The humble StreetPass feature on the 3DS is largely seen as a supplemental element of the system. Essentially, the idea is you walk around living your daily life with your plucky 3DS on sleep mode and upon passing someone else who's doing the same, that little green light will start flashing.
While many use it in this way to play through the StreetPass Plaza mini-games, others have began to organise meetups centred around the feature and during these gatherings Nintendo fans can bond, chat and of course play some games!
Last weekend StreetPass Manchester, which is coming up to its first anniversary, held a massive event to celebrate the release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and to bring as many pink puzzle piece seeking 3DS owners together as physically possible.
We popped down to see how things were going and we could not believe the amount of people that were squeezed into the normally expansive-looking Kyoto Lounge in the centre of Manchester. The turnout was quite simply astronomical and the organisers were hard at work running all sorts of fun and games for all the attendees.
For a start there was a hotly-contested Mario Kart 7 tournament, which had 31 entrants in total and featured a plethora of interesting tactics including the old braking trick upon spotting a blue shell among the items on the lower screen, letting those behind take the hit. The game has become a staple multiplayer title for the 3DS so it's no surprise so many people were racing one another even outside of the tournament.
Of course, Animal Crossing: New Leaf featured heavily and everywhere we turned we saw people visiting one another's towns, swapping clothing designs, trading items and nicking off with fruit. A fishing tournament was promptly organised and plenty of fierce competitors were reeled in. Winners of all these tournaments were supplied with commemorative certificates just in case the bragging rights were not enough.
Though the event was naturally 3DS focused that didn't mean the home consoles weren't given any love and the big screens situated at the venue were put to good use with people being able to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Nintendo Land to their heart's content.
On top of all this, the folks at StreetPass Manchester put together a raffle, with some fabulous prizes, and ran a Nintendo-themed quiz, which was actually quite taxing - do you know how many characters are on the Super Smash Bros. Melee roster off the top of your head?
After the event it's fair to say the organisers were quite tired, but we managed to catch up with James Bowden - the man behind StreetPass Manchester - to ask him a few questions.
Nintendo Life: This is your fifth event now, how did StreetPass Manchester come about?
James Bowden: Free time and a thirst for pink pieces! Well, that's the short answer. The longer answer would point towards StreetPass Edinburgh. Chap that runs that, Kerr Henderson, he was featured on Nintendo Life after his first meet, around this time last year, and it looked fun. He talked about just putting posters up and I was like, 'I could do that', so I hopped on Twitter and blurted to the void 'I wish there was a StreetPass thing in Manchester' and then I had a bunch of people echo my sentiment, so I took the initiative to 'start' the group by setting up a Twitter, a Facebook page, and throwing posters around town. Y'know, I just wanted to play some Mario Kart and Kid Icarus, and the console was still finding its feet this time last year so I wanted to help get people more excited to be a 3DS owner. That last part isn't so necessary nowadays, the console is deliciously stacked with titles, but people are always after multiplayer buddies.
NL: How many people have made their way here today?
JB: Gosh, yeah, about 140? We were counting, honest, but we stopped at 130 because it was getting hard to navigate new arrivals to our little admin desk! I mean, we had more than 100 people arrive in the first hour, and we were at 130 before 1pm. I can count several faces that I know turned up after that and aren't on the tally, and I like nice round numbers so I'm going to say 140, give or take a few. I can tell you that a few people have earned their '100 Mii encounters in a day' accomplishment, but plenty of others have just sat on Animal Crossing.
NL: That is an incredible amount of people. You must have all the puzzle pieces now, right?
JB: Well I did, before Nintendo scuppered my progress with those five new puzzles in rapid succession! It's hard enough getting the pink pieces when there's only one new puzzle added but that recent hit of Xenoblade, Skyward, Heroines and New Super Mario U all at once meant the chances of anyone getting the pink slabs was even slimmer! Add to that the new Dillons one, and no, Nintendo is one step ahead of me. I had all the pieces before then, and I have got quite a few of the new pieces from today, but it also doesn't help that all my Play Coins are going on StreetPass Squad now instead of getting the blues! Hold on, I need to check now... I have a total of 715 pieces at the minute.
NL: So, which games have proven the most popular at these StreetPass events?
JB: Going back to the very first event, Mario Kart 7 has always been popular. The Mario Kart 7 tournament is a staple of these events now, even if Sandy Hinchcliffe always wins! Animal Crossing is obviously attracting a lot of attention today, and I get the feeling it will be big for a long while yet. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is always good, always some people looking for new chums with which to stab big lizards. There have been a few people hankering for some Luigi's Mansion 2 multiplayer, and I've seen quite a few people playing the new StreetPass Plaza games. I've spent a lot of time on those myself. Oh and Pokémon. Even though X and Y aren't out yet you can normally bet on a few people appearing, clearing StreetPasses and then hoping on whichever DS Pokémon game they have in.
One game I'd like to be more popular than it is, is Kid Icarus: Uprising. Man, I love Kid Icarus. I've been talking to other StreetPass groups in the UK about a StreetPass Versus idea, our best against their best, and I think Uprising's Light vs. Dark mode would be perfect for it. The people I have fought here in Manchester, I've beaten, I just love it. Something about Sakurai's designs just speaks to me, as I'm quite the Smash Bros. stalwart, and I even thought Kirby Air Ride was pretty good! Oh and yes, that's an open challenge; come to a StreetPass Manchester event and I'll take you on!
NL: Here's the question everyone wants answering - when's the next one?
JB: August 24th, meeting in Piccadilly Gardens. It's called 'The Big Luigi', and everyone needs to wear something green. It's our celebration of the Year of Luigi but it's also StreetPass Manchester's anniversary bash! One year since the first one. That's why we're meeting in Piccadilly, in reference to the first meet. We'll be moving indoors after about an hour; the interior location just hasn't been announced yet. There's going to be another Mario Kart tournament, too, and we're considering some sort of Luigi's Mansion 2 competition. After today I'm just a little terrified about how many people might show up!
NL: That sounds great! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us!
We certainly enjoyed meeting up with some fellow gamers in Manchester and it looked like everyone had a great time. StreetPass events such as this really bring people together and of course allow them to pick up a few more hats in StreetPass Quest.
We're looking forward to the next event already. You can follow StreetPassManchester on Twitter.