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Hands On: StreetPass Plaza's Downloadable Content

Posted by Mike Mason

Play Coin guzzlers

A few days ago, Nintendo launched a surprise update to the 3DS's StreetPass Plaza in Europe and Japan. Previously home to Puzzle Swap and StreetPass Quest alone, users can now purchase a further four games to play with any Miis that they encounter when out and about. As with the other Plaza games, you can use the Mii of anybody that you StreetPass in the new titles, whether they own the extra content or not. Interestingly, none of these new games have been developed in-house at Nintendo – they're all built by third party outfits that you might well recognise from previous collaborations, which goes some way to explaining the need for users to pay up.

At £4.49 / €4.99 each, the four games are a tough sell on first glance. Those who have the StreetPass bug, however, will know how addictive the original games in the Plaza are and how long they can last – these are games that go on and on, unlikely to be completely quickly due to their restricted nature. They're reliant on meeting or walking by other 3DS owners, and the paltry 10 Play Coins available each day don't speed things up much. It's worth noting that, if you buy all four newcomers at once, you can snatch them up for a buy-three-get-one-free bundle price of £13.49 / €14.99 – the offer pops up when you begin to purchase your first game.

Given that the first games were built into the system and have been expanded several times for the grand total of nothing, some might feel uncomfortable to see new games offered up as pay-for downloadable content. But we've already talked about that monetisation decision elsewhere – let's take a look at what's available, how they stack up against the original StreetPass games and whether they're worth your eShop credit.

Starship troopers

StreetPass Squad is an arcade-style shoot 'em up by Good-Feel, the developer of the wonderfully woolly Kirby's Epic Yarn. As Squad Leader of the Mii Force, an intergalactic law enforcement team, it's up to you to recruit new members and take on the might of the Gold Bone Gang, a crew of notorious space pirates intent on stealing up anything of value throughout the universe. If you're running a bit short on collected Miis, you can hire up to 10 troops with Play Coins; old allies cost three Play Coins a pop, while mercenaries are two Coins each.

Your Mii drives the spaceship, and any others that you meet or hire provide your firepower by bolting onto the sides. Different weapons correspond to the shirt colours of companion Miis – a pink top will give you a Globular Cannon, which shoots out a goo that can roll along walls, while a Mii dressed in black becomes a gun that fires out bombs. Weapons can be positioned on the front of your craft in the centre, diagonally at the top or diagonally at the bottom, or in the centre on the back of the ship.

Weapon arrangement is completely your choice, and positions can be switched at any time on the touch screen so that you can adapt to any situation. You can also strengthen your offences by shifting Miis behind others, powering up the one in prime position. For example, you might lead with a fire-shooting red Mii and place a blue and a yellow Mii behind it for a single boosted source of firepower. Alternatively, you could set the red, blue and yellow Miis in entirely different positions for three separate bullet streams. There's no right answer, and often you have to switch pods around on the fly.

Weapons aren't strictly fixed into place in another way: you can rotate them right around your craft as much as you want by tapping the L and R buttons. Enemies can dart in from any direction, so it's important to keep the shoulder buttons clicking and those weapons spinning if you stand any chance of survival. If you're lucky, you can grab a power up that grants you temporary invincibility and 360 degrees of firepower – but without mastery of your own twisty cannons, you're going nowhere.

You never begin a stage with all your gathered Miis on ship – you have to collect them throughout, gradually powering up as you move along. Every time you're hit you lose a Mii recruit, and once they're all gone you lose a life. Generously, you're given three chances to complete a level per squad of Miis – and you're going to need them. The action is pretty straightforward in the opening world, but subsequent adventures become a lot tougher: the second world features falling blocks that can crush you and switches that need to be shot to open up doors, while the third opens with you attached to a crazy rollercoaster ride of doom. Each level ends with a boss too. Should you fail, you have to start the whole level again, and you're only allowed to complete one stage per group of Miis.

StreetPass Squad is probably the best value for money of the new StreetPass Plaza games and should last you quite a while. As well as the campaign levels, there's an emphasis on high scores too, so each stage is very replayable.

