Get this game: the amazing anamorphics of Looksley's Line Up

Looksley's Line Up [Nintendo, DSiWare]

It must've been just coincidence that Nintendo released head-tracking downloadable game Rittai Kakushi e Attakoreda (Hidden 3D Image: There It Is!) in Japan just weeks before going on to announce its actual 3D DS followup, still codenamed the 3DS, especially with the confusion that followed, where many thought the demonstration video above was for the latter.

By now we know the forthcoming handheld's 3D will have little to do with tracking technology, but Looksley's Line Up (as Attakoreda has now been released as in the U.S.) still might've made a nice showcase title for the new tech.

looksleysshot.jpgOr rather, would've with a few more generational passes, because even for as magical as Looksley's can be, it's still quite obviously the first gen attempt at something that could eventually become something fantastic. Don't expect to play Line Up in anything but an ideally-lit, neutrally-backgrounded area (it'll never make a "last game before bed" entry): its facial-tracking is simply too weak to handle anything less than perfection, and even then is prone to awkward in-game jerks and sudden out-of-frame freakouts without moving in an ultra-slow and controlled manner.

But that's just the caveat: set your conditions right and there's essentially no precedent for what Looksley's does, outside curious classical art examples. By craning your view through its miniscule fairy-tale themed diarama, letters and pictures emerge, which you tap the screen to "capture", collecting words to advance yourself through its paper-cut storyline.

It manages to tickle a pattern-recognition part of the brain that seemingly rarely gets used in games: little shreds of the silhouetted object will suddenly snap into view and lead you to hone in on unexpected positions and angles where you'd "seen" absolutely nothing before (see: the way the baby-blue paint-splattered hand-rail in the photo above can be condensed into Pinocchio's elongated nose).

It's by no means a perfect game on any level, but it is an absolutely fascinating proof of concept and underutilized use of technology, and — for everyone that's upgraded to a DSi — one of the better downloadable offerings, even if its version of 3D isn't Nintendo's ultimate 3D goal quite yet.