In the true spirit of Continue Play, we are bringing you a review of a game that is everywhere, that everyone plays, and that nobody seems to talk about: Streetpass Mii Plaza.
This game is a bit of a difficult one to review, as it is technically not a game. Instead, it’s a hub for a Nintendo metagame where you can use your Nintendo avatar, your Mii, to play 6 different minigames. There are 2 free minigames which come preloaded on the system, and 4 further games which you can buy individually or as a bundle of 4 for the price of 3. I’m going to review all 6 for you, but before we go any further we need to define a few things; Nintendo is big on jargon, and if you don’t know the terms, you’ll be lost in this review very quickly.
- Mii: Your Nintendo Avatar. Like the Xbox avatar, but not as good looking. You look like a floating bowling pin with a face.
- StreetPass: An NFC system build into the 2DS/3DS/3DS XL system. You walk past someone with one of these consoles who also uses StreetPass, and your avatar will visit their console. Likewise they visit your console, and basically act as a play token which you can use once per minigame.
- Plaza: The game hub and where your Mii lives. You can have up to 10 Miis visit at once, but once you are done with these 10, they cannot be reused until you meet them again.
- Play Coins: Every 100 steps you take with your console gives you 1 Play Coin. You can get up to 10 coins per day, with a maximum of 300 Play Coins in your wallet. These can be used in place of StreetPass Miis if you don’t find anyone to play with, or to give hints or help inside the game.
“Lately, people at the Nintendo building have been leaving their work stations and wandering around other floors for no apparent reason with their 3DS to use StreetPass connection with the other employees. Normally, I would tell them not to do this, but… I am one of those people leaving their work stations.” – Satoru Iwata, President and CEO of Nintendo.
This is the first of the preloaded games and quite possibly the most addictive. When you start, you are assigned a random puzzle and given a piece to start you off. Every Mii you encounter will be doing the same, and will offer you a copy of a single piece they have previously found. From here you begin to slowly complete your puzzles, one piece at time; if you meet a Mii who has a puzzle that you do not, you can take one of the pieces from it to add to your collection, starting a whole new puzzle.
When you start a new puzzle you can see the title of the game it represents, like Metroid: Other M or Pokemon X and Y; but it’s not until you start filling it in properly do you see what exactly you’ll get at the end. Finishing your puzzle unlocks a 3D scene which you can view from your Plaza. This scene is a direct copy of the puzzle you have just completed, but you can explore it by wiggling the camera and making use of the 3D function if you have it. It’s a cool little feature and a nice pay off for your months of hard work.
Collecting is pretty simple; pieces come in two colors: pink and blue. The pink pieces can only be found by StreetPass, and make up the central 4 tiles of the 6×4 puzzles, or the 8 central tiles of the 8×5 puzzle. The blue pieces make up the rest of the puzzle and can be filled by spending 2 Play Coins to get a random tile. At the time of writing, I am only at 492/945 pieces found, and I have had this console for three months. There is a lot of life in this little game, and with new puzzles being released with every big new game on any of the Nintendo consoles, I don’t expect to finish it any time soon.
The only thing I don’t really like about this game is how slow-moving and time-intensive it can be. First of all, once you finish a puzzle, you shouldn’t have to cycle through while looking for what pieces you can take. It’s unnecessary, and that puzzle should just be moved to your slideshow at the Plaza, which is where you go to see your finished product anyway. This would save both time and effort.
Also, at a price of 2 Play Coins per piece, you won’t finish this game quickly at all. In fact, that price feels kinda expensive, considering it only gives you a maximum of 5 pieces per day if you take your console for a 500-step walk. The issue here is that the random piece can quite easily be one you already have. You can’t help but feel cheated when this happens, especially when it happens more than once in the same day.
StreetPass Quest/Find Mii
This is the second of the two preloaded games that you get with your console. It is important to note that it has two different names depending on the region. The idea here is that your Mii is the king or queen of the land, and has been captured by unknown villains. You fight your way through 14 chambers of ghosts and fiends using the people you StreetPass, your heroes. These heros use their swords and magic to cut a bloody path to their ruler, to remove him from the giant cage he/she is sitting in.
