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GBA

North America

Nyko WormCam

by Mike Hrusecky - December 17, 2002, 1:54 am PST

2

Want to enter the world of digital photography? You won't want to do it with the Nyko WormCam.

Some other recent hardware reviews of the past, including the Monster Game (Monster Cable) GAMELINK GC 300 S-Video cable and the Altec Lansing XA3021 2.1 Speaker System, went into a good deal of product depth and practical comparisons. Sadly, the review for the Nyko WormCam for the Game Boy Advance won’t be getting quite the same kind of treatment.

I honestly can’t say that the WormCam is serious hardware. It’s a toy, and not a very useful one for any practical applications. As a $40 (U.S.) digital camera, you’re getting what you pay for considering that real, modern entry-level digital cameras run in the neighborhood of $150.

Basic Features:

  • Stores 20 photos.

  • Saves and deletes pictures.

  • Backup battery saves pictures when the GBA’s power is off.

  • Upload pictures to your PC with included cable.

  • Basic built-in editing features.

  • SpyCam feature takes timed photos automatically.

Computer Software Requirements:

  • Windows 95 or higher.

  • 3 MB of Hard Drive space.

  • 16-bit color or better.

  • DB9 Serial Port.

  • CD-ROM Drive

The Nyko WormCam is an accessory that turns the Game Boy Advance into a digital camera and picture editor. The unit stores up to 20 low-resolution photos that you can edit on the GBA (basic lines, shapes, text, and picture flipping) and download to your PC using the included cable and software. The cable connects to a standard serial input on the back of your computer. The unit draws power from the GBA, but includes a battery to save your photos while the GBA is turned off.

The WormCam includes some features to improve the quality of your photos... I guess. They include a sun filter to cover the lens during bright, outdoor photo shoots, lighting options (Bright, Normal, Dim, Low) based on whether you are indoors or outdoors, and manual zooming for objects that are near or far.

While toying with these settings does result in improved results, that is not saying much at all as the picture quality and resolution of 182x142 are basically a joke. The built-in editor, which allows you to add text and do basic drawing, is a nice touch, but the GBA’s lack of a backlight and its small screen makes photo editing a real chore to accomplish.

Installing the included PC software and connecting the WormCam to the PC is fairly simple. Once you have your photos as you want them, you connect the included serial cable to the camera and computer. First, prompt the WormCam to connect to the PC. Then, initiate the PC software to connect to the camera. The photos will download to the computer, and then you can browse all of them at once on your computer. If you want to save them to your hard drive, the software gives you the option of 3 resolutions to save them in – 182x142, 320x250, and 640x500. Unfortunately, the photos were already taken and saved in the WormCam, presumably at 182x142, so selecting any other option will simply stretch the original photo out, making the quality look even worse.

The WormCam lacks a flash, and even though it has a “Low” light setting for indoor use, most any photo taken indoors without a considerable light source on it is trash. The resulting photos are always saturated with a green or gray haze, rendering the pictures useless and barely discernable, if at all. See the WormCam Profile page for the photos I took while testing the unit, using the recommended settings for each instance. The results speak for themselves. Of the 20 photos taken with the camera, these 6 samples are the best of the bunch. What more needs to be said?

The camera also lacks a viewfinder, so you have to aim and hope that you’re actually capturing the object you’re trying to shoot and not cutting anybody’s head off.

There’s not much that can be said about the Nyko WormCam and software. For $40, you’re much better off buying a GBA game or two than trying to enter the world of digital photography. The WormCam is nothing but a toy, and doesn’t even really pass for that.

Whether it should even really be on the market is questionable. There are computer webcams on the market for half the price that offer picture quality far greater than Nyko’s GBA accessory. Nyko should have opted for a more viable solution, even if it meant increasing the cost of the unit and reducing battery life.

Consumers should absolutely wait for Nintendo's own camera coming in 2003.

Score

Appearance Comfort Quality Value Construction Final
8 0 1 7 1 2
Appearance
8

The silver Nyko WormCam mounts the GBA and uses the extension port on top. The lens can be flipped upside down (to take pictures of yourself) or it can obviously face forward. It’s fairly stylish considering its small size.

Comfort
0

N/A

Quality
1

The photos taken by the WormCam fail to impress in almost all circumstances, with the exception of extremely well-lit, indoor rooms or when used outdoors on bright, sunny days. Even in best case scenarios, photos lack color, detail, and practical resolutions. The PC software is adequately functional, and the extras like the photo editor were nice touches, but giving a frail car a shiny coat of paint doesn’t make it run any better.

Value
7

The camera seems to be constructed well and tolerates pressure against its body. The zooming has to be done manually by turning the lens, which is actually difficult to do – you can hurt your fingertips a lot trying to adjust it, so users might just be compelled to leave it on the default “middle” setting.

Construction
1

$40 will get you a GBA game or two value-priced GameCube games. Almost any GBA or GameCube title on the market will give you more entertainment and value for your money.

Final
2

The Nyko WormCam is an insufficiently powered and poorly engineered accessory that ultimately equates into little more than a gimmick. Given that value-priced webcams are available on the market for as little as $20-30 and offer better brightness, color, resolution, and overall quality, the WormCam offering is an inexcusable counterfeit. Nyko should have accepted the power requirements of an adequately powered digital camera and pursued a more effective solution, even if it meant offering it at a higher price point and a lower battery life. Consumers should absolutely wait for Nintendo's own camera coming in 2003.

Summary

Pros
  • Adequately functional PC software.
  • Offers basic picture editing options.
Cons
  • Camera is underpowered and virtually useless.
  • No flash.
  • No viewfinder.
  • Resolution options only stretch already low-quality photos.
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre
Developer Nyko

Worldwide Releases

na: Nyko WormCam
Release Dec 02, 2002

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