The Nintendo 3DS’s best feature was the under-appreciated StreetPass


Ten years in the past right now the 3DS debuted in Japan. It adopted the DS household and the large promoting level for this third era of Nintendo’s dual-screened methods was the addition of 3D graphics. And but, what individuals keep in mind most about the 3DS isn’t that feature; in reality, many people simply turned the 3D off as soon as the novelty wore away. For myself and lots of others, the most memorable feature was StreetPass. Yes, StreetPass.

In case you’ve already forgotten, StreetPass was a social feature constructed into the handheld the place, as soon as it was enabled, allowed the 3DS to passively trade data with different methods in the fast space. Players may create a Mii character that may journey to different handhelds, and will then be utilized by the different participant (and vice versa) inside a number of video games inside the Mii Plaza and past. The dungeon-crawler ‘Find Mii’ was most likely the most well-known of those because it was included with the system, however I was notably enamored of a few of the ones you could possibly buy, like gardening title ‘Flower Town’ and ‘Feed Mii,’ a cooking simulator.


If you actually haven’t any robust emotions about StreetPass, it’s doubtless you’re certainly one of the many individuals who acquired little use out of it. The feature labored nice in densely populated areas like Tokyo, however much less so in a rustic like the United States the place most individuals drive to work.

I stay in New York and till just lately I was an everyday commuter on the subway. During the heyday of the 3DS, I may count on to select up a handful of StreetPass tags each day, loading them into my system and going by means of Puzzle Swap and different video games on the manner residence from work. The gameplay wasn’t very deep, however it didn’t actually should be — it was excellent for a couple of minutes distraction on public transportation. Inversely that made it horrible for individuals who didn’t take public transportation, as their 3DS time was extra more likely to be at residence, immediately competing in opposition to consoles and computer systems with deeper gameplay. The Mii Plaza video games simply got here throughout as shallow compared.

People play video games on handheld devices at the PAX East gaming conference in Boston, Massachusetts April 7, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY SOCIETY)

Jessica Rinaldi / reuters

However, avid gamers are normally ripe for a problem and, for a lot of, StreetPass grew to become a pastime in itself. My ex and I used to go out to McDonald’s on specially-announced ‘StreetPass Weekends’ to seize the Miis of celebrities and Nintendo workers from the shops’ SpotPasses, and typically we’d stroll previous playgrounds and gymnasiums in the hope that teenagers would have a 3DS stowed away of their bag. Living in the identical metropolis as the Nintendo World retailer was a giant plus. Airports had been additionally a bonanza, particularly internationally — my ex even lent me his 3DS on certainly one of my solo journeys to Europe, so I may snag him overseas StreetPasses. So I was carrying round two methods in my backpack for over every week, and I managed to hyperlink up with individuals from international locations like Austria and Slovakia.

Of course, all of this paled compared to the bonanza that awaited us in the 3DS’s residence nation of Japan, particularly in Tokyo. The two of us would get on the metro and the notification gentle would go off; a prepare would move in the other way and the gentle would go off once more. Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara ended up being a bonanza; we walked outdoors the retailer round midday and located a specially-designed space (with signage!) for StreetPass trade. Dozens of individuals sat or stood in the space, loading up Miis, taking part in by means of the mini video games, after which loading up much more. Once the deluge slowed to the trickle my ex walked round together with his 3DS to seize any we missed and several other Japanese individuals laughed out loud, as a result of effectively, he’s a bearded white dude with a bearded white Mii.

Ian Levenstein doing StreetPass outside Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara in Tokyo

Kris Naudus

This form of pleasure of connection wasn’t one thing that folks outdoors of Japan acquired plenty of mileage out of, until they had been the very particular form of gamer who took their 3DS methods to conventions. Conventions had been the mom load for StreetPass assortment, from comedian conventions like San Diego to video game-themed exhibits like PAX. In these circumstances the 10 StreetPass-at-a-time restrict appeared much less bold and extra stingy as standing in a single place for a couple of minutes may yield dozens, if not tons of of tags. You may simply spend the entire occasion simply clearing out your queue, and I did in reality, move plenty of time on lengthy traces or in boring panels doing simply that.

Unfortunately, Nintendo realized the potential of those gatherings too late. While it did use occasions like PAX to launch new Puzzle Swap artwork, the firm didn’t introduce options catered towards devoted StreetPass collectors till 2016, 5 years into the system’s lifespan — and one 12 months in need of the launch of its substitute, the Switch. At that time you could possibly pay to improve your StreetPass queue to 100 slots, permitting you to passively collect StreetPass tags at occasions and play with them later. This was a paid feature which actually restricted its enchantment, however the variety of people that would take their 3DS to giant occasions, and the variety of people that would go to online game exhibits, interval, are additionally the sort who wouldn’t thoughts coughing up an additional $10 for the comfort of higher StreetPass administration (most likely additionally the sort who pay for Pokémon Bank).

BOSTON - MARCH 6: The huge PAX East gaming convention was held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Tired convention-goers relax on cushions on the floor. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Boston Globe through Getty Images

In the finish I constructed a group to be happy with: 50 states and territories in the US (solely lacking North and South Dakota), all of Canada, 30 prefectures of Japan, and components of dozens of different nations, together with Spain, France, Germany, Denmark, Mexico, Brazil and South Korea. I’ve additionally collected virtually each potential birthday too (one other feature added as a premium in a while). And after all there are the Miis themselves, 3,660 tags of all number of physique shapes and colours and costumes — the extra devoted StreetPassers would even use the custom-made greeting to tag the occasions they had been at, so you understand you grabbed this Mii from New York Comic Con or that Mii from PAX South. In a manner my Mii Plaza serves as a form of digital passport, of the international locations I’ve visited, the occasions I’ve attended and the individuals I’ve encountered, if solely fleetingly. I like my Switch, however I miss the problem and group of the 3DS StreetPass system.




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