I’ve been enjoying a bit of a renaissance with my Nintendo 3DS lately. I mean you know I’ve been playing Animal Crossing practically every day since its June release, but that had the effort of barging out practically any other game. Pokemon X&Y broke the spell for a while, but soon Animal Crossing overwhelmed it again, Highlander-style (“there can be only one”).
But with interest in Animal Crossing starting to wane, I’ve been ploughing through several other games that have been sitting on my 3DS desktop for ages. Mostly those 3DS Ambassador games – how the hell do you play Kirby & The Magic Mirror? Linear platforms please! I’ve just got through a shoddy port of Super Mario Bros 3 from the NES too, that game is rock hard… I still have Super Mario Bros 2 though, weird game.
Games have come and gone, but there has been one constant for the nearly 3 years since I got my original 3DS: Streetpass. As with the Nintendo Wii, you can create a cartoonish likeness for yourself – a Mii – for your console. Making use of the short-range WiFi capacity of the console, you can keep your 3DS on standby when you go out, and any other 3DS it encounters it will talk to. The stranger’s Mii will visit your plaza and vice versa, allowing them to participate in mini-games in the Mii Plaza.
We started off with the pre-loaded Puzzle Swap and Streetpass Quest. The former is a simple trading game where you aim to complete several jigsaws by sharing puzzle pieces via Streetpass. The Quest takes you band of Streetpass guest on a trip to rescue the royal family from hordes of monsters in a very basic RPG game.
However last year four new games were released for sale. I was reluctant as I had done a lot of Streetpassing, but not much to justify getting much gameplay out of more games. But Nintendo have introduced Streetpass Relay to the thousands of Nintendo Zone hotspots around the world, allowing you to collect up to 6 Streetpasses of the last players to pass by. With an abundance of players now available, I took on the challenge.
Streetpass Mansion is a trip through a spooky house filled with ghosts. Each Mii brings a Tetris-style block of varying size corresponding to the Mii’s colour. You aim to lay these blocks on a map to reveal each floor and ultimately the stairs to the next level, while fighting ghosts with a variety of collectible weapons. It’s alright but I’m not getting much satisfaction out of it. Sure I’m tidily re-visiting floors to plug the remaining map holes with small pieces, but I don’t have a sense of a big mission, or an end.
Streetpass Garden tasks you with breeding many different species of flowers. Each passing Mii waters a seed until it blooms, then bring their own flowers to pollinate it, giving you more seeds to grow. There are a bunch of extra features and collectibles, but for now I’m content trying to grow the 20 different breeds to become a “Master Gardener”. It’s restful and quite sweet, but is it ever bogged down in dialogue. Tutorial overload makes it far from an ‘in and out’ game, but I can see myself finding a bit more joy out of this as I go along.
Streetpass Squad is another totally different one; this time the Miis manifest as power-up modules to fix to your spaceship as you defeat a space pirate gang in a side-scrolling shoot-em-up. I love this, even if the difficult increases rapidly. Replay value is there too, with high-scores, perfect clears and collectable treasure to find on every level. Once finished you can even play the whole thing through, though I didn’t get too far on that. Lots of fun, one of my favourites.
Finally, Streetpass Battle is a strategy conquest game that sees you build and army by recruiting Miis’ soldiers – either by their free will, or – if the player is also playing this game – defeating their monarch in battle. Your army can then try to conquer the 20 countries in the land by defeating increasingly difficult computer-generated monarchs. The game is loosely a 3-round game of Scissors Paper Stone, except you decide the proportions of each type to choose to maximise the chance of victory against each random flank of the other army. It’s addictive and fast-paced, really quite good.
Why would you do any of this? HATS! These new paid games all offer ‘plaza tickets’ as prizes, which can be traded in for a dizzying variety of Mii hats. That’s it. It’s enough for me though, I love those ridiculous hats.
I mean you could have read all that from Wikipedia I suppose, but I’ve done it now anyway. It’s made me obsessed with Streetpasses now… tonight I finished my last PuzzleSwap panel, and I’m well on the way through another Streetpass Quest. I just finished the main story of Streetpass Squad too, and I’m chugging through the other games nicely. I think it might be a bit of a fad but I feel like I’ve got my money’s worth already if anything.