So the first preface of this article probably needs to be that as far as Nintendo-related products go, I’m WELL behind the curve on console ownership. Â I haven’t had a current Nintendo console buy since the N64 (!), though I’ve certainly had experience with GameCube, Wii and the DS-Lite that’s now older than dirt in tech-years. Â Got about…what, 6000 gameplay hours or so to catch up on? Â Gonna have to ask forÂ a vacation day allotment increase, or hire some kid to take over dish washing duty for the next 18 years.
rat bastardÂ awesome friend of mine let me try outÂ The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds onÂ his 2DS, and even with an ENTIREÂ dimension missing, I knew this was no longer something I could ignore. Â Already ignited with a dormant passion from recently replaying the first three Zelda titles on the Wii U Virtual Console, and being a Big McLargeHuge fan of A Link to the Past, I purchased a refurbed gold LE 3DS XL that showed up JUST before our trek down to Baltimore, MD for Otakon 2014.
TheÂ sheer number of different areas of the system I hadÂ to set up initially, including but not limited to my Nintendo ID, Link to Wii U, Wi-Fi, registering the system and game with my Nintendo Club account, enabling / linking eShop, enabling StreetPass (and whatever the hell else I’m forgetting) seemed worse than a patient history in an ER. Â But I would soon realize the toll this wonderful and terrible innovation that others handheldsÂ dream of would inflict, as I fired up the unit Friday morning during Otakon.
Think about it. Â A new 3DS StreetPass user, at a convention not primarily about gaming but involving a lot of crossover, with 35,000 in attendance walking around. Â I could have literally done NOTHING ELSE but sit in a hallway getting a new queue of 10 StreetPass hits as often as every 90 seconds.
Of course, our group thatÂ typically attends Otakon are staff, so we only get to venture out into the (often literally) unwashed masses here and there.Â We did our typical 36 hours or so that weekend of work, so thankfully my fiance helped play the mini-games, but even so, I only had the wherewithal to get about 280 hits over the weekend (as we work primarily in rooms where only other staff would be in range, and we only spent a short period of time around con-goers). Â I probably could have gotten 10 times that if I had been able to concentrate on it. Â Even so, what was MOST surprising to me was how engaging I found the SP games to be;Â even just short of 300 link-ups was enough social gaming overdose that not only did I understand and appreciate the tech, I DIDN’T EVEN PLAY A Link Between Worlds during the day at the con because I was having too much fun with other gamers’ Miis and obtaining collectibles / Accomplishments (Achievements, basically) and, well, just enjoying the mini-games, especially the random gameplay elements introduced depending on details of individual Miis.
The free puzzle-piece and ‘Find Mii’ games are simple, easy to understand, and are interesting enough, especially if (like me) you have a little ‘collector-OCD’ in you. Â I later purchased the other four StreetPass built-in games after returning home, due to enjoying StreetPass so much, but would later discover what happens when your dealer cuts you off.
I live in Upstate New York, which is not only more rural an area than somewhere like Baltimore, but also doesn’t have a convention with 3-5 times the area’s population walking around with 3DSes. Â But I thought, ‘Nah, StreetPass links will be harder to come by, but how few of them could be out there?”. DREADFULLY. FEW.
Walking around in the town where I work, around the mall, around some of the streets in town, and even at a church I volunteer at, in about a week and a half, NO HITS. Â Needless to say, I’ve had to adjust my expectations from ‘unbridled orgy’ to ‘dust bowl’. Â I pretty much had to go squat in my local Gamestop for awhile to even bring home a single connection (and even that was probably an employee).
I haven’t yet done much in any specific 3DS title with StreetPass, though I’m discovering that many of them have some optional in-game something you can do, typically exchanging in-game items and/or competing against other players.
Ultimately, even though I heard about and understood the overall idea of StreetPass when it was first introduced years ago, it wasn’t until I could actually participate that I realized its full potential, filling a niche somewhere between gaming online with friends and complete strangers (but then, Nintendo is pretty good at finding those niches). Â I’m not a fan of the disturbing level of racist / anti-semitic / otherwise asshole-ishness you get from random grouping in titles like Call of Duty (where there’s no real filter per se), but playing with the same people all the time, while fun and reliably sane, can get old without some new blood mixed in.
What I’ve experienced so far in the mostly ‘on-rails’ participation you get between yourself and others with StreetPass is perhaps a little from both worlds; rarely is the service central to a game and you can only customize certain things and only so much text, but as a player you’re rewarded by sharing responsibly with others, and injecting a little of your own personality into the DNA of someone else’s game experience, keeping a fresh glaze on what might otherwise become stale much faster. Â Without your hair being set on fire fromÂ Galaxy-Class verbal abuse.