Face Raiders came as something of a surprise to me, a title I had not heard of until it was casually mentioned by Reggie near the end of his presentation about 3DS in NYC. That it was going to come pre-installed in every 3DS led me to believe it was something special, an idea that would perfectly demonstrate what the system was capable of, and I quickly added it to my mental checklist of games I planned on testing out.
As you’ve probably gleaned from the title, the entire objective of the game is to shoot faces. Players take either a picture of themselves or a friend, which is then converted into a fleet of disembodied heads that will serve as the game’s enemies. Several appear at a single time, and you must physically move the 3DS to aim and fire at them. Defeating enough will summon the game’s boss (the same face except adorned with a samurai-like helmet), which is slightly more tricky to best. You accumulate points for the accuracy of your shots, but aside from that the title offers little in the way of depth.
Still, while game may sound overly-simplistic, there is a slight level of challenge to it. Unlike AR Archery, you can take damage in this game, though the only face I recall ever launching an attack against me was the boss. In addition to that, spiked balls would occasionally appear among the enemies as well, and shooting one by accident would cause it to destroy a portion of the background. This in particular made the game a very surreal experience, especially once you came to the realization that you were literally destroying reality with every mistake you made. It felt strangest on the show floor because I was surrounded on all sides by other attendees, so every time I shot a spiked ball I would puncture a hole in someone. The game even remembers which parts of the real world have been destroyed, and they remain that way until you complete a play session.
Face Raiders, even moreso than AR Games, benefits from being included in the hardware because it is a novel idea that many gamers would most likely overlook due to its simplicity. It may not have the same “wow” factor as AR Games, but it is better suited for casual play sessions because it does not strictly depend upon outside materials to function. It really is a neat little title, especially because it comes pre-installed in every 3DS, and for what it is it’s a lot of fun.