How does your garden grow?

StreetPass Garden should sprout some interest from any Puzzle Swap obsessives. With the help of Mr Mendel, this one gives you the opportunity to grow the digital garden of your dreams. It's certainly a leap away from Grezzo's previous output – it last worked on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition.

Of the four games, StreetPass Garden is the hardest one to get to grips with. It doesn't blossom into its true form for several sessions; luckily we saved up plenty of Play Coins for the very purpose of testing out this collection, so we were able to play a few days' worth of the game at once. Initially you are given a flower, and any Miis you've met trot into your garden and give it a nice drink of water. With enough sustenance it blooms into a bright and beautiful bit of flora, which can then be placed in your virtual garden.

Over the course of a few sessions, though, more depth is revealed. You can pop that plant on your pretty little patio, or you could keep it on hand and let it get watered more, producing seeds that can be used to grow new plants. Or you can venture to the shops and sell it on. Or you can get a job in a shop and use it to complete a customer request. There's quite a lot to take in, and spreading it out so broadly does get a little much.

The aim is to nurture all 20 species of flower and become a Master Gardener, but there are other variations to keep in mind. Each plant can come in different colours, and the seeds you gather each hold unique possibilities of new types or hues. Once a flower reaches maturity, what it produces is all down to the visitors of your garden and what colour shirt they're wearing.

There are shops that let you customise your garden too, such as a landscaping service that gives you access to new areas to decorate, or one that lets you buy all sorts of furniture to spruce things up. You can also buy seeds for any species of plant that you've already grown, or grab some new plant pots – the poor woman stuck selling those for the rest of her life isn't exactly the life of the party.

Once you've put together the best display you can muster, you can take photographs that are stored on your SD card. Grezzo's Ocarina of Time 3D gyroscope experience comes into play here, as you move the system about to get the perfect shot. If you're running short of help, you can also spend two Play Coins to bring back any Mii that has previously visited your StreetPass Plaza – though you don't get to pick who, so you could end up with anybody from that girl you sat next to on a bus two years ago to Satoru Iwata and his flashy golden trousers.

If you enjoy Puzzle Swap, as well as games such as Harvest Moon, StreetPass Garden could be worth a punt. It's the slowest of the new titles to get started, with the mildest aroma of a teeny tiny RPG, but don't give up – there's a lot to experiment with once it gets going.

World doMiination

StreetPass Battle thrilled us the most upon boot up, but unfortunately, due to the way it's set up, it's likely to be the game that you play the least. Or rather, the one you do the least in. It's a strategy title developed by Spike Chunsoft, of Mystery Dungeon fame, that pits you against the world as the most cheerful looking warmonger we've ever seen.

See all those people in your StreetPass Plaza? They're your army now. If you've met 700 unique people, your army's off to a good start; if there are only 12 bodies standing about, you've got some work to do. Anybody that passes you will add their own number of unique hits to yours, gradually building your army up into a fearsome horde.

Once you have a sizeable force to your name, you can try to invade enemy countries. Battles are rock-paper-scissors affairs: cavalry beat archers; archers beat infantry; infantry beat cavalry. Before a clash begins you're shown how the enemy's army is divided, and from there you split your own soldiers up into the classes that you think will work best by sliding some notches to dictate how much of your army will be cavalry, infantry or archers.

Fights are partially based on luck; you must guess which third of the enemy's army will march forth first and pick an appropriate counter from your own three sections. You can tip the balance in your favour with careful manipulation of your troop numbers, however; when distributing soldiers to types, indicators pop up on the slider. If one of your teams is marked by a gold medallion, it cannot lose no matter what the enemy throws out – if possible, the trick is to balance your army so that two of the thirds are unbeatable. Boiled down, it's a best-of-three rock-paper-scissors – win two of the three encounters and the country is yours, along with a portion of its army. If you're beaten, some of your own soldiers will run away.

As well as world domination, there's a secondary objective of building yourself the best castle ever. At the beginning you can select your favourite kind of castle – medieval, Japanese or futuristic – and make it bigger as you take over more of the world. You do have to trade off some of your soldiers if you want to bump it up a level, though.

