Piclings is a ho-hum platformer with a brilliant photo-based level creation tool

It’s not hard to see that we’re about to be surrounded by augmented reality games. The new Nintendo 3DS takes advantage of it heavily, and it would appear that App Store has been in on the game for awhile now. We recently looked at Play Kalei, which used your pictures to make a puzzle game. Now Piclings does it to make an action game. But are we ready to play games with reality?

At its heart, Piclings is a simple action game where you collect coins and avoid bad guys. You’ll jump and fly around levels trying to get all the coins and if you’re good kill the enemies. The controls are a little soft and certainly won’t be winning any awards. There’s no story or feeling of progression outside of Game Center achievements. If it sounds standard that’s because it really is. What sets the game apart is what the game uses as the levels, your photos.

Piclings will take a photo off your device, interpret what’s in it, and then design a level around it. Dark lines will become platforms to stand on, and enemies will track back and forth on different elements. It’ll do this for any photo you choose, whether you snap it yourself or just load it on from your computer… and it does a really good job at it too.

So while the game in and of itself is pretty generic, the idea and tech behind it are pretty awesome to see in action. There are only seven levels included in the game, so it doesn’t take long to run out of content provided. Luckily that’s where the app starts to shine. Once you supply a picture of your own the game will take it and turn it into a level. Once the automatic part is done you can even go in and refine it in case it misinterpreted something. Overall though, the app does an awesome job on its own.

Piclings

Piclings

But with so little in the way of included art assets, I can’t shake the feeling that the programmers just decided to forgo hiring designers or illustrators and figured they’d just get the users to do the level design by taking pictures. I suppose it’s a better plan that throwing up some substandard art, but I really feel like they could’ve at least included more than just the few levels before relying on us to fill in the rest.

As a game, Piclings is just kind of ok. As a toy though, it couldn’t be more fun. After a while I spent more time taking pictures and putting them in the game than I was actually playing the game. It’s just cool to see the tech go to work. But despite the game’s shortcomings I really do think it’s worth checking out. The tech does a lot to overcome the shortcomings of the actual game.