System Flaw (DSi retail release in the US, DSiWare in Europe under the name of System Flaw: Recruit) from Enjoy Gaming and Visual Impact Studios showed the world how the Nintendo DSi external camera could be used to bring a gaming experience into the real world. For its price-point, though (500 Nintendo Points, US$29.99), it proved to be very limited overall. Virus Shooter XX is due for release in Japan this year on 3DS and hopes to expand on the formula, yet for now Nintendo has taken the idea and crafted it into a fun little free product that is actually included in the Nintendo 3DS hardware when purchased. Cubed3 blasts off in this review of Face Raiders.
The basic aim of Face Raiders is to not only shoot your face repeatedly, but also to blast those of your friends, family and even complete strangers into total oblivion. Sounds extremely unlike Nintendo, right? Well, the aim is not to have blood and brains all over the screen! Instead Nintendo has made it so that the floating heads are only spun around when hit, and that any ‘bullets’ are merely silver flying globes that bounce around, whilst the attacking ‘evil’ beings that charge at the screen with their crazy facial expressions simply use comical pink lipstick kisses in order to reduce the energy bar or throw round objects back in your direction. There is no actual story in the game, nor any major nefarious villain to overcome in order to save the world, yet there is not any real need, and Face Raiders has plenty of replay value even without a story to follow, plus it has a whole host of variety to keep the action extremely engaging, as well as being far more than a mere mini-game that will be ignored after a short time.
Before diving right into the mix, players are asked to line up the on-screen markers found on the upper 3DS screen with the eyes and mouth of the person they wish to include in the game, at which point the 3DS will use its facial recognition software to distinguish the sex and age of said individual, snapping their mug-shot with the outer cameras and morphing it into a 3D polygonal object (the recognition is not always 100% accurate, though, which could cause much distress if a young woman is identified as an old man, for instance!). Alternatively, there is the option to use a previously stored face, which can be edited if needs be beforehand, for use in the game. All of the previously saved faces are kept under a separate option, appropriately called ‘Face Collection,’ in which something called the ‘UFO Crew’ also resides - a tiny flying saucer that snatches images taken and saved in the 3DS internal memory for use in the various stages of Face Raiders (either turning up as enemies, or being faces that you can rescue during the shooting action).
Jumping into the main game itself, players must work their way through the handful of stages on offer, actively moving the Nintendo 3DS system a full 360-degrees in order to point the reticule at the on-coming heads, knocking them from whence they came with a short, sharp bop from the silver-grey ball shots you emit when tapping the ‘A’ button. As one particular level is completed more open up, and Face Raiders even requires that certain criteria are met before some areas are unlocked. There are four objectives in the standard ‘Play’ mode, along with two bonus stages, whilst the ‘Share the Fun!’ mode, where the aim is to show the game to a friend, has two proper levels to tackle and a special extra.
Levels are made up of numerous tasks, be it shooting down row after row of flying faces before they slap their shiny balls in your face (...) (thus adding cracks to your facial shield), avoiding large mines emblazoned with purple crosses that rip holes in the real world (leaving a void of outer space behind and part of 'your world' breaking apart and flying towards your face to cause extra damage), or attacking the correct face (two versions of one face are shown at the start, and the game indicates which should be shot at, with an incorrect hit leading to more 'balls-in-face' shenanigans). Instead of an endless blast-a-thon, some real thought has gone into the construction of levels, with a smart points acquisition system in place for sharp shooters. Even the bonus stages, where faces must be shot repeatedly in order to keep them from dropping into the abyss, are well thought out. On top of this, whenever stuck or unsure how to unlock a level, a quick press of the ‘Y’ button on the level select screen brings up tips that provide a little guidance on how to open the game completely, as well as how to achieve the highest scores on each stage. Additionally, Face Raiders encourages players to make the best use of the surroundings, pointing the 3DS at various coloured objects around the room to see what effects they have during the action (normally energy-replenishing butterflies appear that must be shot to boost your energy bar), or to move the external cameras in front of a new face that will automatically be slotted into the action and added to the overall Face Collection compendium.