It's a blast seeing thousands of Miis going to war, and it's one of the most interesting uses of StreetPass we've seen. The problem is the amount of time it takes to get anything done due to the amount of troops needed once you get to a certain point. If you're not getting much in the way of StreetPass hits, or the ones you are getting aren't delivering as many soldiers as you'd hope, it's going to take a long time to build up an army capable of conquering anything.

We've only won three of the 20 countries on offer and already need upwards of 4,000 soldiers to stand a chance of taking the next place – it's not going to happen for a while yet under normal circumstances. The Play Coin balance is also completely out of whack here, with a full daily allowance of ten Coins needed to generate an extra 300 soldiers, which is nothing when it comes to larger fights.

While we've enjoyed what we've played of it, due to these factors we can't see StreetPass Battle getting a lot of use if you're not regularly bumping into people with several hundred StreetPass hits to their name – more often than not, you'll collect however many you can and then choose the “do nothing” option every day until you eventually have enough to continue. As such, the price point feels too steep for this one.

Spirited away

Prope's StreetPass Mansion rounds off the selection. As a paranormal investigator, you've got to creep up 30 floors of haunted house, taking out ghosts and ghouls along the way. It's easier said than done, though, as there's no clear path through the house – the maps have all been shredded – and there aren't any visible stairs.

You encounter the petrified Miis of anybody that you've StreetPassed as you go, and each gives you a map piece, up to five blocks in size, that matches the colour of their shirt. You then slot the piece onto the current level's floorplan, rotating it with L and R to find the best fit, and your Mii trots forward to the new area created by the latest map piece. The aim is to uncover the stairs so that you can ascend to the next level and eventually climb to the top. If you're scant on StreetPass hits, you can hire a fellow investigator for two Play Coins.

If you place pieces of the same colour next to each other to form an area that's a square, a treasure chest is generated – and for every extra two blocks you put together, another will appear. These can contain health potions, new weapons and other special items to help you out.

Put different coloured pieces aside one another, though, and a door is created between them. When your Mii opens the door to move on, there's a reasonable chance that he or she will encounter a ghost that needs a busting, at which point the game switches into battle mode. Fights are pretty simple; you hit A to fire your weapon at the spirit, but you have to keep an eye on your battery meters. Every shot uses up a segment from battery energy meter, and once it's drained you have no choice but to wait while it recharges.

You can also use items that you've picked up to help out, or guard by pressing L – though that drains battery too. If things get too much, you can retreat by holding down on the D-Pad. You'll want to avoid doing that too often, though, as successful spars result in experience points and leveling up. The higher you get, the stronger you need to be.

StreetPass Mansion pulls puzzle gameplay and an RPG style battle system together into a compelling little adventure with a lot of content. The ghost designs are great too, particularly the one with the massive waggling tongue; this one's definitely worth a go.

Overall

Bringing in separate developers has the positive effect of creating variety, but it also brings up some small problems of consistency. For example, Prope includes a tutorial in StreetPass Mansion, allowing players to review information if they're feeling a little lost; on the other hand, StreetPass Garden contains no such function, which it could have vastly benefited from given how much it spreads its new information about.

These games are also the only way to get hold of Plaza Tickets, added in the update, that give you a new way to unlock adorable new hats for your Mii. There are 22 to get in each of the four new Plaza games, handed out whenever you complete achievements.

There's a lot of quality in the new batch of StreetPass Plaza games; they complement the original free games well and expand the scope of the Plaza beyond what we've seen before. However, it's difficult to recommend them if you don't get much in the way of StreetPass activity, as with the current Play Coin restrictions you're simply not going to get much out of them. The ten-a-day rule didn't feel so bad with just Puzzle Swap, StreetPass Quest and the odd Super Street Fighter IV figurine or Animal Crossing: New Leaf fortune cookie to fund, but with these games practically demanding them at times it's beginning to feel like a serious limitation.

