Review by Ryan Harrison
"Let's get together..."
StreetPass Mii Plaza is a freebie software title built in to every Nintendo 3DS model (including revamped versions such as the 3DS XL and 2DS) that comes with a certain number of mini-games that mostly emphasise and make use of the Play Coins you accumulate, and number of StreetPass hits you gain, by taking your 3DS with you on the go. It has two mini-games available for free from the off, known in this region by the titles Puzzle Swap, a jigsaw puzzle-esque game wherein you attempt to complete a grid that composes a picture of a hit Nintendo game by collecting pieces; and StreetPass Quest (aka Find Mii for some users) that goes with a loose RPG style of using other Mii characters to fight monsters in a series of dungeons before coming to the rescue of the king, a character based on your own Mii character model.
These days, Nintendo seem to be putting more emphasis on interactive games that involve playing with others as hinted by the name of the 'Wii' console (sounds like 'we' as in 'us', the two I's at the end represent two people side-by-side), and a number of DS and 3DS handheld games allowing users to link up in order to play together (for example trading in Pokemon games).
StreetPass Mii Plaza, available from the off along with the 3DS upon its launch in 2011, does a great job of making use of the 3DS' wireless technology and new StreetPass feature, offering a good deal of content and a lot of longevity in order to give the player plenty of incentive both to play the console a lot more, and to take it out and about with you! What exactly is this 'StreetPass' I keep referring to, you may ask? It is a feature in which if you have it enabled, allows you to gain information on other 3DS users when you walk past them. In more precise terms, their public data is registered to your 3DS system, as yours is to theirs. When you encounter the other user, their Mii character will show up in your home plaza, and you'll be able to view some of their Mii's information (e.g. name, birthday, game currently playing, favourite pet and hobbies).
The other major theme that the game makes use of are the Play Coins. When you close your 3DS system while it is still turned on, it enters into 'Sleep Mode'. You can then place the system in your pocket, and while you walk around, it will count the number of steps you take which are later displayed at the top of the screen in the 3DS' home menu. For every 100 steps you take, you earn 1 Play Coin, and you can earn up to a maximum of 10 Play Coins in a day (the counter resets at midnight).
Besides the two mini-games that come available with StreetPass Mii Plaza upon first opening it up, there are a number of side features, achievement lists, sporadic updates and plenty more mini-games available to download, if you are able to get your 3DS connected online. For the purpose of this review, I'm going to focus primarily on the universal mini-games that come with it Puzzle Swap and StreetPass Quest.
Puzzle Swap is a very straightforward mini-game; basically, the idea in this game is to collect grid-square pieces to complete a picture. There are two ways you can do this, the first being that for each new Mii character you meet through StreetPass, you'll be able to take a copy of a grid square they have collected and add it to your own (ones you don't own but they do are denoted by blue squares with question marks on them). There are also special pink-coloured pieces that are only obtainable via StreetPass, so you'll be aiming to look out for these and get them whenever you can.
Secondly, you can opt to spend 2 Play Coins to purchase a random puzzle piece to go onto a panel that you have started and are yet to finish. This has its good and its bad; namely in that if you've got one or more panels with plenty of blank spaces, you'll start to get them filled up quickly. However, there is also the chance that you could end up getting a piece of a puzzle you already have (possibly several times over), which therefore means you waste 2 Play Coins should that happen (though there are a few achievements for getting several of the same puzzle piece over, so it's not entirely all bad). However, unlike StreetPass, you WON'T be able to get pieces for a panel you are yet to start collecting for.
Each panel is a picture of a Nintendo game; to name a few there are Metroid: Other M, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Galaxy 2, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Pikmin and Donkey Kong Country Returns. You only start out with one panel to fill out, but by meeting other users through StreetPass, you'll be able to get pieces for new boards you don't yet have. New panels are occasionally becoming available, so there is plenty of fun and longevity in looking around to collect all the pieces you possibly can. Also, your reward for finishing an entire panel is being able to look at an animated, 3D image of the game it depicts, which is well neat.
StreetPass Quest is an RPG-style mini-game that relies on collecting Mii characters via StreetPass to act as heroes in the story. The game does indeed have a basic plot that involves your own character acting as a monarch of a fictional kingdom, and is kidnapped and imprisoned in a cage. The objective is to go through several rooms and fight a handful of various enemies. This is done with Mii characters you have encountered in StreetPass, or you can spend 2 Play Coins to hire a generic 'wanderer' character.
I'll firstly explain the advantage of StreetPass characters; namely in that they have experience levels that also equate to the amount of damage they can do with their physical Sword attacks. StreetPass characters will always start out at Level 1, but the same character gains a level when you encounter them again. A StreetPass character can reach up to a maximum Level 7, whereas wanderers purchased with Play Coins will only be either Level 1 or 2. Higher level characters obviously do higher damage for every attack, and could very well help you vanquish the tough later foes and get you through the game quicker.
