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StreetPass Shift

Nintendo's "National StreetPass Weekend" marks a change in how Nintendo of America regards North American StreetPass users.

Article by Nadia Oxford, .

If you carry around your Nintendo 3DS, then you probably get a rush when you peer into your bag and find its contents lit faintly by a green glow of your StreetPass light. This split-second exchange of information with other 3DS owners is one of the most satisfying things about owning the system, but many North Americans have complained that they don't experience it nearly often enough.

Some people live for that little green light.

The StreetPass feature thrives in dense urban areas like Osaka and Tokyo, but much of the United States and Canada is composed of sprawling rural communities where Nintendo 3DS owners don't come into contact much. Nintendo is trying to bridge the distance between isolated 3DS owners in both countries through National StreetPass Weekend, which begins on December 13 and continues through December 15.

StreetPass Scramble

"The romantic in me is hoping we can bring everyone in America and Canada closer together this weekend," Nintendo of America translator Bill Trinen told USgamer in an interview. "My immediate hope is to see everyone go out and just bring their 3DS with them when they go see The Hobbit or do some last-minute Christmas shopping."

Nintendo already has "Nintendo Zones" set up throughout the United States and Canada to assist the StreetPass-challenged. When you bring your Nintendo 3DS to one of roughly 29,000 hotspots scattered across the countries, you pick up the StreetPass info of the previous six Nintendo 3DS owners to visit the area. However, National StreetPass Weekend literally mixes things up by scrambling the queued StreetPass signals. So if you regularly go into the local McDonalds and keep getting StreetPass data from Moonshine George down the lane, you can actually expect to grab information from a Nintendo Zone user anywhere in the United States or Canada.

Or maybe you'll be supremely unlucky and get stuck with Moonshine George again.

Different Countries, Different StreetPass Attitudes

When Nintendo of America upgraded Nintendo Zones earlier this year to allow the hotspots to upload and download StreetPass info, some 3DS owners took it as a sign the company is getting serious about improving the admittedly dismal state of StreetPass in North America. There was never any doubt StreetPass would work beautifully in Japan (the feature is based off Nintendogs' successful "Bark Mode", which let dog owners communicate with each other in passing) but was Nintendo naïve - even myopic - to assume StreetPass would find the same measure of usefulness in the States' sprawling suburbs?

Trinen doesn't believe that's the case. Nintendo, he says, has noticed both regions use StreetPass very differently, and for a while was content to cater to the countries' StreetPass needs accordingly.

Places like the PAX Handheld Lounge are Grand Central Station for Streetpass.

Whereas 3DS users in Japan tend to carry their systems with them on a daily basis, "In North America, StreetPass is much more of an event. If you're at shows like PAX or San Diego Comic-Con, there are groups of people that will just spend a lot of time hanging out and StreetPassing.

"For a while, we were focused on those events. At events like Comic-Con over the past few years, we've set up bean bag chairs and had Streetpass lounges within our gaming lounge at the Marriot. We've really encouraged people to enjoy the StreetPass feature where we knew people were engaging in it."

Making StreetPass a Habit

Those bean bag chairs aren't going anywhere, but the introduction of National StreetPass Weekend demonstrates Nintendo would like to see more North Americans get into the habit of carrying their 3DS everywhere with them.

"The challenge for us is that it's kind of hard to get people to go out of their way to create a new regular habit," Trinen says. "We're trying to find ways to help people experience StreetPass within their normal routine with the hope that when they do start to experience it more, then they'll understand why it's so much fun. Then they'll be motivated to go out and find new ways to StreetPass."

In the future, everyone has a 3DS. Everyone, comrade.

According to Trinen, The positive buzz around the first National StreetPass Weekend is a good sign - and was enough to motivate Nintendo into starting the event on Friday rather than Saturday. "We'll take a look and see at how this weekend goes, and from there we'll look at other opportunities we may have [for future National StreetPass Weekends]."

More StreetPass, More Games

But what instigated Nintendo of America's StreetPass publicity blitz? It turns out recently-released StreetPass-based games like Warrior's Way, Flower Town, and Monster Manor are major motivators.

"At NoA headquarters, I'm able to pick up a lot of StreetPasses on a daily basis," says Trinen. "When those games launched, I found I was spending a lot of time every week and having a lot of fun just playing the StreetPass games. So we really wanted to essentially create an environment where you don't have to be at NOA headquarters to be able to enjoy what's fun about those games."

Can we expect more StreetPass games in the future? "Our development teams in Japan have been really excited about to see how well the StreetPass games have done in all markets," Trinen says. "They're definitely looking at opportunities - but they're also looking at ways they can take advantage of StreetPass opportunities within other software that's coming out. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a good example of that, where you're able to meet and fight the Shadow Links."

You can expect more mini-games like A Link Between Worlds' Shadow Link in the future.

How To Make Friends in the Meantime

If this first National StreetPass Weekend is successful, it will beget more. But what's a starving Nintendo 3DS owner supposed to do in the meantime?

Trinen has a few suggestions. "The best thing you can do is, anytime you're going out where there's going to be a lot of people, bring your 3Ds with you. Sporting events, any place where we see a lot of people gathering, even just the movie theatre - as long as you're out and about, it becomes very easy to drop by a McDonalds or a Starbucks or wherever you see a AT&T Wi-Fi hot spot. If you do that, you're probably going to get about six StreetPass hits right there."

