Review by horror_spooky

"Welcome to a whole new dimension of gaming!"

Finally, it's here. After a staggering six plus years and selling over 145 million units, Nintendo has finally decided to retire their dominant seventh generation handheld and usher in the eighth generation with a brand new system. The Nintendo 3DS has launched around the globe, and while there are a slew of launch titles covering a variety of genres, the 3DS also comes built-in with software.

One of the more unique abilities of the 3DS is Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality uses the cameras on the 3DS and the special AR cards that come in the system's box to display objects on the screen, making them appear like they are in your living room! For example, by putting the Mario AR card on your kitchen table, you can project the legendary plumber himself on your kitchen floor. He can then be manipulated into different poses, moved around, and pictures can be taken of him from any angle imaginable. That goes for all the other character-based AR cards, which are comprised of Link, Samus, a group of Pikmin, and Kirby. It's also possible to project any Miis on your 3DS on the “?” AR card.

The “?” card is the main card used for the AR Games software that this review is covering. Right when the game is booted up, the card is scanned by the 3DS camera, and a yellow box creature pops up. The game then requires players to shoot the box over by firing at the front, which means players may need to adjust their positioning. Moving around and looking at this box creature from different angles is really cool. AR Games is what the go-to title to show your friends just what the 3DS is capable of.

Anyways, after the box creature is knocked down, there are six different mini-games available that use this spiffy new Augmented Reality tech. I've already covered two of the games, which are photo shoot mini-games involving the other AR cards and Miis. The other mini-games are archery, shot, graffiti, and fishing.

Archery is essentially target practicing, aiming the 3DS at different targets, leading up to a boss fight with a fire-breathing dragon. Shot is similar to archery in that it also features a boss fight with a dragon, but it's a lot more like a combination of pool and golf. Players have to position a stick to knock a ball into a hole with a single shot in this mini-game. Graffiti is way more interesting than either of those, however.

In graffiti, players can draw anything they want, and can then control their creations. I drew a stick person and it was a blast making him run around on my desk, jumping over stuff. It's good old simple fun. This graffiti mode is a ton of fun to just mess around with, and I found myself enthralled with it for extended periods of time. I probably played graffiti more than any of the other AR mini-games.

Lastly is the fishing mini-game. It's really simple, but it manages to show off the 3DS's motion control capabilities. The 3DS has a built-in gyroscope for tilt functionality and other motion control capabilities as well, in case you were unaware. This fishing mini-game requires players to shake their 3DS to cast out their line, and then wait for a fish to bite. After a fish takes the bait, flicking the 3DS quickly in an upward motion brings them to the surface. Simply put, it's neat.

Well, that covers it for the AR Games. While there isn't enough content here to warrant hours and hours of gameplay, AR Games comes with the system and manages to show off the capabilities of the 3DS well, in terms of the camera, Augmented Reality, and the motion controls. However, one area where AR Games falters is the gimmick that the system is built around: the 3D.

The 3D in AR Games is much more detrimental to the experience than anything. Since AR Games like archery and shot require players to get up and move around, the “sweet spot” for the 3D is extremely hard to maintain. This leads to headaches and eye-straining, believe me. It's probably best to play AR Games with the 3D completely off because staying in the sweet spot and immersing yourself into these mini-games at the same time just isn't a possible feat. And while the tech certainly does work and it's really impressive, there were plenty of times that I had to stand completely still so the 3DS could rescan the card. Still, these are minor complaints and AR Games is still really fun and cool.

AR Games shows off many of the capabilities of the 3DS very well. While the 3D effect is more detrimental than anything to AR Games, the motion controls, the camera, the Augmented Reality almost make up for it. The potential for this software in the future is limitless, and hopefully Nintendo and other developers don't drop the ball in what could very well be the next big step in gaming. The eighth generation here, and so far, the future is looking bright.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/04/11

Game Release: AR Games (US, 03/27/11)


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