Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir is a very different kind of video game.
The title focuses on the 3DS’ augmented reality feature, only instead of utilizing the cards included with the handheld, the player uses a small paper diary included with the game to solve puzzles. The player points the 3DS’ camera at it and three dimensional objects appear through augmented reality.
The game begins by asking the player to take a self-portrait. This is when the game’s flaws first appear. The 3DS’ camera’s low 1.6 mega pixel camera preforms very poorly under low lighting conditions. My face ended up a noisy mess of pixels.
Through the 3DS’ built in camera, Spirit Camera places its in-game characters in real world surroundings on the handheld screen. This results in some really cool gameplay opportunities. In one portion, you need to place your hand over a 3D image of a blood stained hand print. Seeing the title’s ghosts hobbling towards you in your own bedroom is also unsurprisingly frightening.
This is augmented reality gaming at its finest and I’ve never seen it used more uniquely.
The game does have a ton of issues, though. As the title takes advantage of the 3DS’ 3D feature, it’s extremely hard to maintain a straight line of site with the handheld’s screen (a necessity if you want to maintain the 3D effect). Unfortunately, I played most of the game with the 3D feature turned off. This plagues a number of motion controlled 3DS games like Star Fox 64 3D.
If you want to sit down, relax and play a video game, Spirit Camera isn’t the title for you. In order to control the game, the player needs to constantly move the 3DS’ camera to look around while the on-rails story line plays out.
At times, I found this extremely frustrating but engaging the player and making them game in new ways is the point of Spirit Camera. I also didn’t like the fact that the game controlled my character’s movements—I was only able to look around.
In order to make the 3DS’ camera recognize the game’s diary, the player needs to be in an extremely well lit room. I live in a basement apartment with poor lighting, so I was forced to use my smartphone’s flashlight app in order for the feature to work properly.
The Camera Obscura (the name of your camera in the game) is used to fight enemies. A gauge fills as you point your camera at an enemy and you attack your foes by taking pictures of them. Other than cool augmented reality gimmicks, there really isn’t much to Spirit Camera’s gameplay.
Spirit Camera’s face-eating, super natural ghost story line is uninspired and most players will finish the game in about three hours. Thankfully, the title’s voice acting is good but, strangely, very few lines of dialogue are actually voiced.
Spirit Camera’s augmented reality effect is unique, but I can’t help wondering what it would look like with a higher resolution camera. Unfortunately the game’s core mechanics aren’t very fun. Spirit Camera shows the potential augmented reality has in gaming, but it isn’t compelling enough.
This story was also featured on Canada.com.
Follow Patrick O’Rourke on Twitter: @Patrick_ORourke.