Hi, my name is Craig, and I’m addicted to StreetPass.
It all started when I saw the green light on the hinge of my 3DS kick on while I was eating my Panda Express. Someone had just walked by with their own system, and for a split second those two systems chatted with each other and traded info from Street Fighter IV, Nintendogs, and the built-in Mii Plaza.
Right then and there, I was hooked. And I didn’t even do anything but carry my system with me.
StreetPass is this unassuming feature of the 3DS, and you won’t know how cool it is until it happens to you. Nintendo advertised this feature right from the start — it’s essentially Tag Mode developed on the Nintendo DS way back in 2004 for the original Nintendogs, but evolved to be aware without the game in the system.
The original Tag Mode was insanely restrictive. To get a transfer, two people have to A) have the game, B) have the game running in its tag mode, C) have the system on them, and D) come within a hundred feet of each other with this criteria. You’re playing the odds that you’ll never get a hit in your entire lifetime.
StreetPass is much more open solution. As long as the mode is enabled, both in your Settings and via the Wireless switch on the side, your Nintendo 3DS is always looking out for other systems, sniffing out data from games that are StreetPass compatible. Nintendogs sends dogs with photos and items. Street Fighter IV trades custom teams of figurines for a turn-based battle. Ridge Racer 3DS hands over ghost data for specific time trial tracks.
After that day of StreetPass initiation, I’ve had my 3DS in my possession. I’ve been on walks and riding my bike in areas that I would expect 3DS systems to be populated. Shopping centers, strip malls, department stores. Every once and a while I’ll get a hit, but some days my system simply looks at me with a shrug.
It does help that I have a housemate who also has a 3DS. Every morning his walk to work takes him just close enough to my docked 3DS so I can get another Mii Plaza visit — and now that our systems are aware of each other after more than two StreetPasses, we can even leave personal messages to each other. I have enough space for “Do the dishes!” but I haven’t used that one yet.
Wondercon swung by the San Francisco area this weekend, and it’s here where I wanted to experience the critical mass. I expected a convention full of comic book nerds to be with 3DS, and they did not disappoint. It was here where I experienced the small limitation of StreetPass: each game has a designated cap of user trades, and once that cap is hit you have to clear it out or no more StreetPassing. At Wondercon I was filling up the 10-person limit in Mii Plaza almost every hour, and Street Fighter IV about every four. These events of tens of thousands isn’t exactly a “real world” scenario for StreetPass, so I tried not to let it spoil me that I was getting 3DS hits every time I walked the convention floor.
And now I look at public 3DS gamers in disgust when I see them playing their systems without the Wi-Fi light blinking. Selfish no-good players trying to conserve batteries WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??! You’re not doing me any good having a system that’s not giving me the stuff I want.
Today I landed a StreetPass hit at the local Target while shopping for underwear, and that satisfied my craving for the day.
Some words of advice for developers working on StreetPass-compatible games: don’t hide the “Enable” option, or you won’t get many people utilizing it. Have the gamer opt in the second they turn on the game for the first time. Also, don’t be lame in your StreetPass support: give us a reason to designate one of the 12 StreetPass slots in our system to your game. There aren’t 12 games on the 3DS that support the feature, but by this summer we’re going to have to discriminate — especially when Nintendo opens up the 3DS Shop for digital downloads.