Rather than leaving the ‘Share the Fun!’ mode redundant, Nintendo attempts to lure completists in by having them only able to unlock all the stages there by also playing everything and making use of external features, such as the regular 3DS photo studio’s image merging ability that melds two faces together into one usually hideous-looking beast of a person. Everything about Face Raiders screams ‘Show me off!’ with Nintendo keen to have as many people as possible try out the title. Supporting this ethic, there are plenty of opportunities for snaps to be taken, either during an actual stage, upon defeating an end-of-level boss, or even via the ‘Sneaky Snaps’ option that grabs shots at random points during play.
The music may not seem like an integral part of what makes Face Raiders enjoyable, yet the funky, energetic main theme tune, with its synthesiser beats impresses, as does the laid-back Brain Training-esque menu selection music, and the host of grunting and groaning sound effects also showing Nintendo has not merely churned out some cheap and meaningless effort. Face Raiders is full of comical moments, with wacky sounds, enemies that sprout afros when their energy has depleted, and a whole host of weird and wonderful facial expressions for the photo-captured images that show why Faceez really was not worth spending money on (after all, the crazy faces can be captured using the ‘Free Camera’ functionality of the 3DS that allows for photographs to be taken anywhere). Nintendo definitely could have happily charged money for something as well put together as Face Raiders, yet instead the company has included it to help make the Nintendo 3DS even more of a worthwhile purchase.
Accurate image capture functionality, impressive background colour recognition for gameplay changes, clever use of real life surroundings and a great selection of varied objectives for each mission shows that Nintendo did not simply rush this out as a mere ‘tech demo.’
The visuals themselves may well be rather basic 3D globes floating around, but the way the real-life surroundings are used (and destroyed!) is wonderful and the camera facial recognition is brilliant.
There is a wide range of different tunes available, from cheesy music to frenetic beats and even fairground-style affairs, all resplendent in their implementation, accompanied by comical effects and vociferous noises.
Remember that again, Nintendo is offering Face Raiders free with the Nintendo 3DS, and considering it holds far more replay than similar ideas released at retail, it is hard to find fault with this.
Face Raiders would have been a superb release on the 3DSWare eShop store, yet Nintendo has decided to include this fantastic piece of software completely free of charge with every Nintendo 3DS unit. Making great use of the internal and external cameras, as well as containing some extremely clever use of the real world for the game’s enjoyable missions, Face Raiders is a massive success on every front.
What sort of variety is there per level? Sounds better than crappy System Flaw and its constant grinding noises as you move around!!
I'm pleased with the amount of content Nintendo has included in this, given that it's free with the 3DS.
The first level is dead simple, with a few heads floating around that you must swivel around and shoot. Then you have instances where you need to bit more vigilant about where you're shooting, since hitting the spiky purple mines break your surroundings (thus causing more damage as stones flies at you).
There's quite a bit of variety for boss fights as well, with the last battle being quite difficult indeed...it involves a nice bit of strategy to defeat without dying. I don't want to spoil the surprise, though. Nothing major, but it's still good to let players discover some stuff for themselves
Sounds pretty cool! I was one of the mugs that fell for buying System Flaw Regretted that. Liking this - another good reason to buy 3DS then?
Definitely! There's a tennis-like battle (similar to with Ganondorf in Zelda) where you must knock an orange ball back towards a captured face inside a tennis racquet...yet if you miss the ball and simply fire at the racquet, more balls fly your way.
Also, there is an instance where a large square appears, broken into smaller blocks that must be hit separately to get the right combination to unlock another face.
So to Amethyst, or anyone else that perhaps misconstrued my lack of potential spoiler detail in the main review as meaning Face Raiders is limited, please be aware that it certainly is not
System Flaw, Ghost Wire and Virus Shooter XX are the three examples of this sort of Augmented Reality-style game that I can think of, and Face Raiders trumps the first two releaes, whilst I'd be surprised if VSXX improves upon the formula when it hits Japan later this year.
AND IT'S COMPLETELY FREE!
The best game to come to come with the system, in my opinion. So enjoyable and very funny.
I had fun shooting down David Cameron earlier, as he pulled demonic faces.
( Edited 25.03.2011 21:10 by Marzy )
Glad people are having fun with this - quite a lot of depth for such a simple, free idea, right? I've currently got Lionel Messi, Satoru Iwata and the legendary Hiroshi Yamauchi-san, former Nintendo CEO!
I played this at Game, and I found it awesome. I would agree, Amethyst that it does sound very repetitive, but no more so than Link's Crossbow training,
Very fun indeed. And the premise is simple enough to explain to nongamer friends and family and show off what a 3DS can do.