i haven’t mentioned this yet, but i’ve been the proud (?) owner of a 3DS for the past couple of months. although i’m a nintendo fanboy i’m far from being a “buy at launch” kind of person when it comes to hardware, and i was tempted to wait until the 3DS gets a redesign to fix some of the issues that people have been griping about such as the short battery life (not to mention the slim launch library). i have to admit the ambassador program is what pushed me over the edge, although i would’ve ended up getting it around this time anyway since the release of super mario 3d land is just around the corner (although it’s just too cruel that skyward sword is being released at almost exactly the same time).
anyway, although i’m intrigued by some of 3DS’s launch titles, i was perfectly content to spend my initial time just playing around with the pack-in titles. the game i ended up first exploring the most was face raiders, developed by HAL laboratory. the game provides an intro to “augmented reality” gaming, and in it you use the 3DS’s camera to take pictures of people (or yourself) who then become an army of flying helmeted enemies invading your actual current surroundings. you have to actually physically move the 3DS (and yourself) around to shoot tennis balls at them, being careful, of course, to avoid smacking into furniture.
the game succeeds in being a fun and funny diversion. the gameplay itself isn’t particularly deep and there aren’t any unlockables to speak of (except for some short diverting animations featuring your collection of faces), but it’s a good length and doesn’t overstay its welcome. it’s fun to show off (and it even has a separate “show a friend” mode that features a shorter version of the first level) and the way it adds silly expressions onto the people whose pictures you’ve taken is so novel and well done that it’s still entertaining even after you’ve been playing for a while. although the game doesn’t make much use of the 3D capabilities of the platform and its basic camera-capture functionality would have probably succeeded as well on the DSi, its use of the 3DS’s gyroscope makes for a new experience and i appreciated that its enemy-creation features work equally well with pictures from cartoons or photographs as it does from actual people. there are five levels, each featuring distinct enemies and bosses, and a final level that recaps all the levels and bosses at a harder setting (with unlimited continues thankfully). no-miss multipliers and “mouth shots” (as opposed to headshots) are needed for achieving high scores, although for most people there’s not a whole lot of incentive there since there aren’t really any unlockables. the game also includes two features that seem to be becoming standard in nintendo games, namely in-game hints or guides and the ability to take screenshots. both are unobtrusive and optional, and although a part of me still resists in-game help it really isn’t any different than getting help online so i should just get used to it. the only real complaint is that you can’t save a picture you’ve taken until you finish a stage, but this is only a minor inconvenience.
as for the 3DS itself, my impressions are cautiously optimistic. i’ve been enjoying the streetpass and spotpass features (although again the connectivity doesn’t seem like anything that couldn’t have been done on the DS), and although i’m not focused on graphics (as opposed to gameplay) in video games in general, i definitely appreciate the upgrade in graphics over the DS. i haven’t played a game for the system in which the 3-D graphics were really essential yet (mostly because i haven’t played much for the system in general yet), although there have been moments where the 3-D really did enhance the experience and it did feel new and unique. i’m not sure that it will ever approach the revolution of wii or even the original DS, but there’s no question that this is just the beginning and as its library grows this little console’s capabilities will be more fully explored and maximized.
links invading from outer space!
– entry at wikipedia
– some discussion about it on the iwata asks about 3DS feature
– short guide at IGN