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Sampling Nintendo 3DS's Built in Software

Some of the best 3DS launch games are included in the system. We try out AR Games, Face Shooting and 3D Camera at Nintendo World.

 
3DS's built-in apps were popular attractions at Nintendo World.

Some of the most impressive 3DS launch titles are built right into the system. At Nintendo World, I had a chance to try out three of the included games and apps, AR Games, Face Shooting and 3D Camera.

AR Games

"AR," or "Augmented Reality," places computer generated images into real world photographs. You make use of special marker cards to indicate the spot where you want the image to appear. 3DS includes six of these cards along with the built in "AR Games" app with some sample games.

The table and card are real, but everything is is computer generated.

The Nintendo World demo of AR Games had you place one of the cards on a table. You were then instructed to take a picture of the card, making sure you're at a precise distance. After taking the picture, an animated 3D box appears on the card.

This is where the game part begins. You have to shoot at the box and various bullseye targets that emerge from it. The targets appear on the different sides of the box, so you need to move around the table to hit everything.

The targets became more and more complex as the demo progressed, requiring that I quickly take out multiple targets one after the other. Eventually, a giant dragon popped out of the box. Rather than shooting at bulleyes, I had to shoot at regions of the dragon, which light up red when struck.

The 3D effect would occasionally get lost due to all the movement. Also it was possible to confuse the demo by moving the camera too close or losing site of the card. These were only minor issues, though. The demo was very convincing. I kept on looking over the 3DS to make sure that there was nothing more than just a flat card on the table.

I'm not sure what other forms of play will be included in the built in AR Games program, but this aiming game should be enough to get people wanting to try out the system. If you've never used AR before (I'm in this category), you might be somewhat blown away (I sure was).

The inclusion of the dragon in the demo suggests that this technology could be used in actual game environments. Nintendogs + cats is confirmed to use it to make your virtual pets play around in real environments. Perhaps other games will be able to use it for some sweet boss fights or unique level designs. This technology could bring big things to games with some clever designers.

Face Shooting

This pre-installed game is a shooting game that uses the system's camera to make your face or the face of others into an enemy.

Face Shooting with a different theme from what I played.

To begin the Nintendo World demo, I had to take a picture of my face. You can snap the picture once the system has recognized your eyes and mouth. It took a bit of playing around with the positioning for the system to give me the green light (maybe I should have shaved!), but the system was able to correctly recognize me as a "young male."

The demo transformed my face into a samurai and its minions. You have to first face off agains the attacking minions, then take on the samurai boss. The enemies come at you from all angles. To defeat them, you aim the 3DS using gyro-based pointing, and fire.

The stage of play is actually your surroundings. The 3DS's external camera picks up your surrounding environment and uses it as is as the stage. It looks like the system is dong some sort of real time video processing, as the minions were able to crash into the wall and send fragments flying at me.

This demo is full of laughs. The software is capable of modifying your face to show expressions like laughter, anger, and pouting. The minions would come at me and kiss the screen, leaving lipstick marks. When I killed the samurai, by firing bullets into its mouth, its helmet flew off, revealing a giant afro -- on my face!

Your face can be saved to a collection album. The album can store up to 40 faces.

Nintendo had the Face Shooting kiosks set up next to portraits of celebrities. If you found some spare time from shooting, you could aim at the faces for additional points. The faces are also apparently added to a collection and can be selected as enemies in future play sessions.

Because it uses your face, this demo is something you're going to want to show to your friends, especially those who don't usually play games. With the facial recognition, gyro controls and what seems to be realtime video processing, the demo is also a technical showpiece for the 3DS.

3D Camera

The 3DS has three cameras. Two are on the outside and work together to take 3D images. The other camera is on the inside and can take a 2D image. Nintendo reps guided players step by step through this demo of those three cameras.

The 3D effect is quite pronounced when taking a 3D picture, as demonstrated when the rep took a picture of me with my hand thrust out at the system. As with most of the 3DS games on display, I didn't get any sort of convincing feeling of graphics actually popping out of the system, but there was a good sense of depth to the image.

The main part of the demo showed how you can merge photos taken with the internal and external cameras. The representative took a picture of herself using the internal camera, and a a picture of me using the 3D camera. The system combines the pictures, taking face parts from the picture taken with the internal camera and hair, clothing and the surroundings from the picture taken with the external camera. I'm not sure if there's any actual blending going on.

I have to admit that I don't look all that good when merged with a hot Japanese girl, but the merging app will probably be popular when introducing the 3DS to other people. As for the photo taking app, we'll have to see if, unlike the DSi app, it's actually useful.

Fun For Free

The 3DS launch lineup isn't all that hot, but with sweet built-in software like the above, you may be able to get away with just a single game purchase to accompany your new system. The apps I tried out look like they have additional play options beyond what was demoed. Plus, the system also includes such apps as Nintendo 3DS Sound, Mii Studio, Street Pass Mii Plaza and Activity Log.

With all this built in functionality, you may end up spending much or your early 3DS time with the system's cartridge slot empty.

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