Better yet, carry your 3DS with you everywhere at all times and surf the edge of a growing trend. "I set up my 3DS at the door on Halloween and I got a few from the kids that were out Trick or Treating," Trinen says. "My hope is that we'll start to see more people just carrying their 3DS with them like that and trying to get more StreetPass hits. It's such a unique feature of the Nintendo 3DS."

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Comments 16

  • Avatar for UnknownJones #1 UnknownJones 3 years ago
    I was skeptical of my friend who owned a 3DS and raved about the StreetPass games, but I finally picked one up and I've been hooked.

    Now I'm StreetPassin' all day, every day.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #2 touchofkiel 3 years ago
    Love the idea, but I don't have many (any?) games that really take advantage of it. Just a single game like DQIX would be aces, and convince me to carry it when I'm out and about.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #3 nadiaoxford 3 years ago
    @touchofkiel The StreetPass games are actually good! And the Shadow Link battles in ALBW are aces. I'd love to see something similar to the DragonQuest IX inn, though.
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  • Avatar for MHMason #4 MHMason 3 years ago
    StreetPass was one of those features that I was really excited about when I picked up a 3DS at launch, but in all honesty I haven't really had a chance to dig into it until a few months ago.

    The opening paragraph is very truthful; even though I know where all the wi-fi hotspots are that I can get a pass from, the green light is comforting. Whereas before I was getting a couple of passes here and there, I now know I can get roughly twenty of them at one trip to the grocery store.

    I can finally catch up in Find Mii and Puzzle Swap, three years behind all those people who get to go to conventions and such.

    I'm actually considering downloading the additional games because I could actually play them.

    I'll be taking full advantage of this weekend, for sure.
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  • Avatar for bionicjim #5 bionicjim 3 years ago
    This is certainly addictive. I was always fascinated by this feature and bought two additional systems so my kids could play and we could actually progress. Now that the street passes are so easy to come by at places I frequent, I've been having a blast. Kids love it too. I was wondering how these games compare to Facebook games from a few years ago, which I never tried but have been told had same qualities where you have to meet others to progress.
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  • Avatar for metalangel #6 metalangel 3 years ago
    I live in Toronto and take the subway to work every day. Sometimes I walk home, passing right through downtown and lots of major shopping areas. Sometimes I never get any Streetpasses. It sucks!

    Other times I've gotten the maximum of ten!
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #7 nadiaoxford 3 years ago
    @metalangel I'm in Toronto, too. I've gone to game-related events where I received zip StreetPasses. Then I get ten just walking down the street. Who knows.

    By the way, did you attend either of the Zelda symphonies? StreetPass mania!Edited December 2013 by nadiaoxford
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #8 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    Streetpass is an addicting feature. I do love seeing the green light, knowing that I can make some more progress in my games. The initial free games make great use of the Streetpass. However, the downloadable games are a bit of a mixed bag. I like all of them as games, but they are a bit heavy with loading time and unskippable dialog that pops up every time I try to play them. This is especially a problem with the damned gardening game, where it takes several minutes just to do something as simple as watch your plant grow. Still, overall I love the streetpass games.
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  • Avatar for metalangel #9 metalangel 3 years ago
    @nadiaoxford Luck of the draw, I guess. I have the most luck (I think) at Yonge-Dundas Square, I've got people from all over the world there. I should just go walk around the international departures and arrivals at the airport and see if I can fill in any countries!
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  • Avatar for Folkenhellfang #10 Folkenhellfang 3 years ago
    So far you can't beat a good convention or some other gaming culture gathering if today's results are any indication. My wife and I did some major Xmas shopping today and we came away with about 12 new street passes.

    I've been carrying my 3DS with me whenever I leave the house since launch. You get to know when you can expect the green light to shine, but the relay system adds to the random people you get. I hope tomorrow goes better, I only need a few more core pieces for the new panels...
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  • Avatar for Critical_Hit #11 Critical_Hit 3 years ago
    I don't get the appeal of this thing AT ALL. I think it's just another one of those addict-based things from this past generation of games, like Achievements. Things I hate, basically, because people take it way too far (hence, "addict behavior"). There has never been a time in any game where Streetpass-unlocked content has knocked my pants off.

    I've never had my mind blown by new puzzle rooms in Super Mario 3D Land, y'know? Just seems like an annoyance - just like when a Trophy/Achievement thing pops up during a game, like my attention is something that should be diverted from Ninja Gaiden ΣSigma 2 to find out that I killed 500 goons or something else useless. *blows raspberry*

    I don't even turn my 3DS on when I got to PAX East anymore. I find it that annoying. Definitely not a critical feature of the hardware. People should be happy enough that there are fantastic games from many Japanese developers/publishers on the console.
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  • Avatar for Folkenhellfang #12 Folkenhellfang 3 years ago
    @Critical_Hit I read anti-cheevo comments like this and wonder if posters like these ever saw a high score at an arcade. Trophies are the contemporary equivalent to the high score that sat atop the title screen of every cabinet in the bygone arcade. There have always been people who don't care about high scores and cheevos, but it doesn't make them matter less or be less fun because of that.
    Look at movies like King of Kong if you think they don't matter. It's a little piece of glory that goes with our pastime, nothing wrong with that.Edited December 2013 by Folkenhellfang
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