I’m a bit more excited to check out the pack-in Kid Icarus: Uprising AR idol cards than the actual game. By placing two of them together on a flat surface, players can watch the depicted heroes, villains, and monsters duke it out in augmented reality through the lens of the Nintendo 3DS. On the official Uprising website, Nintendo promises that fans can collect hundreds of cards in the series (presumably by buying them directly, going to special events, and picking up promotional snacks).
By encouraging players to get together for trading or to watch their collections go head-to-head, the company is doing a nice job of promoting real-life social interactions for a game on a personal, handheld device. That’s a concept they’ve promoted and done quite well, dating back to the old Game Boy days.
Nintendo has somewhat recently sold collectible cards (I mean, besides Pokémon), but they were never this exciting. I’ve bought a couple packs of the Mario Kart Wii and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess series, but I didn’t feel compelled to complete either set. After a couple of glances, I usually would forget I even bought them. With these idol cards, however, I’m looking forward to watching all the different battle combinations. This, in theory, gives each newly acquired card a significant amount of replay value.
Nintendo is smart for doing this. Not only can they forge a collectors’ community around these technology-infused cards, but they’re also creating a nice incentive for customers to buy copies of Kid Icarus: Uprising new instead of used. Plus, I would not be surprised if they were using this tie-in marketing campaign as an experiment of sorts. Is this not a testing ground for a future generation of Pokémon cards and a corresponding 3DS game?
The part I find most interesting about these AR idol cards, though, is how Nintendo is using them to expand the Kid Icarus universe for consumers outside traditional methods. They’ve already produced, ad nauseam: cartoons, movies, websites, toys, and other miscellaneous tchotchkes to promote their titles. Now, if a player wants to continue to experience the Kid Icarus world when not playing the actual game, he can watch Pit and Medusa on these little pieces of thick paper go at each other in augmented reality. That might not be mind-blowing for everyone, but it’s still a neat the-future-is-now way to play that isn’t really happening on other devices. I’m excited to see if this whole thing takes off and how else other game companies can utilize the technology for other franchises.
As for this new installment in the Kid Icarus series — where the last major release was more than 25 years ago — Nintendo is definitely starting on the right sandaled foot.