When Face Racers: Photo Finish is released for the 3DS in September, it will be the first kart racer released for the 3DS. That was mentioned more than a few times by Majesco representatives at the company's E3 booth today. They're obviously aware that beating the 3DS version of Mario Kart to the start line is going to be crucial, and the good news is that an earlier release date isn't the only thing that Face Racers: Photo Finish has going for it.
As alluded to in its title, Face Racers: Photo Finish lets you put yourself in the game using the 3DS camera. After taking four photos of your face (normal, happy, mad, upset), you'll be able to stick your three-dimensional head onto the body of a racer. (We didn't get to try this for ourselves, but the faces of the Majesco representatives who were showing us the game were already in and were instantly recognizable.) Furthermore, you'll be able to use photos to customize trackside billboards, which is definitely a nice touch. The best use of photos that we saw during our demo, though, was a power-up that, when used, partially obscures your opponents' screen with a taunting/waving graphic that incorporates your face, leaving your opponents in no doubt as to who just messed with them.
Other power-ups that we saw during our time with Face Racers included mines, missiles, and speed boosts, which were all mapped to the right shoulder button. Elsewhere, the controls were similar to those employed in Mario Kart games, though we weren't able to get any kind of powerslide going around corners. We opted to play using the circle pad for the most part, if only so we could see the 3D properly, but there's also an option to steer your kart using the 3DS's gyroscope, which worked pretty well.
Face Racers will boast 20 different tracks (plus mirrored versions of all of them), all in different locations that check all of the requisite lava, ice, desert, and mountain boxes. The two tracks that we played didn't appear to be finished (some of the textures were clearly--OK, hopefully--placeholders), but the layouts were good, and they should be fun to race around both against AI opponents and against friends either locally or online. Only four players will be supported in multiplayer (download play will purportedly be an option), and for obvious reasons you won't be able to use any photos that you've taken when playing online. (Eeeugh, that's not a face!)
It remains to be seen whether or not Face Racers will be a good alternative or accompaniment to the 3DS version of Mario Kart. We look forward to answering that question and to bringing you more information on the game just as soon as we can get our hands on a more complete version of it.