I’m a latecomer to the Nintendo 3DS party, having only bought my 3DS XL in the last days of 2012. Within just under a month of owning my own -- instead of stealing my brother's -- I can safely say I’ve enjoyed the interface, the games and the capabilities of the handheld more than I have with any Nintendo console in a long, long time.
But one particular feature of the 3DS has stood out to me which I feel hasn’t gotten enough credit or attention, and that I feel can and will only get better over time: StreetPass.
StreetPass is an inbuilt social tool of the 3DS which allows one player’s 3DS to wirelessly communicate with another (within 30 meters) while on the move -- but only if both 3DS are not turned off but in sleep mode, and both have StreetPass features enabled.
Like most new users, I didn’t know anything about the feature and ignored it for the better part of the first week, before I realised how fun and addictive the pre-installed StreetPass software -- located under the Mii StreetPass Plaza -- is. When your 3DS communicates with another, your Mii’s are shared and can help players progress in the RPG-esque StreetPass Quest and collect the many pieces in Puzzle Quest.
Additionally, if your game supports StreetPass, you can gain StreetPass-specific bonuses or functionality; two examples I found was in Mario Kart 7, where I gained ‘ghost’ data of other players and their track times, and Resident Evil: Revelations, where I gained new items and missions for campaign and Raid mode, respectively.
So, at first, it started with one prize hat and one puzzle piece from a chance StreetPass hit at the train station when coming home from the MMGN office. I checked out my new gifts and thought it was a cool distraction, throwing on a gained Mario hat on my Mii, but it was nothing special.
But then before I knew it, I became one of “those guys”. I bring my 3DS with me whenever I can now; to the local shopping centre, to EB or JB, even on my visits to the family, harassing my younger siblings and anyone I know with a 3DS, all to help me gain a few more measly StreetPass hits to progress in StreetPass Quest and gain more delicious... Mii hats.
I say measly above because it seems hardly anyone uses StreetPass, at least here in Australia. I suspect because of the 3DS’s generally short battery life-span and a lack of general knowledge about the feature, many casual owners of the 3DS miss out on the great offerings StreetPass provides and switch off their 3DS rather than leave it on Sleep Mode, thus disabling the feature and screwing me out of more Mii hats.
To me, StreetPass is a step forward in a new kind of social gaming, similar to my opinion on aspects of Demon's Souls and Dark Souls' multiplayer systems. The potential to expand its capabilities and offerings is there -- improved gamer rankings and comparisons with one's MiiPlaza accomplishments, or a system similar to the Miiverse on Wii U, for instance -- and Nintendo are great in continously offering more StreetPass Quest and puzzles in each update, especially considering the surprising depth of two games furthered solely through wireless hits. But it seems to me outside of the pre-installed software, StreetPass it isn't getting anywhere near the developer support in individual games, that it deserves.
At least, until this year. Some of Nintendo's upcoming first-party titles such as Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Fire Emblem: Awakening have especially got me excited in their substantial, heavily involved StreetPass features. New Leaf offers players an in-game 'StreetPass Plaza' which contains model houses that belong to players that have been StreetPassed with, which you can visit, look in awe of other player's achievements, and gain home deco inspiration. That's on top of the multiplayer promised.
Awakening's StreetPass features are particularly embedded in its gameplay and appropriate for such a tactical RPG. Players see other Fire Emblem players and their in-game customised avatars via StreetPass; if you visit said character, you can buy their equipment and even recruit their avatar into your personal party -- after a honourable duel to win the right to recruit, of course. As Joystiq points out, one can theoretically have a Fire Emblem party that consists entirely of the avatars of your friends.
The coolest thing? Nab your StreetPass'd friend's avatar and send them into suicide missions -- and possibly their death in-game. I'm a cruel friend.
Both StreetPass bonuses are two examples that greatly enhance both the game and the overall 3DS experience while not being an essential part of the core experience. As a newer 3DS owner, it's exciting to hear of newer SP possibilities on offer, and it would be great to see a lot more of the upcoming 3DS titles of 2013 use and improve upon what's already in the pipeline.
...who am I kidding? I just want more people in Australia to turn SP on so I can kill those stupid King-Boo wannabes, finish the goddamn StreetPass Quest and get that awesome Samus Aran helmet. I hate those freaking Ghosts with shields. USE STREETPASS PEOPLE!
What is your opinion on the 3DS's StreetPass feature at this point in time?
By Nathan Misa