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Nintendo 3DS: Futuristic Handheld, Retro Battery

Augmented Reality: AR Cards and Face Raiders

One of the marquee features of the 3DS is its use of Augmented Reality (AR) in gameplay. There are two AR games that ship installed on the 3DS: AR Cards and Face Raiders.

Face Raiders is a pretty simple shoot ‘em up game with one fairly large AR twist. You start by taking photos of your face, as well as your friends and coworkers. Those faces are then grafted onto small, helicopter-powered spheres that you need to destroy (or in some cases, rescue). Using the cameras on the back of the 3DS, the level is…well whatever room you happen to be playing in. The spheres can break through the walls of the level, which exposes a black space of sorts (it’s all very Langoliers-ish). The level is 360-degrees, meaning you actually have to turn yourself and the 3DS around to see what’s behind you (thanks to the accelerometer and the gyroscope). Face Raiders is only six levels, but for a free game that (in a very odd manner) involves your friends, it’s both creative and fun.

AR Cards work in the same way – using your own environment as the level. Nintendo includes a pack of AR Cards with every 3DS, and these cards serve as the foundation for the level. You simply aim your 3DS cameras at the card, and after a few seconds of calibration, the game begins. The first card we used, which had a picture of a Mario Bros. Question Block on it, turned out to be an archery game. Moving around the desk where the card was placed, we had to hit different archery targets to complete each level, with the boss being a giant dragon with targets all over his body. There are six cards in all, each with its own kind of game, and we’re positive Nintendo will start selling new packs of cards as time goes on.