3DS Game Reviews
The 3DS comes with two bundled mini-games; Face Raiders and an augmented reality game that uses the 3D cameras to detect real-world cards. Really, though, the AR game is more of a tech demo than anything – few of the cards that Nintendo supplies with the 3DS have any depth of gameplay, aside from novelty and simple shooting games. Most of the challenge comes from keeping the 3D cameras at an awkwardly consistent distance from the cards, in fact.
The effect is still fascinating, however; 3D models overlaying themselves with real-world footage captured in real-time is an impressive novelty. We just hope that game developers can build some ‘proper’ games to make use of the feature in the future.
Face Raiders, on the other hand, is possibly the scariest thing we’ve seen since our last Silent Hill 2 speedrun. This built-in minigame begins by having you take a photo of a friend, which it then projects into the game as an animated enemy. By looking through the cameras and turning on the spot you have to track and shoot down these flying, gawping heads, while bugs eat away at the background.
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Honestly, it’s not an experience we’d ever wish upon anyone. The face recognition is also revealed as being laughably bad when using Face Raiders, by the way – it insisted on identifying most of our faces as female, for example. It must have been the beards that threw it off.
Most of the 3DS launch titles that we've had a chance to play unfortunately leave quite a lot to be desired too – and we’ve tried everything from Pilotwings through to Splinter Cell 3D. The latter is especially disappointing as, while it’s impressive to see Chaos Theory running on such a diminutive device, the game itself doesn't offer a gripping 3D experience. In fact, all those blacks and greys, combined with the slow and creeping nature of the action, mean you may as well turn off the 3D effect. The camera is woefully implemented too, frequently swinging round to give the worst possible view of the action.
On the plus side, there are a few games that are more suited to the 3D format, such as Rayman 3D. Here, the illusion of depth makes a lot more sense as you guide your limbless, neckless monster from platform to platform. The game does have its fair share of errors, worst of which is an abundance of ghosting, but the controls and camera system gel seamlessly with the 3DS’ layout.
Pilotwings Resort for 3DS
Super Street Fighter IV 3D is another title which excellently shows off the 3D capabilities of the system, even though the game itself is a tad shallow and simplistic for the price. It’s all too easy to excel at SSF IV when you’ve got a touchscreen that lets you bust your special moves with a single movement. It’s still the best mobile beat-em-up we’ve ever seen, though, with lots of customisation options and even a dynamic camera if you want it. We reckon all the serious players will quickly learn to forego the distractions of the 3D effects, however.
The issue that the 3DS has is, of course, very similar to the problems faced by the older DS models – namely that most developers don’t create games that truly show off everything the platform can offer. Rayman, Splinter Cell, Street Fighter – all the games we’ve seen have mainly been ports of existing titles with a few tweaks and a new special effect. On the software front, we’re still waiting to see a title that will make the 3DS do something so unique and clever that we’d recommend the system universally.
As for the system itself, the 3D is the only feature big enough to recommend the system on – there’s little else here that’s really new other than that, other than a bit more processing power and a slightly higher screen resolution. The 3D is a neat effect, and it works far better than any other 3D gaming system we’ve seen, but it’s not at a price point or quality that makes the 3DS an essential purchase. That’s doubly true if you’ve already got an older model in the DS line.