StreetPass is certainly one of the most charming features of the Nintendo 3DS, allowing owners of the handheld to exchange data for various games and applications by simply walking past them. At conventions like PAX Prime, you already know tons of 3DS owners were frequently checking who and how many people they just picked up by simply walking around. It’s a neat and light feature that has always been there just to give owners something else to do with their 3DS.
For a long while, the only use for amassing these hordes of adorable strangers in your system was for Puzzle Swap and Find Mii. One game has you collecting one puzzle piece from anyone in order to unlock a gorgeous 3D image to just gawk at, and the other is a miniature role-playing game where you use strangers as minions to face different monsters in battle. It’s cute and all, but checking both of these really only took about 10 minutes out of your day. Sure, it adds up, but there was a lot of untapped potential for the StreetPass Mii Plaza, until they released four new games for people to get the most out of StreetPass.
Nintendo has since added four third-party titles, Mii Force, Flower Town, Warrior’s Way, and Monster Manor, to the roster of mini-games available for purchase. My first thought was, “Well, are these any good?” Puzzle Swap and Find Mii I & II have always been cute, but they’re free, which could justify the fact that there’s not very much to them. If I were to pay for more of these games, I expect them to be more like–well–games. You can pick them up for $5 each or grab all four for $15, but let’s see if you should give them a shot.
If you happen to buy any one of the four new StreetPass games, let it be Good-Feel’s Mii Force. It’s essentially a top-down arcade shooter similar to Xevious, and you use up to ten of the Miis you’ve collected via StreetPass as your miniature battalion to collect gems and shoot enemies for a high score. The few dialogue scenes have an excellent sense of humor, and it’s a very solid and often frantic arcade shooter, that gets pretty challenging by the end of the game. Seeing other people’s high scores ignites this little competitive fire inside of you, driving you to get the highest score and as many Miis as you can to blast your way through the levels.
Assuming you check the StreetPass Mii Plaza once a day, it would probably take several weeks for you to play through the entirety of Mii Force, making it the shortest of the four. Once you’ve beaten the game though, you can attempt to tackle the entire game in one sitting, and, suffice to say, it’s no walk in the park. Mii Force may be the shortest, but it’s certainly the funnest as well.
There is something endearing about watching a garden slowly grow, letting the see the fruits of your labor. GREZZO’s Flower Town is definitely more for the casual gamer, as it’s pretty much just growing flowers, earning money, and decorating your garden. There’s a nice amount of complexity to the flower-growing mechanics, as parent flowers and colors dictate what your latest flower will look like. It’s also very satisfy to grow one of the game’s special flowers, like these strange, glowing pumpkin lamp flowers, and of course your traditional roses and such.
While it may not seem that way at first, there are loads of customization options for this otherwise simple game. I overheard someone at PAX Prime describing it perfectly as something nice to just go back home at night and check out what you’ve grown and how your garden is shaping up. The biggest problem though is probably Mr. Mendel, your flower mentor, who just won’t shut the hell up. Every time you boot up the game he just gives his same monologue reminding you about seeds and other stuff no one cares about after the fifth time hearing it. Nevertheless, the mystery of finding out what you’ll grow next is enough to keep you coming back to Flower Town.
Think extreme rock, paper, scissors. Or paper, scissors, rock, if you’re from the less awesome West coast (fight me). While probably the prettiest of the four games, Spike Chunsoft’s Warrior’s Way is also the most shallow. You have an growing army that you use to conquer other emperors and their countries through a glorified game of rock, paper, scissors, or in this case, archers, horsemen, and swordsmen. Every few levels, you can use up a large amount of units to fortify your castle, but there doesn’t seem to be any use for this other than making your castle a story taller, even though you hardly ever see it.
Play Coins are very useful in all the other games for when you just haven’t passed by enough people on a given day, but using them in Warrior’s Way is, for some reason, the most costly for the least results. Armies can grow very quickly by encountering other emperors to challenge or greet peacefully, but using your Play Coins to speed it up on slower days really doesn’t do much. While definitely the weakest of the four, it’s still fun to organize your thousands or millions of troops in an intense game of rock, paper, scissors.
As expected, the last of the games is just as charming as the rest. Monster Manor has you using tetromino-like shapes from people you’ve passed by to create the rooms on every floor of the manor until you find the stairs and proceed to the next floor. Monster Manor boasts a slightly convoluted RPG-ish system of collecting items, leveling up your weapons, and using different weapons against different monsters, but you really only need one strong weapon to face everything. Still, there’s a lot of room for strategy in selecting how to place your rooms to obtain the best possible rewards.
You’ll be collecting a ton of items that may seem mostly useless, but the meat of the game is really in encountering the various enemies. Although any weapon will do, it’s always a treat to engage in adorable battles with ghosts and monsters. Every five floors, you’ll encounter a boss battle which is really the biggest challenge of the game as you try to time your attacks and guards accordingly, whittling away their health until you’re victorious. It’s the most satisfying part of the game, making the climb all the more enticing, and when Monster Manor really regains its focus.
In all, these StreetPass titles may be worth your time. All four of them are very different from each other, and offer unique experiences. I wouldn’t expect any sort of majesties out of these titles, as they’re relatively slim in content, but checking them constantly over a period of months will give you much more than your money’s worth. Some can get the heart pounding, and others are just to kick back and relax. The most important thing about them though is how you can view your progress. Nothing is more gratifying than seeing a wild arsenal of spaceships blasting through a level, a gorgeous garden villa, a massive army of millions of troops, or floors upon floors of rooms you’ve put together yourself; the fruits of your labor hardly go unnoticed.
The quality of each title makes it worth purchasing all four for $15, basically giving you the fourth one for free. If you’re constantly getting people through StreetPass either on college campus, at work, conventions, or just in the city, you’ll get a lot out of these titles. Similarly, they put the 3DS Play Coins to good use, giving more reason to take your 3DS with you wherever. They may not be home runs, by any means, but they’re cheap, fun, approachable, and welcome additions to the StreetPass Mii Plaza and the Nintendo 3DS library.
[+Mii Force is superb] [+Lots of customization options] [+Great value] [+Satisfying to track your progress] [+Charmingly and occasionally funny] [+Tons of gameplay variety] [+Sure to last for months] [+Great ways to spend Play Coins in most of them] [-Play Coins mostly useless in Warrior’s Way] [-Mr. Mendel, shut the hell up] [-Superfluous items in Monster Manor]