The first time I saw the word PulzAR on a list of upcoming PlayStation-brand video games, I laughed. Or did I scoff? One of the two. PulzAR?? Really?
Having played Halo, I should know that you can't judge a game by its name. I didn't have to. PulzAR, I would soon learn is an augmented reality game for the Vita. OK. Kind of cool. AR games mostly seem like parlour tricks. I like them but I don't see myself playing them much.
PulzAR, however, is an AR game I'd play.
It's very simple. You use the Vita as a viewfinder of sorts, pointing it at a table. You place one of the augmented reality cards that ships with the Vita in the middle of the table. It triggers the rendering, on your Vita screen, of a missile silo. Since this is AR, it looks like the silo is on your table (as long as you're looking at the table through the Vita). It then generated a puzzle around the silo. The puzzle consists of a single lazer and a target. The target will be a certain colour and will be angled in a specific direction. You can then place a handful of other AR cards on the table to make the laser strike the target.
Each card is associated with a mirror or a filter that can change the colour of the laser. You're given a finite quantity of mirrors and lasters at the start of a puzzle and it's up to you to figure out card placement that works.
The light-bouncing puzzles in PulzAR aren't that different from those we've seen in Zelda and other adventure series, but there is something gained in being able to physically place and orient the cards (read: mirrors) in the real world.
The best thing about PulzAR isn't the gameplay. It's the game's own cheap trick. You play through each puzzle on a timer, racing to place your cards/mirrors before it's too late. Too late = the meteor overhead crashes onto the playing field and blows everything up. At any time, while you're playing, you can look up at the ceiling or sky above you in real life and — guess what? — there's a huge meteor hanging up there, slowly bearing down on you! It's a very cool effect, reminiscent of the menace of the falling moon in The Legend of Zelda: Majoras's Mask.
Hopefully if you play PulzAR that meteor will never crash on you. You will have connected the laser to its target and blasted it with a missile.
PulzAR will be out for the PlayStation Vita on June 12.