This is an amusing little game, but the pacing can be a little off at times. Because the usefulness of your heroes can differ wildly based on the chamber, you aren’t always guaranteed that your heroes can land a hit. Here, the color of your visiting Miis is important. The color of a Mii’s shirt is based on the person’s favorite color, and in StreetPass Quest/Find Mii, the color of the shirt determines the magical abilities of the hero. If red, they shoot flames; if purple, they can poison their enemies; if white, they can light up a darkened room. The issue here is that if you happen across a darkened room, and have nobody with a white shirt on, you cannot use any of your 10 heroes. Likewise, if that white-shirted hero is 8th in the cue, you cannot use the 7 heroes before him/her. This means that if you cannot find anyone who likes the color white, you are pretty much just twiddling your thumbs. You can hire a hero for 2 Play Coins, which can circumvent this issue, but in all honesty you’re better off spending these Coins on Puzzle Swap.
This issue could have been resolved fairly easily if you could edit the order your Miis arrived in. If you could set a default that said certain colors go in a certain order you wouldn’t have the problems with queuing; unfortunately this functionality was never included. Fortunately, the game is pretty short, and can be completed multiple times for different bonuses. Also, as you progress, you come across the occasional treasure chest. These chests unlock a lot of different hats and outfits for your Mii, which gives you that little bit of variety in the sea of similar bodies.
StreetPass Squad/Mii Force
This is the only StreetPass game I actively avoid playing. Not only is it pretty dull, but it’s not particularly well designed. You play as Squad Leader of Mii Force, recruiting Miis of all colored shirts to fight beside you in this spaceship-based, side-scrolling shoot-em-up. You are tasked with hunting down space pirate Gold Bone and his nefarious crew, which somehow has enough money and personnel to deploy traps, robots and spaceships throughout the galaxy to hinder your pursuit.
The color of the Miis you meet determines what weapon they offer; red gives you a flamethrower, while blue gives you homing missiles. They are scattered throughout the level, and you add them onto your ship as you collect them, powering yourself up. You chase the pirates through scrolling areas inexplicably filled with traps and turrets, dying often enough that the game is simply just frustrating.
The problem is that this game is quite challenging yet not particularly rewarding. Your ship is slow-moving and the enemies are plentiful. If you get too close to the edge of the screen when it’s quiet, something will spawn and kill you before you can even see them on screen. When the screen gets busy, which happens a lot, there is little you can do but spray and pray, while you fail to dodge incoming fire. Either way, you are going to lose lives.
The over-arching story is vaguely amusing, but the levels are all pretty much the same. Fly here, shoot everything, oh look a boss…occasionally they mix it up by having you fly in a different direction. Having completed the game there is virtually no replay value other than going for 100% completion. However, this game is so boring that I don’t think many will bother.
StreetPass Garden/Flower Town
This game is surprisingly amusing, considering it is just a game about planting flowers. Under the tutelage of Mr. Mendel, you are tasked with growing 20 varieties of flowers, earning you the rank of Master Gardener. It’s a cute little game that just makes you smile. The fact that your mentor is named after the father of genetics, Gregor Mendel, is a nice touch.
Once you achieve your goal of Master Gardener, owner of 20 different plants, you pretty much just get told you grow the remaining 60. There isn’t really any story here, though that doesn’t really detract from the game. You can take jobs from the townsfolk to grow specific plants for various NPCs if you want the game fleshing out. The idea is that you plant a seed, and have your guests water it until it blooms. Once it has bloomed you can cross-pollinate your plant with whatever plant your visiting Miis are carrying, which directly influences the seeds your plant produced. You then get a readout with the seed of the percentage probability of it diverging into a new plant, or being the same plant of the same or different color. One really nice feature here is that if you harvest a seed pollinated by someone you have met twice or more, you can grow a mysterious and rare Phantom Plant.
There is a surprising level of depth at the surface of this game, with a lot more when you really look into it. If the depth is not your thing, you can just play the game and grow pretty flowers to stick in your garden. Any seeds you can’t store you sell off for ridiculous sums of money, and use the cash to buy extra gardens to display your creations, funky pots to store them in, and ornate garden furniture to store them on.