If you're going to be getting a lot of action, the price points are reasonable; on the face of it they seem expensive, though considering that these could be used every day for months on end it's not so bad. The main exception is StreetPass Battle which sadly, despite its quality, won't get as much use as the others due to its huge Play Coin demands and the way it's set up as a game of waiting and patience.

Have you picked up any, or all, of the new StreetPass Plaza games? Share your thoughts about them in the comments below.

Which StreetPass Plaza DLC game do you like the most? (170 votes)

StreetPass Squad

31%

StreetPass Garden

12%

StreetPass Battle

20%

StreetPass Mansion

37%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (62)

Mk_II

#2

Mk_II said:

If they had released all four games in a 10 euro pack, i would have bought them. Now they are seriously overpriced IMHO

Prof_Clayton

#3

Prof_Clayton said:

Good 'reviews' Mike Mason!
Also, those taglines. :p
When this comes to the US I'll be hoping to get the 4 for the price of 3 sale. :3
A quick question, for any of these does the level of the Mii matter much?

KongFu

#4

KongFu said:

The street pass feature is one of the best aspects of the 3DS. The additional games are expensive but absolutely worth purchasing and a nice addition to the overall console experience.

6ch6ris6

#6

6ch6ris6 said:

no real interest in these games so far. my streetpass acitivities are way too rare

Captain_Balko

#7

Captain_Balko said:

If you hit the same person multiple times in battle, do you still get their entire army again and again? Or is it a one time deal? Because my brother has a 3DS and we each have around 600 tags or so so I figure we'd be plowing through Battle if our armies continually grew from each other's Streetpass tags.

ImDiggerDan

#8

ImDiggerDan said:

@Captain_Balko - Can battle again and again and win their entire army again and again. This means you will very quickly end up unbeatable by your brother (or vice versa) making the game a little annoying to the loser.

In my case, my army is 6000+, my son's is about 1500.

RedYoshi999

#9

RedYoshi999 said:

I don't think I'll be getting any of these. They sound nice, but I haven't had a StreetPass for months (and won't for several more) so spending $20 on the lot isn't worth it. Besides, I'm using my Play Coins for the endless amounts of Puzzle Swap pieces and Animal Crossing fortune cookies!

Haywired

#10

Haywired said:

Look forward to trying these. it's funny, when I first got my 3DS I thought Streetpass was the most pointless thing ever. And while I'm still not bothered by the Streetpass for individual games, I'm now rather addicted to the main Streetpass Plaza stuff and get surprisingly happy when I get a hit. It's such a simple, silly little thing, but is just brimming with Nintendo charm. Even though it has given me an unwholesome habit of sidling up to groups of nerds, school children, etc.......

zipmonStaff

#11

zipmon said:

Thanks for the great review, Mike! I can't wait for these to come to NA!! :D

Windy

#12

Windy said:

These look pretty cool. I spend alot of time on Find me and Puzzle swap since my wife street passes me everyday. Other than that not many streetpass hits about 8 per year :( I get more spotpass than streetpass which is a bummer. I am going to run a streetpass get together next month at a local library Now to run that Craigslist ad to get people there :)

beat

#13

beat said:

streetpass battle! and garden! and mansion! and squad! guess im getting them all :D soon as i get my hands on some eshop cards :D

LavaTwilight

#14

LavaTwilight said:

My streetpass hits are rare too but I enjoy the games so much and I have my 3DS with me always (even at work)! I like them and I think I'll enjoy them alot so I'll be spending my money!

Sunnymj

#16

Sunnymj said:

The games look cool and interesting, but I never get Streetpass hits. So I think I'll stick to PuzzleSwap and the Quest(slowly progressing through them both). Only get hits from family,and when I'm visiting bigger cities.

Klimbatize

#17

Klimbatize said:

Thanks for the rundown. The Garden one seems virtually pointless, but I'll wind up getting it when it comes to NA because the other three look interesting enough and I'll just buy the pack. I get a decent number of StreetPass hits so I could see myself having fun with these. Battle looks the best, though it looks to have limitations.

