Wednesday 28 July 2010

All Your Face Are Belong To Us

I feel like video gaming changed whilst I wasn’t looking. I am not, and never have been, especially into video games – but I appreciate that they’re fun, and I understand how people can get into them. I just feel like I blinked for two seconds, and then I was ridiculously out of touch. I switched off my Mega-Drive and before I’d pulled the cartridge out, everyone was running PS3s, Xbox 360s, and Wiis.

I get that large part of the video game industry these days comprise games that aren’t actually “games” in the conventional sense of the word. There are virtual cookery books, supposed “brain training”, cyberpets, and all other sorts of gadgets and doo-hickeys that people can do with their (let’s face it, mostly Nintendo) consoles. It’s still playing, people are still having fun...all is happy in video game world.

But I feel the urge to speak with something approaching authority. This is because I received news of an actual “game” in actual progress created by an actual company for an actual console. That “game”, ladies and gentlemen, is being made by Nintendo, for release on 24th September on their DSi and DSi XL consoles and it is called...

Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax From Fumiko Inudo

The most healthy reaction (in case you were wondering) is a world weary “Fuck...”.

Are you looking a little stressed out lately? Then get ready to strengthen and relax up to six different areas of your face through simple, daily exercises with Face Training: Facial Exercises to Strengthen and Relax from Fumiko Inudo.

Before I received this e-mail, I didn’t know that there was even such a thing as “Face Training”. How do you train a face? What’s wrong with my face that needs training? Who is so upset with their face that they think a DSi game is going to hold the answer to all of their problems? Who at Nintendo thought this was a good idea? What were the ideas they rejected?

Why so serious?

Apparently, in much the same way that you “helped” “train” your “brain” with the Brain Training series of games, Face Training contains a series of simple exercises (presumably marketed as mini-games) to target specific areas of your face. Nintendo re-assures us that the exercises have all been “created in cooperation with Japanese Beautician & Specialist in the Muscles of Facial Expression, Fumiko Inudo”. It is reassuring then, that this game has been created under the expert guidance of someone we’ve never heard of, who’s a specialist in a field we were never aware existed.

But of course, it could be fun, with all sort of “Sorry, Mario, but the Princess is suffering from TMJ in another castle” style adventures and excitement. Check this out:

“Target the Ocular Muscle with an eye exercise that can help to ease tension around the eyes. Or try focusing on some different types of facial and neck muscles such as your Zygomaticus Major (cheek area), Orbicularis Oris (mouth area) or Trapezius (neck muscle) to name a few, which could all help you in your task to facial wellness.”.

Okay, that sounds fucking shit. Who is this aimed at, for cock’s sake? Let’s try spicing that up a little, and seeing if can’t capture the younger, hardcore gamer market.

“The Oculmar Mulcse Empire is attacking! Only you can target them with a series of eye exercises. Or focusing your forces on some different types of areas! Take off every Zygomaticus Major! Look to find the shard of the Orbicularis Oris to help rescue Princess Faical Lewslenn..”

The way the “game” works is simple, claims Nintendo. You simply put your Nintendo DSi or Nintendo DSi XL on the included stand (Presumably that’ll bump the cost up. Hooray.) and the inner camera will show a mirror-like image of you as you perform the exercises. Great. I’m going to be paying over the odds for a mirror, which I then have to mug at hilariously.

Things like this are why I hate video games. There will never, ever be a tabletop game based around exercising your face. Not until Wizards of the Coast figure out a way of making it collectible, anyway.

Of course, Face Training isn’t just content with being sanity burningly pointless. Face Training also wants to irritate your tortured soul to death. To that point, Nintendo have given life to Miles – the host of the game - who can be styled individually to your taste. Not to my taste, presumably. If I know video game “hosts”, the only way I want to see him is being brutally anally raped by Eddie from Iron Maiden.

As your virtual trainer, Miles will show the exercises on the left screen accompanied by a vocal explanation. You simply choose from a series of facial exercises and training sessions that focus on six different facial areas – eyes, cheeks, nose, mouth, jaw and neck – to find the ideal training for you. That’s the game. That’s your forty quid.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Nintendo game if it didn’t rely on some form of control gimmick. True to form the camera in the DSi detects your movements during the exercises. As a special feature you can take a photo and Miles will provide advice on that exercise. Give me a feature that’ll make him scream in terror as I point the camera at my own anus and you may have a deal.

So, how deep is this game? “more than 15 different guided exercises”. That’s less than you’d get in a fucking book.

But let’s wrap this up with a very simple question, to underline the pointlessness of this release – if such underlining is truly necessary.

Have you ever found yourself thinking “My face is really out of shape. I really wish I could train it.”?

No. Didn’t think so.

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