The Hidden

Infrequent bursts of fun do little to redeem this sloppy shooting gallery.

By OnMercury, Posted 04 Dec 2011

Nintendo set the 3DS’s gold standard for AR games at launch. Its archery, fishing and minigolf-esque games utilized both the 3D and built-in cameras to great effect. And, of course, there was Face Raiders, a classic “shoot the things that fly at you until they explode” game about aliens stealing people’s faces for use as human shields. The story details might be off, but don’t read too far into it.

The point is, Nintendo issued a simple challenge with Face Raiders and the AR Games compilation: "Do better than we did." And 1st Playable Productions answered that call with The Hidden, a game that fails quite spectacularly in its attempt to dethrone the launch title.

Ghostbusters references seem inevitable, given the game’s ghost-hunting theme. Imagine the '80s comedy classic, minus the self-aware silliness, charming cast and brilliant dialogue. You’re halfway there: Now pretend our heroes spend the majority of the movie aimlessly wandering New York City in search of ghosts, rather than busting them. Doesn’t sound fun, does it? That’s apparently what it’s like to be a member of G.E.I.S.T., the game’s Ghostbusters stand-in du jour.

The Hidden, Review
Guys, I think there's a ghost here!

On paper, The Hidden sounds like a great idea: Using the 3DS’s cameras, you track down ghosts and blast them until they’re dead (or maybe re-dead?) or capture them for research. As you explore new locations, you unlock more and tougher missions. You'll also build offensive and defensive upgrades for your system so that you can face tougher spirits. This could have been good, maybe even great. Where it breaks down is the execution.

For starters, there’s a bit of lag when moving the camera—not much, but enough that you’ll notice it. It’s not always an issue, but on harder missions a tiny bit of lag becomes a huge problem: React too slowly, often through no fault of your own, and a chunk of your life is gone.

The Hidden, Review
These ghosts look really threatening.

But the worst part is the shoehorned need to walk about to find enemy spirits. It’s this feature that causes The Hidden to fall flat on its face. You can’t just advance from one mission to the next. Instead, you have to open scanning mode to begin searching—and then walk. How long? You don’t know, and it’s never made clear.

You’ll walk, and walk, and then walk some more until The Hidden is good and ready to let you fight some ghosts. Oh, and you need to do this with the system open at all times and held within view. This both looks ridiculous and wastes battery life. If getting players off the couch is the plan, wasting their play time is a poor method. It would have been wiser to use the 3DS’s pedometer to track players’ footsteps in sleep mode and cause spirits to appear after certain milestones when the system is reopened.

Poor controls also get in the way every so often. It’s surprising that a game primarily built with the system’s cameras and gyroscope in mind could have poor controls, but The Hidden manages even that. To fight some spirits, you need to match their frequency by manipulating a dial on the touchscreen while moving the analog pad and keeping the 3DS steady. Doing all this at once is not only tedious and annoying but also dangerous, because it can cause you to lose your grip on the system and drop it.

The Hidden, Review
Looks like fun, huh?

Of course, not everything about The Hidden is bad. The option to stack missions gives you some leeway in how you play. If you’re looking for a challenge, you can embark on several missions at once, but you can also play them individually for a more leisurely pace. Blasting ghosts can occasionally be fun, but it’s never thrilling and lacks the charm of Face Raiders.

That’s what characterizes The Hidden: Brief moments of fun mired in a sea of bad decisions. It’s bland, sloppy and rarely enjoyable. Considering the 3DS’s inclusion of a similar, better game free of charge, you would do well to pass on The Hidden. But if you do buy it—if you absolutely must hunt ghosts on 3DS—prepare for disappointment.

Aaron Kinney, NoobFeed

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General Information

The Hidden


Platform(s): 3DS
Publisher(s): Majesco Entertainment
Developer(s): 1st Playable Productions
Genres: Shoot-'Em-Up
Themes: Adventure
Release Date: 2011-11-03

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