Smile Training

A new game for the Nintendo DS handheld machine helps players exercise their facial muscles to create nicer smiles and livelier expressions. AP Photo/Nintendo Co.

A new game for the Nintendo DS handheld machine helps players exercise their facial muscles to have nicer smiles and livelier expressions.

"Face Training" comes with a digital camera that fits into the dual-screen machine to show live video of the player's own face on the right screen while an animation of a woman's face illustrates
exercises on the left screen. The game went on sale last week in Japan.

The 16 types of exercises called "facening," designed by beauty expert Fumiko Inudo, take about two to 10 minutes each to complete. Nintendo Co., the Kyoto-based maker of Pokemon and Super Mario games, recommends playing "Face Training" no longer than 15 minutes at a time to avoid overexerting face muscles or getting them "out of balance."

In addition to the animation that serves as a model for players, an electronic voice like an aerobics instructor guides you to twist your mouth, drop your jaw, wink, glare at the ceiling and do other moves to tighten flabby cheeks and develop that bright-eyed look.

"Open your mouth slightly, one, two, three, four," the machine will say in one exercise.

Company spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa says the game is also entertaining because players end up making funny faces in the name of a better-toned countenance.

"It certainly perks your curiosity, doesn't it?" Minagawa said. "The success of games is usually a question of how to engage people's feelings."

The new game is part of Nintendo's efforts to appeal to a wider audience, including women. Nintendo has scored success with its drill-like games, such as "Brain Age."

Nintendo's Wii home console, which comes with a wandlike remote control that has people playing virtual tennis and other sports, is also doing well, selling nearly 9.3 million worldwide since it went on sale seven months ago.

The "Wii Fit" game, planned for later this year in Japan and next year in the U.S., offers a workout with a virtual hula hoop and yoga with a wireless plastic mat.

  • Carol Kopp

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