Besides physical sword attacks, all characters are also able to cast a certain magic according to their colour (for StreetPass characters their favourite colour assigned when they were created; for wanderers this is random). The different colours of magic have different effects, some more beneficial in certain scenarios than others. For example, green magic does no damage to enemies and after casting ends the hero's turn, but the next hero will have added strength. Purple magic can poison enemies and cause them to take damage between turns, coming in useful if you have a large party.
There are times in the game where you will NEED a certain type of magic to progress for example lighting dark rooms, or when fighting some enemies who wield a coloured shield they are resistant to damage unless attacked by a warrior with a colour that matches that of the shield. The important thing to note is that characters can normally only attack once per round using the sword lets them attempt three physical attacks (although attacks could possibly miss) before an enemy will scare them away; while once a character has cast a magic spell, they 'become fatigued and turn back'. It is, however, possible to earn another attacking round if you can finish off an enemy or render them unable to attack (i.e. if you freeze them or put them to sleep). This is a game that is all about progress, so how much progress you make in a single sitting of StreetPass Quest could very well depend on the choices you make in each battle. Once your party of heroes is exhausted, you cannot progress any further in the game until you have acquired more.
Like many an other RPG game, the enemies you encounter have various hit point levels and possible weaknesses to a certain type of element, so there is a bit of strategy involved in finding out what works best against certain enemies depending on your own line-up. There are occasional rewards in that you may find a treasure chest upon clearing a room that contains a hat, which can then be adorned on your own StreetPass Mii character's head. There are several of these, and other achievements, to gain by playing StreetPass Quest repeatedly, so this game will give you plenty of longevity and replay value in short spurts.
There are also a handful of other features available to look at from the main plaza screen, that include an accomplishments list, that fills up as you fulfil certain tasks accordingly for example, meeting a certain number of Miis, meeting a Mii on its birthday, making more progress in StreetPass Quest and completing panels in Puzzle Swap, to name a few. The StreetPass Map allows the player to view home cities of other users met, on a map that colours in for each Mii from a different region you encounter. Lastly is the Music Player, allowing you to listen to various soundtracks of the game you have previously heard, should you wish to do so. Completing every one of these in their entirety could prove to be a very tough, and time-consuming task, so this will at least give you plenty of playing time!
Graphics of the game are generally fine, without anything major to complain about. The 3D effects are demonstrated particularly well and the Mii models have a unique and nice, charming look to them. Backgrounds and surroundings are colourful, and the level design of StreetPass Quest is not too shabby. The 3D pictures one can view from the Puzzle Swap mini-game look especially nice and bring some life into these pictures once they're completed. These are very nice and solid graphics in general, and while you're probably going to be playing other games for your 3DS console that have better, more diverse or perhaps even more advanced 3D graphics, StreetPass Mii Plaza does the job fine without any particular glaring problems.
The music and sounds of the game are okay; the soundtrack is mixed up pretty well for the StreetPass Quest game, while the main plaza screen and Puzzle Swap mini-game tend to stick with simpler, yet still catchy and recognisable background themes. Music is in general good and fitting, varied nicely and rather well-composed; by no means the absolute most classic music you're going to hear from a video game, but again, with no major problems and unless you really play the game for several prolonged periods, it doesn't get too tiring to listen to.
The game's shining point is its longevity factor, as this is one that will take months, if not even years, to fully finish. Since you can only earn up to 10 Play Coins a single day, getting through either of the two main mini-games this way is going to take quite a while and the amount of StreetPass hits you earn all really depends on whether or not you have easy access to a densely populated area of 3DS users. (Hint: Game stores are a StreetPass goldmine!)
There are plenty of Puzzle Swap panels to collect for, and plenty of new ones coming out that will keep things going on even further. StreetPass Quest also relies on characters with certain abilities to get through and could end up stalling you for a while, and if you're playing on through with wanderers, their lower levels means their attacks are generally weaker, so they'll take a while to defeat most enemies. The accomplishments list, for those who like to get the most they can from their games, also gives you plenty of replay value due to StreetPass Quest requiring multiple playthroughs in order to achieve a handful of them. Getting these achievements is all that is worth replaying StreetPass Quest for, however, so otherwise once you've gotten through that mini-game, there's nothing new to see afterwards.
All in all, StreetPass Mii Plaza is a jolly wee freebie game that is worth the time investing in, but it isn't anything that will get the excitement levels raised. As said, it's more a fun progress tracker than a testing, challenging or engrossing video game, but it is a good excuse to invest plenty of time into your 3DS and keep it with you on the go. It makes great use of many of the 3DS' new and finer features like its 3D graphics, StreetPass and Play Coin pedometer. Its repetitive nature may hurt it a little, but Nintendo do keep things fresh with new features and content occasionally becoming available for the game in system updates.
Ideal for what it was intended to be, do make sure you check this thing out once you invest in a 3DS handheld. Just don't expect something revolutionary or standing alongside the best games you've ever played.
Seven Pixelated Mario Caps out of ten.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 07/02/14
Game Release: StreetPass Mii Plaza (EU, 03/25/11)
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