Tony Black reviews the Famicam64 Retro Camera…
It’s quite unusual for me to review an iOS app, but I couldn’t resist getting my hands on this one. The Famicam64 is going to appeal to anyone who enjoys gaming, and specifically if you’re old and craggy enough like me to remember what is now called ‘retro’ gaming from the 1980’s & 1990’s. So what does it do? Well, like any good filter on your Instagram’s and such, the Famicam allows you to snap a picture of anything through its camera filter and ultimately emulate the style of retro computers and games from the era of MegaDrive’s, SNES’s, old VGA graphics cards for PC, and so forth. It has a bunch of applications, so let’s break them down.
Taking a picture is quick and simple enough, presented in the blocky, retro style of the early Gameboy era, and immediately the filter will render it in that old fashioned nostalgic texture. You can walk away with that as your snap, if you really want to. For the purposes of this review, I took a snap of my new DC Rebirth comics, and here’s what they look like taken by the Famicam without any alteration:
Once you’ve snapped your pic, you have options. On the bottom of the app, retro icons do a range of things. An arrow can return you to the camera, deleting the picture automatically. An old Windows file folder denotes a save option for you to store your images on your phone. An eye allows you to preview the image without icons and a retro floppy disc brings up your share option, whereby you can AirDrop, iMessage, add to Notes, save as a PDF to iBooks, or upload to your social media app of choice. The top bar, however, is where it gets interesting. These are your extra filters and they’re packed with options.
The wand option to your far left is the FX Buffer, and this allows you to add specific filters which correspond to lots of retro styles, from VGA, EGA, GCA bases, NES, Gameboy, C64 and even recreations of iconic games such as Asteroid or Tennis for Two. Filter gains and reductions for different light, texture and distortion options change for each different filter choice, giving you even more options. I went for Oscilloscope to demonstrate how the original image changed below:
Clicking next on the pencil icon allows for a change in colour texture, and by clicking on the little green monster image in the middle, you bring up the Sprite menu and here are hundreds of possible options for adding retro sprites to your image, of everything from old fashioned text-like emoticons, to items from a wealth of games such as swords or guns, costumes and items, a range of monsters and even certain characters people may recognise. These sprites are moveable once added around the image, and you can add as many as you like; plus you can rotate and either enlarge or shrink them by just pulling the touch screen with your fingers, allowing you to incorporate them whether taking pictures in portrait or landscape.
Below, on the original image, I added examples of each of the choices:
Next, in the multi-coloured screen image, you can add Translucent Overlays which are the most recognisable adaptation from Instagram. There are 18 choices here, all of which render the image in a brand new filter, anything from a scratched screen to the original video game box-set replication from the era, to specific styles from games. My favourite, by far, is adding the SCUMM engine from LucasArts and while that doesn’t work in landscape, it’s a great addition in portrait if you’re a fan of the Monkey Island-era of games.
Lastly you can add text to the image, with the font in the traditional retro style of old console gaming text, which just sets off the image and sells the entire product. The Famicam64 ultimately is a fun alternative to Instagram for the retro gamer, wanting to send pictures which reflect the era of gaming they love, with lots of built in winks and nods to classic gaming, and plenty of options which allow you to give all of your snaps a fun, geeky overlay.
If you’re a gamer, what are you waiting for?