Two of the Best 3DS Launch Games May Be the Ones That Come With the System

The two augmented reality games that come with the 3DS turned out to be some of the most fun things I played at Nintendo's New York press event. Both use the system's cameras to turn the real world into the environment for a game.

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The generically titled AR Games creates a virtual shooting gallery. An card (featuring an iconic Mario item) provides the anchor for the game to work around. Placed on a table for my demo, I then held the 3DS about 14 inches away while its recognition software identified the card. Once it did, the action started. It began innocently enough with a little box figure folding up out of the card that I needed to shoot. A set of crosshairs came up in my top screen and then I simply moved the 3DS around to line up the shot. The game uses the built-in gyroscope and accelerometer to pull this off.

As I progressed through different challenges, the game showed more of its creative potential. It created elaborate dioramas, seemingly on the table in front of me. Targets started to be scattered around, and since it's all in 3D I had to walk around the table and examine things from all sides to find them all. The tricks got more elaborate from there.

The other augmented reality game, Face Raiders, takes a similar shooting gallery approach, but this time, as the name implies, using pictures of people's faces as the targets. Either the front camera can be used to take a snapshot of someone else, or the rear facing one can take one of yourself. The alignment process is simple, with two virtual dots and a single line to be lined up to the subject's eyes and mouth respectively.

Once setup, I just started looking around holding the 3DS like a looking glass and floating balls with my face on them started appearing for me to shoot at. The game threw different patterns and groupings at me but it was the next phase that got interesting. First, the image in view would morph a little into something like a picture wall, which then had my face. This would then start breaking off in squares, and come tumbling toward me to shoot. Later, reflected shots cracked and broke holes in the background as if it weren't a picture but instead an image projected on some fragile dome. Face Raiders also remembers faces it's used before, and if it detects one in the surroundings while playing, will bring them into the game as well.

Sure, part of the appeal to both these games comes from their tech but they seemed to stand up on their own pretty well beyond that. AR Games in particular has me intrigued for the possibilities of what the designers can come up with for their virtual creations and how those might interact with the surroundings. One thing I do think is pretty certain, though, is that new 3DS owners will be showing these games off a lot when they get their system.