Face Raiders Hands-On

Our sanity comes under assault as Face Raiders attacks the world around us using our own likeness.


Face Raiders is a free game installed on every Nintendo 3DS system. It is also the most bizarre little thing we saw on the show floor today. In brief, Face Raiders captures the likeness of your face and has you do battle with it using the world around you as a backdrop--something previously achievable only though terrifying hallucinations.

Who's Making It: With its history of strange worlds, talking reptiles, and performance-enhancing mushrooms, only Nintendo could craft something so charming, yet so terrifying.

What It Looks Like: Each level begins with you taking a photo of your face or another person's face. On the screen, green indicators show where your eyes and mouth should line up. Once you have an expressive photo of yourself (or have secretly snapped a photo of that cute girl on the bus), the photo is stretched and molded to fit an automatically selected face mold based on the size of your face.

Your likeness is then stretched, shrunk, twisted, and squeezed to express different emotions. If that isn't bizarre enough, there's an animated mouth superimposed over your mouth--provided you followed the guidelines--that will yell, sneer, and smirk at you as you play. Basically, the game is out to create your evil twin, whose mouth is sometimes on the bottom of his or her chin.

How It Uses 3D: Once the game has captured your likeness, it'll insert it into a flying golden helmet (I am not making this up) that will immediately become hostile and attack you. You job is to shoot down your golden-clad self before your life bar runs out. To do this, you physically move the 3DS all around you to aim your reticle where you'd like to shoot. This means that through the window of your 3DS screen, what looks like a normal living room or office cubicle is actually a war zone besieged by flying, evil versions of yourself.

What You Do: You fight off waves of your face and defeat the boss before your life meter runs out. Simply pressing the A button will fire off a limitless supply of yellow balls, the bane of all evil flying faces. As you fight, your faces will start to punch holes in reality. They can then slip into one of these holes and move around in the background of what you're seeing (this also protects them from your attacks) before busting back out. To help even the score, you are periodically rewarded with bombs. These bombs can be detonated to fire off a giant, screaming version of your face that will (naturally) destroy everything onscreen.

How It Plays: Face Raiders is a simple point-and-shoot-style game, with a very active take on the "point" portion. As you fight, the game will grab other people's faces in real time, if you are close enough to them. It then uses these faces to populate new enemies within the game. Other times, certain enemies will require a change of tactics to beat. One enemy in particular could only be defeated if we shot a ball into its mouth while it was open; another required us to shoot a pack of three enemies until they turned a specific color before they would go down. Once you finish a level, the next stage unlocks and the game records your highest combo.

What We Say: This one caught us by surprise. Seeing your face blown up and manipulated in such a way is hilarious, if not a bit unsettling, no matter how many times you see it. When you add in a whole group of your friend's messed-up faces, this game is truly an otherworldly experience. Because it's included in the 3DS, you have no reason not to take the fight to your own face when the handheld is launched later this year.

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