I only really have 2 issues with this game. First of all, for all it’s depth there is no tutorial area where you can research how to grow a plant of a specific color. While Mr. Mendel drops hints from time to time, there is no way to look it up without the internet at hand. Mr. Mendel gives you a plant journal to store your creations in at the beginning of the game; a simple tutorial tab would have been nice. Second, you cannot swap plants mid-session. If you have 7 seeds to harvest, and 10 Miis visiting, you cannot harvest the 7 and give the remaining 3 something useful to do; they just do nothing. It’s a bit of a waste, really, which is a shame.
There is the perfect level of depth with very little complexity here, and I was pleasantly surprised by this game. I went in expecting not to like it; I have just grown a specific plant of a specific color to give to customer visiting her sister in the hospital and got that little flutter of a job well done. This is a fun little game and one I recommend to anyone who doesn’t hate flowers… which is probably most people.
StreetPass Battle/Warrior’s Way
This is essentially a glorified version of Rock, Paper, Scissors. As the ruler of a medieval, samurai, or futuristic castle, you conscript the Miis you gather and their small armies into your own larger force. The Mii’s army is determined by the number of StreetPass hits they have had to date. If you meet a Mii with a sizable army, you can take them on in a full-on conflict, taking around 10% of their troops as part of your army. Once you have built an army of your visiting friends, you can go to the campaign mode and take on the adjacent kingdom in the game map. Your ultimate goal of course being world domination.
Battling is pretty simple for the most part. You divide your army into cavalry, archers and pikemen for your rock, scissors and paper respectively, and then make your play. If your cavalry comes up against archers, you’ll trounce them, as rock beats scissors. However, if you’re unlucky enough to pit your 1000-strong cavalry against 2001 archers, you are going to lose; throw enough scissors at a rock and you will eventually break it. This means that you soon learn to pick your battles carefully, and do not engage in skirmishes you know you are going to lose. This is all fair and well when fighting against visiting Miis, but the game mixes up battles in the campaign by adding berserkers and ninjas as you play, making the game a royal pain with their special abilities.
As you defeat kings and nations fall, you upgrade your castle and make bigger ones, unlocking new perks. Unfortunately, this slow grind of amassing an army makes for a very slow-moving game, but as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You are not finishing this game in a hurry, even if you spend your 5 Play Coins to hire soldiers to speed up the process.
StreetPass Mansion/Monster Manor
This is the final game your Mii can play with their guests in StreetPass Mii Plaza, and is probably one of the best. You are a private eye who has gone to a haunted mansion in order to rescue your young assistant. However, upon entering the building, the door locks behind you and you have no choice but to move forward.
Your guests are other people trapped inside the mansion and give you a map pieces which you use to build the rooms and corridors you walk through in a Tetris-like fashion. You build your way forward, searching for the stairs to the next level, with the goal of putting the same colored pieces together; if you manage to put down 4 squares of the same color you unlock an item or the help of one of your guests. These items include various weapons of 5 different types, each suited to killing different classes of ghosts and ghouls. These enemies usually appear when you put down a piece which changes the color of your room, or when you come across the occasional boss or miniboss. Wherever possible you’ll want to keep the same colors in groups, as the bigger the square you build, the better the loot you find. This new loot usually comprises of better, pre-levelled, or rare guns which you need as you come across stronger creatures. The bosses have that irritating habit of having more life than is really necessary; they’re really just sponges.
This game requires a fair amount of both planning and thinking, making it the most interesting of the games StreetPass Mii Plaza has to offer. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t show you the piece each guest tries to give you until you speak to them, so there is a fair amount of cycling through guests, trying to find the right piece for the right situation. This makes the game more time-consuming than the rest of the games in the Plaza, but it is certainly worth your time, and with the exception of Puzzle Swap, is my favorite game StreetPass Mii Plaza has to offer.
There you go – that’s StreetPass Mii Plaza all reviewed. Even though I can only really recommend 3 of the 4 games (not including the preloaded ones), I would still advise you get the bundle and get that 4th game for free. Maybe it will provide you with more entertainment than it did me, but either way a free game is a free game, and the other three are worth buying. If you have the console the chances are that you’re already using StreetPass, so you may as well make the most of the Miis you have at hand, right?