Although the 3DS packs in a surprising amount of cool functionality – including the ability to listen to music, surf the web, create your own personalised Mii character, and snap 3D photos – it’s a gaming machine first and foremost.
The entertainment software that comes pre-loaded on the 3DS is a cut above the usual throwaway affairs one usually finds installed on gaming hardware.
Face Raiders is an Augmented Reality shooter that allows you to paste the face of a friend (or enemy) onto a bunch of fiendish flying monsters, which then fly menacingly around the room.
Using the 3DS as your weapon you can fire projectiles to destroy them. Any stray shots crack the scenery, revealing a hole in the fabric of space and time. Needless to say, it’s awesome.
Sticking with the Augmented Reality theme, AR Games makes use of the enigmatic pack of cards that are bundled with the console. Place the card on the table, stand the required distance away and boom – you’ve got a cool little mini-game. Sony explored the same territory with its PS3 Eye of Judgement game, but here it’s even more compelling and dynamic.
In fact it’s this element which is likely to swallow up the vast majority of your time, even if you’ve got proper retail games to play. The gameplay is basic but the execution is astonishing: the 3D objects that sprout from the desk are wholly convincing, and you can even walk round them without destroying the illusion.
One of the levels forces you to stare down a 3D hole to snag the final target, and represents a genuine moment of jaw-dropping brilliance.
As a tech demo, AR Games is undeniably impressive. However, it’s the potential of the technology that's truly exciting – if Nintendo and other developers can push this even further, Augmented Reality gaming on the 3DS could make as big an impact on the gaming landscape as waggle control did with the Wii.
Part one: Introduction
Part two: The hardware
Part three: 3D or not 3D? That is the question
Part four: The word on the StreetPass
Part six: The verdict