Video games are getting more and more inventive these days. I have to admit after playing LittleBigPlanet nothing surprises me anymore, yet this new addition to the DSi line-up of downloadable games has managed to light up a new flame. Rather than a game, it’s an application, but a darn good one, especially for those who have enough creative juices flowing.
I, for one, used to create animations on Adobe Flash, so I’m glad to see a user-friendly app for the DSi that allows you to do similar things. It’s like a mini YouTube with animations instead of videos. I had been very frustrated lately with the DSiWare downloads available, mostly due to the massive amount of Brain Age Express and Art Style releases, but luckily, here’s one new thing that makes the DSi worthwhile.
When you open the program, you have the option to create a new Flipnote, view an existing one from either your memory card or your system’s memory, or view other users’ creations in Flipnote Hatena. This latter option is not part of Flipnote Studio, but it complements it really well, as it allows users to publish their own animations and get them rated by other people once they get an ID. Being able to see other users’ work is also very inspiring. It’s amazing what people can do with a simple program, a touch screen, and a stylus! Should we add the term “free time” to the formula?
In any case, Flipnote Studio is very simple to use and most people will quickly get the hang of it. In order to create a new note, you just hit “Create Flipnote” and start drawing. If you tap the little frog icon, which by the way makes a cute froggy sound, the menu will show up. Alternatively, you can just hit the “up” button on the D-pad. Different options are mapped to the DSi buttons, which makes things really easy, but if you want to go more in-depth and change some of the settings, edit frames, or use pictures and sounds, you need to enter the menu mentioned above. Here, you can select multiple drawing and fill brushes, erasers, and one of three colors. Also, you can pick black or white paper, and the light-box effect, which makes each page transparent so when you’re drawing on the next page, you can see what you drew in the previous one and follow along with it.
In addition to these features, you can change the settings. That way, when you start a new page, it’ll make a copy of the previous one. This makes it easy, so you can just tweak a little something on the new frame and move on to the next one. If you go to the frame menu, you can also manipulate frames in different ways – you can move them around, insert new ones, copy and paste existing ones, etc. Changing the animation speed also helps to get the desired effects.
One cool and useful option is to employ previously saved pictures to create your animations. However, if you want a new picture, you have to exit out the program and go to the DSi’s Picture Studio in order to take it, which is somewhat impractical. Some more integration with the other DSi features such as the Picture and the Sound Studio would have been nice. Also, you don’t get to use a picture exactly, but rather a black and white version of it with different shade options you can tweak by adjusting the sliders. Either way, by using existing photos instead of starting from scratch, users can create very neat Flipnotes.
If you want to add sound to the animation, Flipnote Studio allows you to insert up to three short sound clips and a longer one for background music or whatever you can think of. These sounds are recorded directly from the program, which is very convenient. However, it would have been nice to be able to access previously recorded notes from the Sound Studio, since that program allows you to tweak speed and pitch, and even add sound effects. That’s something Flipnote Studio doesn’t offer, and it would have been really nice to have.
You can easily save your creations onto the SD card or the DSi’s memory, and you can even export them into animated .gif files that can be seen on your computer and uploaded to the Internet once you paste them into your hard drive. I bet soon enough people will start posting them on MySpace or using them as forum avatars! Additionally, you’ll be able to send and share your animations with friends using the DSi’s local connection. You can lock the file so they can only view it, or you can let them modify it, allowing them to be part of the creation and cooperate.
Apart from the issues I mentioned about lack of integration with the Picture and Sound Studio (and the lack of other colors), there isn’t much to complain about. The program has a neat and user-friendly interface, it helps to promote creativity, and best of all, it’s free, so what else can you ask for? Head on over to the DSiWare section of the DSi Shop and download it today to see for yourself. We can’t wait to see what else people can make, including you! Just a little tip for beginners: check out Flipnote Hatena first (the green button when you open Flipnote Studio); you’ll be able to see multiple examples created by other users, all of them classified in different categories, and they should give you an idea of what you can do and how to do it.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
Flipnote Studio has a very neat and streamlined visual style that’s pleasing to the eyes and helps you focus on the task at hand: creating. 4.0 Control
Main functions are mapped to the handheld’s buttons, which is quite useful. If you want more advanced options, simply go to the menu. Easy enough! 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Froggy sound effects are overwhelmingly cute, and the ability to record your own sounds is nice, though it’s missing a built-in sound editing feature. 4.5
Like any social network activity, this is here to last. It’s a new form of expression for creative people, and creating animations is so easy that soon there’ll be millions of Flipnotes in Hatena’s database. Fun stuff!
4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.