The most recent Nintendo Direct broadcasts had a number of pleasing reveals, but one of the most satisfying for eager explorers and walkers was confirmation of a major StreetPass update. The update does multiple things; it introduces the Quick Plaza / SwiftPlay Plaza, designed to shave time off playing games and processing hits, while those that cough up for the 'Premium' option can now also line up 100 hits without having to constantly clear batches. The latter will be ideal for expos, especially.
It also includes five new games, with everyone able to try one for free. We jumped in and bought the 'combo pack' (£8.09 / $8.99) which gets you all five games; they can be bought individually for £2.69 / $2.99. One key point - the process for getting the combo pack still seems fiddly (as it was in past cases too) and it's easy to buy a solo pack and miss the chance of a better value deal. To get the combo pack download your freebie, then go to the shop and select one of those not in the 'free' promotion - go straight to the 'buy' option without asking for information, and the famous StreetPass Bunny will offer the combo deal. The process ideally wouldn't rely on following a specific purchasing path - why the combo isn't a product on it's own we have no idea - so be careful to avoid buying a solo game and scuppering your chance of picking up the combo.
With that out of the way, let's break down the five games:
StreetPass Slot Racer / Slot Car Rivals - Good-Feel (Available as free option)
Nintendo made the pitch that the new StreetPass games fit in with the idea of quick play, and unlike some of its contemporaries this one delivers on that promise. The initial premise is simple - you're given a starter car, have the opportunity to customise its look, and jump into a race. The long game is to win a lot of races and to move up classes, eventually (presumably) taking on the champion.
This is a fun recreation of actual electric / slot cars; you simply hold A to go, ease off when going around bends marked red, and then hit the accelerator at the right point to maintain momentum. Timing is everything, as finding the right balance on the corners can bring 'excellent' performance and help you surge to top spot.
It's certainly conceivable (tutorial aside) to hop in, have a quick race and move on with your day in just a few minutes. There's some nice extra depth, however, as you can earn 'special' cars with wins, and defeated rivals will also construct one-use booster chips that you can bolt onto your car when the going gets tough.
Early impressions are that this one is well worth a look, and it oozes with charm.
StreetPass Trader / Market Crashers - Good-Feel (Available as free option)
Capitalism, the game; you can either trade your way to obscene wealth or cause a global economic downturn. Well, we're exaggerating, and it's a credit to the cuteness of Mii characters that we've been charmed by this one.
A tutorial does a good job of walking you through what is, when playing for real, a relatively high-pressure, quick-fire game. Your hits become Mii Analysts (the more the better) and they give you a lowdown on what they expect to happen across different stocks. You choose one to invest in, you're shown a predictive graph of how it'll behave in the day's trading (more accurate if you have plenty of analysts) and then you buy and sell stock in real time as it climbs and drops in value. You need a good memory, quick fingers (you buy and sell stock with face buttons or touch icons) and guts. If you do well you make a lot of money, and if you mess it up then, well, you'll be in bother.
The ultimate goal is to become Warren Buffett rich, basically, and you can also buy a handful of items that assist with your trading. It's oddly exciting, and as it's a Nintendo-published game it's naturally lacking the extra-curricular lifestyle seen in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Like the Slot Car game this is certainly worth a look.
StreetPass Chef / Feed Mii - Prope
This one is a clever addition, as it taps into the cooking / recipe gameplay that's rather popular on smart devices and earned fans through the Cooking Mama games. The cute twist is that the Kingdom's Monarch has been kidnapped (yep, it seems to be the 'StreetPass Quest' story!), and your job is to run the kitchen in the local eatery so that visiting heroes are well fed and - and a result - make good progress on their quest.
In total there are 12 ingredient types, though you're reliant upon the Mii characters from your hits delivering the goods. You try to meet a meal request, with only one chance to change it; sometimes it'll be a recipe you haven't made before, or you may even be struggling to bring together the correct ingredients. The better the meal the more points, and successful efforts also get logged in a recipe book for future reference. You're limited to retaining a small number of ingredients in your fridge, and can also conduct 'Culinary Research' to fill out your recipe book.
This is a simple but enjoyable option, overall.
StreetPass Ninja / Ninja Launcher - Prope
The name promises much here, and aspects of the presentation are fantastic. Cute visuals, lovely music and quirky humour (such as a Ninja Mii starting out wearing very little) make this a very likeable addition.
The gameplay hook is a little less appealing, however. The concept is that your Ninja is catapulted towards a foe, but rather than control the cannon you're lining up kites that have scrolls attached; when your Ninja flies through a scroll they gain armour, weapons and buffs. A full complement of 10 hits means you have little time to line up every kite within the projected path of the catapulted Ninja, so you quickly cycle through the helpers and move them into place before a countdown runs out.
It's fine, it's acceptable, and the visuals and humorous approach help this one. It's not the strongest in this batch of releases, however.
StreetPass Explorers / Mii Trek - Arzest
Based on our initial time with it, this one is a case of last and least. The concept of exploring areas to find treasure is nice, but slightly lengthy rounds (despite the 'Quickplay' pitch these new games are supposed to represent) and sketchy presentation let it down.
The core idea is to explore locations and seek treasure using the step count of those you've encountered via StreetPass, which defaults at a minimum of 500. Split into Missions / Maps, you move while depleting steps and then choose a direction when you hit a fork in the road. You have an overall map as your guide, and you're targeting 'points of interest' that may or may not have treasure to uncover. Quick and timed encounters come up when you need to clear rocks, tranquilise aggressive animals or take photos. These are all functional (using the Circle Pad and A) but there can be multiple moments like these in one session.
Visually this game is rather scruffy. It blends Mii-style visuals with low-quality photographs, which isn't a particularly good look.
It's not a bad StreetPass game, but appears to be the weakest of this batch.
All told this writer has no regrets about grabbing the combo pack, with three of the titles being rather enjoyable and two being entirely passable. With most of the older StreetPass games long since cleared, these new additions add welcome longevity to one of the best day-to-day features of the 3DS.