Written by Jason Trent Wednesday, 06 April 2011 05:00
It’s already been one week. That’s 7 days, 168 hours or even 604,800 minutes. Any way you think about it, it’s a pretty good chunk of time. Believe it or not, that’s just how long I’ve had the Nintendo 3DS in my possession. Last week I touched on my less mature thoughts on the system. Now, I return to give an updated take on things. The conclusion I found myself with last week, was that though the 3DS was a sound proof of concept, it wasn’t really ready for the average gamer. A week later, I feel much the same way. But, there are features that I’ve become more fond of, namely StreetPass.
The first time I heard about StreetPass, I was a bit underwhelmed. Sure, in concept it was a neat idea, but if WiiConnect24 was any indication; Nintendo was completely capable of taking something potentially useful and interesting and make it do nothing. StreetPass doesn’t seem to be suffering the same fate, however. For those of you not in the know, StreetPass, in its most basic form is a feature that allows 3DS owners to share information while the system is asleep or even when players are doing unrelated things on their respective systems. So what uses does this have? The first example I played with was the Mii Plaza, which is included on the 3DS. It’s a simple concept where ‘passing’ other 3DS players in real life results in their Mii being sent to your system, along with a custom greeting that they’ve specified. Nintendo kindly requests that this public message be kept appropriate, but I’m not sure what could be done if those more uncouth than myself (that would be really, very uncouth) chose to share content some may not appreciate. Once StreetPass has found someone else with StreetPass enabled on the same piece of software, an LED lights up on the face of the system to alert you, and you’re set.
Collecting Miis isn’t all that interesting in and of itself, but each and every Mii you collect can be used with two games included in the Mii Plaza: Find Mii and Puzzle Swap. Let’s get the lesser of the two out of the way first. Puzzle Swap gives you one puzzle piece for each person you StreetPass with. Getting all the pieces of a puzzle creates a 3D image of something Nintendo branded. I’m working on getting Mario’s mug completed at the moment. You don’t actually have to arrange the pieces, so I’m not sure how this is much of a puzzle, and the reward is pretty lame. This is the game I won’t be returning to until Find Mii is complete.
Find Mii, on the other hand, is also somewhat uninteresting in concept, but in practice, is as addictive as heck (which is really addictive, by the way). The idea is that for each person you StreetPass, you get their Mii to fight for you in a simplistic RPG. You see, your Mii is locked up in a cage, and it’s up to Miis you meet and other heroes you can purchase, to save the day. Each Mii or hero can only be used once, so you’ll need to keep a steady supply going if you’re going to make much progress. The game consists of rooms which each house one or more monsters needing a good ol’ fashioned defeat. Battle is simple, only asking whether you’d like your characters to attack or use magic. Attack does physical damage, while magic causes various status changes. Completing rooms results in earning hats for your Mii which can be shown off in Mii Plaza for others who you meet through StreetPass. Like I said, it’s simple. But at the same time, it’s something I keep returning to day after day, in no small part due the system’s built-in pedometer.
I can’t be the only person mystified by Nintendo’s decision to make the 3DS a pedometer when in sleep mode. They’ve ingeniously incorporated this feature into the rest of the system by including a reward system. For every 100 steps taken, you’re given a Play Coin. You can get a maximum of 10 of these a day, and with these coins, you can unlock puzzle pieces in Puzzle Swap, and unlock heros in Find Mii. Two coins are required for each unlock, so you’re limited to a maximum of five items, mix them how you will, in both games every day. It doesn’t sound like much, but if most people are anything like me, then a lot of people are going to start carrying their 3DS with them while out and about. Yes, this may encourage some to walk around when they might not otherwise, but the real benefit is that people are being encouraged to take their system with them in public, which means that StreetPass will take on a more prominent role on the system as a whole.
StreetPass isn’t just limited to these built in games though. They’re also included with full blown retail games. Super Street Fighter IV, for example, takes character trophies which are earned in game and with Game Coins (see how these features are all tying in together?) and lets them duke it out with other players’ teams of trophies as you pass them on the street. Ridge Racer 3D uses the StreetPass feature to share ghosts of other racers to compete against, so even if your system is sleeping, you can still have some sort of multiplayer to go. Games are only going to be using this feature for bigger and better things as time moves on. This might be the secret weapon that keeps me coming back and it undoubtedly adds a level of replayability that was never seen on the DS itself.