It's these silly little experiences that you'll be making your friends watch—and that they'll be making their friends watch. They're the sort of thing, and some quirky finishing touches, that really makes the Nintendo 3DS seem from the future. This isn't the first time Augmented Reality has been on a portable system—there are several options for the iPhone—but the 3DS implementation is far and away the best yet.
Alongside the built-in applications on the 3DS is a suite of Augmented Reality (AR) games—games that make it look like you're peering through a magic looking glass, twisting and warping things right behind the 3DS like your desk or your friend's face.
Initially, you only have access to a couple of games, but the more you experiment and play, the more you unlock. When you finally make your way through the first half-dozen, you gain entry to a store with another half-dozen available for sale.
Purchases in the store are made through coins earned by walking around with your 3DS. The built-in pedometer counts your steps and for every 100 rewards you with a coin. (Or every hundred steps your dog takes when you latch it to his collar. Not that we'd ever do that.)
While I haven't unlocked everything in the AR Games collection, I've gotten through a bulk of them, and they're clever, fun and replayable little titles.
My favorite among the games is AR Archery which starts out as a simple game of virtual reality archery. Initially, you have to find and shoot the targets by pressing a button on your 3DS. A little virtual arrow flies from the bottom of your screen toward the target shown sitting in your real-world setting. But by Archery 2 you have to start hunting for the targets, looking into holes dug into the fabric of your reality, and throwing switches. It's a quirky little bit of fun.
While the other launch-day game offerings aren't bad, and we certainly haven't played them comprehensively yet, none do as good a job as the AR titles in showcasing the innovation and technology inherent in Nintendo's latest portable. These are the things that are going to sell a 3DS to people on Day 1. (At least people to whom $250 isn't that much money.)