Captain_Gonru

#18

Captain_Gonru said:

Should these make it Stateside, I think I'd pick up a discounted bundle. I don't get a ton of Tags, but the two or three a day should keep things going. And, like other posters, I get a grin whenever I get a Tag.
And a quick tip for those of you not getting many Tags. Try store demo units. Both my local Target and Gamestop have live demos for customers, usually with a Mii already created. I find they aren't great for puzzle pieces after the initial set, but for Find Mii/Quest, they're handy. You can even change their favorite color to match a particular magic that you need.

jpxdude

#21

jpxdude said:

Something new in the Mii Plaza! Went into my Mii Plaza on my 3DS today, and my Exchange Booth is offering the first complete Mii Costume change I've seen so far (NOT JUST THE HAT). It is for Link's costume, which I got, and other than having the hat, the tunic is just green, has a tiny 'V' neck, and a brown belt buckle.
Pic here! http://tinypic.com/r/6gbq15/5

jpxdude

#24

jpxdude said:

@adamical yes you can, takes a while to get through all now. I find the gardening one a bit too slow and annoying for my tastes!

Ancashinji

#27

Ancashinji said:

About the complaints concerning StreetPass Battle:
After - I think - the third castle upgrade. you can buy 700 troops for 15 Play coins. So that's ok.
I also managed to defeat an enemy who had twice the soldiers I had. So it is possible to make progress. But I agree with you to some degree, it's not ideal how it works atm. :-)

RQuinain

#29

RQuinain said:

When I saw the headline, I thought it was an announcement saying the update had come to America... nope.

SkywardLink98

#30

SkywardLink98 said:

The Streetpass Battle sounds interesting. With 3 siblings that all have a 3DS I think I can get a relatively large army if I convince them to buy it aswell... assuming it comes stateside... lucky Europeans...

Luffymcduck

#31

Luffymcduck said:

Since I´m at my cousins place most of the summer, I´ll get 900 troops from his 3DS everyday. Time to dominate the world.

Zach777

#32

Zach777 said:

Where's the ''I don't have an option at which one to start with because I live in America and NoA is a bunch of lazy turds'' option? I'd tick that box.

C-Olimar

#33

C-Olimar said:

The upcoming new Streetpass features will help a lot! Especially for Streetpass Battle.

(Wifi hotspots storing Streetpass data I mean).

I'll get all four soon.

DerpSandwich

#34

DerpSandwich said:

They should have finished setting up the new Streetpass hotspots and given us a taste of how many more tags we would be getting, THEN introduced these games. Right now it just seems pointless.

hamsterfactor

#35

hamsterfactor said:

I had €5 in my 3DS, so I got StreetPass Garden to see what the deal was. I have to say I'm enjoying it quite a bit, but as the article says it takes a few sessions to really get going.

Sneaker13

#37

Sneaker13 said:

The only one I'm interested in is StreetPass Mansion. It's unfortunate that in the Netherlands I hardly get any hits, apart from my sister. Last week I went from Rotterdam to Amsterdam (two of the biggest cities in my country) and back by train. Only got one hit.

Aqueous

#41

Aqueous said:

I'd love to say which one I like the most. Only I can't get them. Hopefully soon.

Mason

#43

Mason said:

@Ancashinji I actually just got the upgraded Play Coin stuff for Battle today, I got a bunch of StreetPass hits so I could advance a few more countries and it unlocked. :) I still think it's a problem though — you have to pay an extra five Coins and by that point 750 is almost nothing, as 300 was in the first few battles! I imagine that more options will unlock with further Play Coin requirements. The PC requirements feel a bit unbalanced to me, though I do love the concept and it works brilliantly when you're getting a lot of hits.

mullen

#44

mullen said:

I want to give different comment about streetpass battle. The number of soldiers of your enemy is decided by your own army at the first encounter. For example, if you have 100 soldiers, your enemy may have 75, while if you have 1000, you enemy have 750. What's more, you actually can defeat all your enemies at your first try if you're clever, and sometimes lucky.
However, since I'm in US, I have never streetpassed anyone with this game installed, so I'm not sure how the battle between two kings (2 streetpass players) work. I'm afraid that may be a nightmare for the player with a small army, and will be extremely difficult to unlock the 10 streak wins achievement.

