I recall the 3DS having a bumpy launch, but now it seems like it’s almost ubiquitous among gamers. As a 3DS owner myself, I like to take advantage of the handheld’s Streetpass function. I even splurged on all of the additional Streetpass-based games that are available on the system.
I realized after a weekend of lots of Streetpassing, that I have Opinions about the Streetpass games. And as it’s rare to find a comprehensive review of that kind of thing, I thought I would take some time to write those Opinions down in a three-part series.
What is Streetpass?
How to Streetpass: leave your 3DS on, either playing it or in your pocket in idle mode. It will connect to others in the same state, and their Mii will come visit your Mii in a central garden of Miis. You greet them, and hear a personal message and possibly a small fact about them (these are set by each individual and include things like “I like cats!”) In an area called Streetpass Plaza you can view every Mii that you have previously “collected,” and then play games along with them. In the meanwhile, those people’s 3DSes have also collected copies of your Mii to live in their Plaza. And so-on.
The Streetpass function has a limit of ten Streetpasses at a time. After that, you must allow the ten people you have just met through your Streetpass Plaza Gate before you can allow any more new people in. Once you have let people through your gate, you have to play Streetpass games with them before you can let more Miis through the gate. If you don’t play and just open the gate again, your ability to play with those Miis is lost.
There are a few different rewards that can be collected in the Streetpass games. One is the puzzles that are unique to the Puzzle Swap game. Another is hats for your Mii, because as Team Fortress 2 has also taught us, video games are all about hats. One game, Find Mii, gives Mii hats mostly directly, but the newer four games have a system where you earn a currency called a Plaza Ticket, and can trade that Plaza Ticket in at a vendor for more new hats. Streetpass also has a unique currency called a Play Coin, which is generated just by leaving the 3DS in idle mode and walking around. The Play Coins can be spent to make certain parts of games easier (or just to play them at all, if you don’t tend to pass many people).
In a day to day use scenario, I might leave my 3DS on in my bag on the train, spend a few hours in the city, and come home to see two or three Streetpasses. But when I’m spending a weekend at an event like MAGFest, trying to keep up with Streetpass is a Sisyphean task. As I am playing with ten people I just met, ten more people line up at the gate waiting to be let in. This creates an endless cycle of Streetpassing until I either have to/want to do something else with my time, or the 3DS battery life gives out.
When you just CAN’T STOP STREETPASSING. (Found via GIS on accident, not sure of original artist. I will credit if I can!)
As a core gamer who goes to a lot of conventions, I’d probably be on the average-to-heavy use case of Streetpass. In total, as of this writing, I have about 800 Streetpasses on my system, which works out to 761 individual Miis. So my design reviews of the games are coming from that perspective. However, I think my use case is an incredibly common one for a core gamer, based on the sample of 761 people that I currently have Streetpassed.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the games that are included with Streetpass.
One hates to get into the “what is a game” argument, but Puzzle Swap is at least not much of a game. It’s more of a collection exercise. Each person you pass has pieces of many individual puzzles. All the pieces are square: there’s no challenge to fit them together. People who have more puzzle pieces than you give you a piece. They also get a piece from you, if you have different ones from the ones they have. This isn’t a trading action; the pieces are duplicated, which creates more pieces for everyone. (You can also spend Play Coins on pieces if you like, but I almost never do this.) The puzzles form pictures of characters and scenes from Nintendo games that, when they are completed, you can view in 3D. No real challenge or strategy, but a pleasant enough activity and the resulting 3D pictures are nice. Some of them are even quite elaborate little animations.
Find Mii/Find Mii 2
An RPG, in a loose sense. This game, along with Puzzle Swap, shipped with 3DS. The premise is that your Mii is kidnapped by some kind of monster, and that the other Miis that you encountered must quest out to save him/her. The Miis that you have encountered cast a bit of unique magic depending on the colors of their shirts. In Find Mii, this is all there is to it, but in Find Mii 2, the “sequel” unlocked after completing the original Find Mii twice, there are a few more options including the ability for two Miis to team up, and the ability to buy potions with Play Coins.
Find Mii rewards Mii hats directly, and sort of at random. It’s a good way to earn hats! Aside from that, now that I’m on my second trip through Find Mii 2, I’ve come to view Find Mii as a bit of a chore. Generally, each Mii can only take one type of action before they get too tired to do anything and step aside for the next Mii. (If the Mii defeats a monster, the Mii gets a second action.) Monsters often have a lot of HP, requiring a lot of Miis to take them down. Sometimes a particular monster will require a Mii with just one particular shirt color. In Find Mii 1, literally all you can do about this is hope that you encounter that person, unless you, say, collude with a friend to change shirts so you can bypass a tough section, which frankly is too much effort. You can hire Wandering Hero mercenaries, but their colors are generated randomly, so this is just as good as waiting to encounter more people. In Find Mii 2, you have the option to hire any Mii you’ve previously encountered, which changes this kind of task from “annoying and really time consuming” to “pretty simple.”
It’s possible to alter the order of the Miis in line by sending the current fighting Mii to the back of the line, but this option isn’t really clearly labeled, and I didn’t figure it out for a long time. And that doesn’t help if none of the Miis I’ve found are the color I need in certain situations. Often I just end up wasting a lot of Streetpasses on enemies that are invincible to all but one color type, since I just didn’t meet that one correct person that day. Still, it is kind of cool how this game makes me care about the color shirts of the Miis I encounter. Another nice thing is that the game has an overworld map of sorts, so I’m never confused as to how much further I have to go in my “quest,” even if the rewards are random.
Tomorrow: games I paid money for.