. After making your character, you must choose between four different types of fighting-moves with each having one special move that can be performed with down and attack, and one special they can perform after taking tons of damage and pressing the taunt-button on the touch-screen. Kung Fu gives a flash kick and the desperate move spinning kick, Mystic can throw three fireballs at ones and has a desperate which calls down a giant meteor, Feral has a body slam and a spinning ball as desperate, and lastly, Crusher can throw multiple punches and grow giant when desperate. These feel decently balanced as you can avoid attacks as long as you remember how to.
For the lonely wolf, there is a singleplayer option, where you are set in a one-plane beat ‘em up and must beat100 characters, who usually die in a few hits. These will be characters you have created, with small and giant versions also being present. They are not too aggressive, which is good as you might fight three or four at once and with such a simple moveset, not much is needed. What is a shame, is that all will have the Feral-style of attack, making it lacking in diversity. It is beatable in five minutes and you will get a rank that depends on the time it took and how much health you have at the end.
This is about it, however, with a few extras I want to come back to later. It is not incredibly much, but what it offers is genuinely fun and entertaining. Though like any fighting game, you will need friends to get most out of it, and with that, comes a lot of engaging and silly characters to make. The appeal will also stay depending on the humor you provide, though Photo Dojo showcases it does not want to be anything more. Though a few more fighting-styles and attention could have gone a long way, it provides its silly humor through its character-creation and you.
Gameplay Score: 8/10
Photography with the DS-camera
Using the DS Camera is not great as it is low quality and the stages you make will just recycle when it is used for the singleplayer option, but it is serviceable as long as the lighting is considered. Characters can have huge outlines however, so an option to cut edges would have been nice, even if hitboxes would have been off. On the other hand, the mic picks up the audio with good quality and makes it easy to record clear voice-overs.
The overall presentation has a low-budget appeal, which adds to its charm. The static flames and a startup-screen that changes depending on fighters, just shows how little the game wants you to take it seriously, and I applaud it for that. It would be nice if I could have more options for music or use my own, but what is here is serviceable if generic. Each stage can have a Rock-piece, an electro track which is more reminiscent of the Genesis twang than anything, a dramatic piece which is electro mixed with a choir, and the unlockable edit-theme which is a silly piece with duck-like sounds accompanying it. It is not really visually pleasing, but depending on your creativity, it can be hilarious for all the right reasons.
Presentation Score: 6/10
VS using a single handheld
Yes, you use a single system for VS-matches, with each player holding a part of the system, with face-buttons functioning as D-pad and L/R as attacks. It is awkward, but enjoyable as it keeps to the tone of Photo Dojo by not being serious and making you too close to your opponent. More options could have gone a long way, but there will always be something pulling you back, as long as you have silly humor and some good friends.
Extra Score: 7/10
Photo Dojo is not deep, immersive or a fighting game I would outright recommend. However, it fills me with such joy just by its share premise and I love the developers for making this game. It makes me smile every time I play it and I bet it will make you smile if you are willing to let yourself get into it and have some open-minded friends. Hopefully, with technology improving as fast as it does these days, a follow-up could provide even more options for customization and a better camera, but for what we have, it is wonderful even if dated and lacking. So beautifully dumb.