Another thing I want to argue is that for streetpass mansion, one piece can have a maximum of 5 blocks, not 4.

Here are some my other opinions.
1. I'm glad that there (seems to be) no achievement that require you to finish the game entirely, and you don't need to play something like secret quest 10 times; and the game will not be finished once you collect all the hats. However, I don't think I can finish the squad with no damage for all missions, no matter how long it takes. That one is horrible.
2. At the beginning, I think if you really understand the battle one, you will find it's great. However, it seems that you may have nothing to do if you conquer the world 3 times or so (except battle with other streetpass players). On the contrary, the garden one is very boring at the beginning, but you will eventually find that it has most contents of all the games.
3. One thing I hate is that I will need to buy the game twice since I have 2 3DS, and I want to have all the hats on both of them... If those games are separated from Mii Plaza, or not related to any hats / music, then I can save a lot money.

suburban_sensei

#45

suburban_sensei said:

I don't like that you have to buy each game separately. That being said, though, I would maybe purchase one of the better ones, being as I live in a rather lively town now. Before, I lived in a very small town and I NEVER had StreetPass tags at the mall, park, anywhere. Now, if I go to the mall 3 minutes down the road (it's a big two story mall) I usually come home with like 2-3 tags, each time :) I can only imagine how many you would get in Japan or at the Nintendo World Store in New York!

Sakura

#47

Sakura said:

Maybe the problem with StreetPass hits will be solved by the relay stations that have been announced? I am a lucky girl in that I have access to 9 consoles so that's 8 hits twice a day and I've been able to get through quite a bit on all games and I think they're epic. I'm even getting to like Garden, though I'm not sure how biologically accurate it is - surely with that much cross-pollination there'd be no identifiable breeds any more. If you can get StreetPass hits then you'll love the games. If not, then they'll be really frustrating.

Mr_Rawky

#48

Mr_Rawky said:

I've actually been having a lot of fun with Battle and Squad. I'm also off to Japan at the end of July, so i may get the other two and abuse the amount of Streetpass hits I'm bound to get.

I got the full Link costume yesterday :)

Marioman64

#51

Marioman64 said:

from some random site: "...So what about North America? The official word from Nintendo is that they’re “looking into” the new StreetPass Mii Plaza content for the states. Not exactly any kind of definitive answer, but you’d have to think that it will head over eventually."

HeatBombastic

#52

HeatBombastic said:

Argh, come to US!

The European names aren't creative at all :( I hope it isn't like that in US. Wait a minute, could it be the reason NA is taking so long is that they're trying to come up with better names XP

ollietaro

#54

ollietaro said:

Seriously, they should increase the amount of max. play coins you get and allow the full amount for each separate title.

Mason

#55

Mason said:

@mullen Thanks for the lengthy comment! I'll address some of that.

You have to be very lucky indeed with some of the differences in army size in StreetPass Battle. As for the monarch battles, they work just like the CPU fights, only at the beginning you can choose to offer them "kind greetings" — if they're obviously way too powerful for you and you don't want to fight — or challenge them to battle. If you win the battle, a number of soldiers equivalent to their entire army joins you. If you greet instead, sometimes you'll get a few soldiers from them as a 'present'.

I've corrected the StreetPass Mansion block information, thanks. :) I believe the range of blocks you're offered depends upon how many times you've StreetPassed an individual; while I spent a few days with these, playing with actual Miis that I'd picked up, I also had to rely on Play Coins to get a wider picture of the games, hiring investigators / mercenaries / etc. As such, the number of blocks in each piece, I assume, were more restricted leading to my assessment of "up to four".

grumblegrumble

#58

grumblegrumble said:

You need between 400-500 blocks FREE on your SD card in order to install the Mii Plaza Update on your 3DS.

MagicEmperor

#61

MagicEmperor said:

It's a good thing I got all my 'old' Streetpass hats not long before this big update. I'd feel too overwhelmed. lol

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