Nazo Waku Yakata is pretty odd and oddly pretty.
The titular 'Beguiling Puzzle Mansion' is a network of rooms populated by disturbing doodles layered, pop-up book style, with 3D. We meet quivering fox men and onion-faced horrors, each in need of help. One women wants fireflies stirring up for her nocturnal dip, elsewhere a photographer hunts for ghosts. Assist them and you move to the next room. It's like WarioWare with talking or Another Code with no walking.
Stylus pokes identify distressed circus animals; accelerometer shakes rally a portable shrine to ram a rival; the gyroscope lets us peer down a geisha's kimono. Even the camera gets a literal look in as cleaning a mirror reveals your horrible mug staring out. The mic gets a good workout, furthering conversations and solving 50% of the scenarios.
Lungs will be relieved to hear this is a blow-free zone. Instead, we get voice recognition. Our yelps fire bazookas, flirt with café staff and help unruly kids do their homework. All in Japanese, of course. 'Import unfriendly' doesn't do it justice. We ended up translating a Japanese FAQ into English, finding the required phrase, translating that back into Japanese symbols, then googling the pronunciation. An unsatisfying way to play a game.
The fact there's a game where we shout clothing items at a shop mannequin pleases us. That someone else has to work out what to shout, less so. At least our stupid English ears can appreciate Capcom's startling use of surround sound. New headphone technology emulates 3D sound.
When a character walks off the screen there's a genuine aural sense of them talking behind you. Such is the quality, we found ourselves looking for real-world sources.
The effect is largely cosmetic. Bar a few directional puzzles - finding a cat by its mews or scratching DJ decks to match two rappers - it's mainly used for scene setting, like a surreal episode of The Archers. Listen for yourself online. Like what you hear? Pray for localisation.
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A tech demo limited by that tricky pan-continental language barrier. Hey, at least we now know how to tell a demon to bugger off in Japanese.
- Demented artings raise smiles/eyebrows in equal measure.
- Simple, but artfully done
- Startlingly effective 3D sound
- More of a montage of 3DS gimmicks than a game