i’m in between games, so i thought i’d just post some quick thoughts on some built-in 3DS software (for anyone who’s interested and missed it, my previous post about face raiders is here.)
anyone who owns a 3DS probably already knows everything they need to know about these features, but for a run-down on the details (with strategies and spoilers) you can check out nintendo.wikia.com which has detailed pages for streetpass mii plaza (which includes puzzle swap and find mii, also known under the slightly more descriptive title streetpass quest), and nintendo video. the latter contains a complete listing of all the videos that have been streamed under the service.
to start with streetpass mii plaza: these built-in “games” adroitly accomplish two related tasks aside from the obvious goal of entertaining. the first is to give people movivation to carry their 3DS with them on the chance that they’ll get a streetpass, i.e. walk by someone who is also carrying a 3DS, in order to get some sort of game content. the game content varies depending on the game, but streetpass is a great feature for the 3DS and a major improvement over the same mode on the DS. in the DS games the exchangeable data was contained within the game, so you were required to put a specific game into “tag” mode. this severely limited your chances of interacting with someone since the likelihood that you would pass someone with a DS were small enough, but that they would also have the same game in sleep mode at the same time made any chance of automatic exchanges next to nil. since the 3DS itself now manages these exchanges, the focus shifts much more to the chance of walking by someone with a 3DS. for most of the people in the US this is still depressingly slim, but hopefully this feature will become more prominent as the system gets a larger install base. incidentally, if anyone’s curious, living in boston i was getting one to two streetpasses a week for a few months, although it’s tailed off a bit in the last couple of weeks. i’m hoping it’ll pick up again in the coming months as the holidays hit and more people get 3DSes.
the designers cleverly provided an alternate way to progress in the streetpass games by including a pedometer that counts your steps and lets you earn “play coins” that you can cash in for the equivalent of a streetpass, with a limit of 10 coins per day. a real streetpass gives a distinctly better advantage in puzzle swap (and to some extent find mii), but in these two games it feels lke a perfectly fair and reasonable consolation and succeeds in maintaining the initial goal of motivating people to carry their 3DS with them.
as a side note, i should mention that a streetpass exchanges miis as well as a very short greeting (which you can personalize to an individual once you get a second streetpass from the same person). if you’re frustrated by the greeting limitations (another of nintendo’s ascetic child-protection features), 3dstxt.com and streetpassnetwork.com provide an easy way to set up a page online where you can post a longer message so you can include the URL as your streetpass greeting.
nintendo video is a somewhat odd app since it only shows four videos at a time (one of which is almost always a “rerun” of a video that has already been posted) and you have no choice about what you get to see. none of the content has particularly interested me (with the exception of a pair of surprisingly arty animations by a fellow named santiago caicedo), although the entertainment factor of watching video in 3D (without glasses! ;)) hasn’t quite worn off. as a completely free app i don’t have any major complaints against it, and the videos are generally entertaining enough that they don’t feel like a complete waste of time. much more interesting to me (and no doubt other nintendo fans) has been the nintendo show 3D, which is much like the nintendo week show on wii’s nintendo channel. as one would expect the show includes nintendo news and footage, but its lone host is equally personable and it also includes some fun/funny 3D footage at the end of each episode. it’s somewhat hidden since it’s within the nintendo eshop, and it looks like it’ll only be updating every few weeks, but it’s nice to have another 3DS video feature.
which brings me to the second thing that the streetpass games and also the nintendo video app accomplishes which is motivating people to use their 3DS for at least a few minutes every day or at least a few times a week. there’s no question that all of these features have kept me coming back to the 3DS every day even when i’m focusing most of my gaming time on a completely different console, and similarly there’s no question that having the 3DS open and in my hands nudges me to fool around with features on it (such as the camera and downloaded games) that as a nintendo fanboy i certainly would’ve gotten to eventually but that others might have ignored without this extra psychological push. nintendo has made a mini-industry of these “minutes a day” gaming experiences, which have included the animal crossing, brain age, and nintendogs series, and these games fit right in and provide the same mix of mindless relaxation combined with the feeling that you’re “making progress” (as trivial as that may be, but certainly no less trivial than other forms of mass entertainment).
my only complaint about these features is that in find mii there’s a part near the end where you literally can’t progress unless you get a streetpass of someone with a certain colored shirt, and i spent days wasting play coins before i finally got unstuck. a highly questionable design decision since in this case streetpasses would be equally unhelpful, so i’m really not sure what the designers’ motivations were for what is otherwise a generally genial gaming experience.
anyway, it turns out i had more to say about these built-in features than i’d thought, but those minutes do add up and these games and apps have definitely made me perfectly happy to be a 3DS owner even though i still haven’t finished any actual full-length 3DS games. and even though mario 3D land is only a couple of weeks away, there’s no doubt that i’ll still be keeping up with my “minutes a day” games for a long while yet, especially since a streetpass mii plaza upgrade is coming up, featuring a new quest and new images to collect puzzles pieces for. sweet!
3DS links that pass in the night:
– nice video of all the streetpass puzzle pictures (which look awesome “in person”, by the way)
– some discussion about streetpass mii plaza on the iwata asks about 3DS feature
– not particularly informative official page for nintendo video