Last week I reviewed Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir. I was excited to play a game that relied on the AR features of the 3DS, using mechanics seen in Fatal Frame. The use of a camera to defeat ghosts is fun, so to actually have a camera made it even more appealing. Yet, as I played the game I slowly realized that the AR was limited.
The AR requires the player to play in a well lit room. It makes sense, but when I saw well lit, I mean bright as can be. If I want to use the AR at night, I have to position myself right under a lamp in order to use it. It might seem like I’m just complaining, but for a horror game like Spirit Camera, it’s rather depressing to have to play in a bright place while the images I am looking at are dark and eerie. I couldn’t feel my heart racing because I couldn’t submerge myself into the game completely.
It showed me that to create a full game that ran on the AR was possible, but not the most exciting experience.
The requirement for the position of the 3DS is also important. If you get too close or too far, the sensitive feature will phase out and you have to get back into position. This issue is noticed when playing games that use cards or books. Spirit Camera tries to get rid of this discomfort by requiring you to move the 3DS to match a circle on the book in order to unlock the features. It automatically positions you to an ideal distance, so I do give them credit for that.
If we look at the AR games that come with the 3DS, it shows the feature at its best. Simple mini games that are engaging but are only played casually and in passing. So far the AR add on features in other titles have to do with just taking pictures, and watching the characters.
It’s cool to see your favorite game characters walk around your room or blast away at things appearing from your surroundings. Still, I think that if a company really wanted to design a game that relied on AR for game play, they would have to combine it with traditional or touch screen controls as well.