Cooperative reality: Hands-on with Box! Open Me for PS Vita

Augmented reality games are nothing new. Over the past several years, we've seen them pop up on virtually every platform, from the Xbox and PS3 to Vita and 3DS to mobile phones. Box! Open Me for the PlayStation Vita is a little different, however, in that it challenges players to work together to solve puzzles.

It's a very simple concept – two players coordinate to open puzzle boxes – but the simple act of cooperating in an augmented reality game is intriguing to say the least.

With both players situated at a table, each is presented with his own view of the box, which naturally shifts depending on where you stand and where you point the Vita's camera. Each box is designed so that it can only be opened when each player uses their unique viewpoint.

For example, when I tried to open the first box, a pair of clamps snapped into place, preventing the lid from opening. The only way to open the lid, then, was for me to hold one clamp in place while my partner held the other and, finally, contort my free finger to flick open the top of the box. It felt a bit like playing Twister with my fingers.

The second box presented its own unique challenges. In one instance, I had to enter a sequence of codes into a touch pad on the front of the box. The codes were displayed on the back of the box, where only my partner could see them, so he had to relay them to me so I could punch them in. Later on, my partner used his Vita to "deflect" a laser beam toward my Vita, which I in turn used to deflect the beam toward a solar panel.

There were only two boxes on show at Sony's booth, but that was enough to whet my curiosity. Augmented reality games often don't hold much interest beyond the novelty of seeing virtual worlds interacting with the real one, but the cooperative elements of Box! Open Me really make it stand out. Box! Open Me is set for a winter release in Japan.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.