Game Review

The Hidden (3DS) – Review

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The Hidden

The Hidden

Back when the 3DS was first announced, one of the first things I wanted to see happen was the release of a Fatal Frame augmented reality game using the 3DS’ built-in cameras. Tecmo announced earlier this year the one was in the works, including a trailer or two to promote the game. However, it seems fairly unlikely that we shall see the title released stateside, but nonetheless, wanna-be Ghostbusters are not completely out of luck. Majesco recently released The Hidden – a ghastly substitute that might scratch your supernatural itch without the Japanese school girl fetish but with the beloved paralyzing fear.The story to The Hidden is existent enough to where you are aware of a plot but you will quickly forget that it is there, even as your NPC comrades yell commands at you via poorly scripted text messages. (I swear, I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and shit out better dialogue sequences.) You are a newly recruited  paranormal investigator to G.E.I.S.T. – the Ghostly Entity Investigation and Strike Team – hired to help gain control the growing number of supernatural beings known as Shades; Shades are pesky hostile poltergeists that have broken through a portal to an astral plane and are now infesting the world. Armed with your trusty 3DS, you set off to exterminate them as well as catch them for future study.

A variety of offensive and defensive tools are at your disposal.  Using a handful of different projectile weapons, you weaken Shades to suck up with a Luigi’s Mansion-styled device to break them down for study. Not only to you learn more about the individual Shade’s mannerisms and genetic make-up, but you also gather ectoplasm that can be used to upgrade your weaponry and defenses. Shields can protect you from oncoming attacks from Shades while you can use explosives to eliminate them or plasma lasers to injure them for capture.

As an augmented reality game, you visit real world locations like your living room, kitchen, or your bedroom to conduct your hunts. An interesting concept to say the least, and one that works surprisingly decently. The in-game scanner recognizes locations you have visited, plugging in CGI Shades into real rooms. The map then takes note of the rooms you have cleared, ones that are currently infested, and past rooms where a new outbreak of Shades have occurred.

The Hidden will point you in the right direction to where in the room the Shades are hiding thus requiring you to physical move around in order to zap the mystical buggers. They fly around the room, forcing you to hold the 3DS above your face as you twist and turn quickly in order to aim at them. Once the location has been cleared, you must move to the next in order to continue to the next mission. Here is where the room recognition becomes a problem. It bases locations off of WiFi connections and unique IP addresses. Meaning, that once you have ‘cleared’ an area with a single connection, you have to find a new connection to keep playing the game.

For many of us, we haThe Hidden Screenshotve limited access to other WiFi connections upon where we can perform our ‘ghost hunting’. While the game itself holds nothing fearful about it in the slightest, it does manage to terrify you slightly by forcing you to venture into the frightening public world where only the shameless can continue to play it. If you are anything like me, you probably have no desire to mindless spin around like you are having a standing-seizure the middle of the McDonald’s or StarBucks, which quickly put an end to my investigation career.

The required movement – both physically and with locations – greatly backfires on it as a portable title. You need an open space to freely move, preventing you from being able to play it on a plane or car ride. (You know, during the most common times that a person is going to want to play a 3DS game…) This came to me as a great disappointment because the gameplay is actual smooth when it comes to matching your body’s movements to the location of the augmented Shade’s in the room via the built-in gyroscope.

However, the overall production quality of The Hidden is very lacking. The absent details in the CGI effects are covered up by bright bloom and overly shiny surfaces; making everything that is happening feel extremely out of place with the dull shadow-layered background of your living room. While I understand that it would be almost impossible for them to develop a look that would universal match everyone’s home, I cannot help but feel that they could have at least attempted something less childish in look. The Shades look like transparent, colorful Slimer rippoffs, taking away any aggressive appearance they might have had.

At its core, The Hidden feels like a polished tech demo for the 3DS, showing off a few interesting concepts for the system’s built-in features but nothing more. It contains very little substance with simplified ‘”point and shoot” style. Sadly, it does not explore the possibilities that a true augmented horror game could possess like having low whispers coming through your speakers, life-like human spirits popping up around you, and a sadistic story.  Playing through The Hidden is like watching an episode of Family Guy. It entertains you enough to satisfied your boredom but once it is over, you begin to think of all the other things that you could have done that would have been a better use of your precious time. The novelty of it quickly wears off after you have cleared first mission. The other eleven missions the make up the game are just “rinse and repeat”, copied objectives of the first but with more powerful enemies.

Kids might enjoy it but then again, that would mean you would have to take them to public places to run around chasing ghosts…Have fun with that.

Platform: 3DS Developer: 1st Play Productions Publisher: Majesco Category: Arcade Shooter Release: Nov. 3, 2012