We've covered a lot of news on 3DS games over the past week or so. As new screenshots and trailers start to flow out of Japan it's becoming clearer and clearer that the 3DS game library is going to be pretty special. Other than the games though, there are two other features of the 3DS that I'm really excited about. They are StreetPass and SpotPass.
In case both features have managed to pass you by so far, I'll quickly explain them. StreetPass is activated if you have your 3DS on sleep mode (in other words, if you have it turned on but have the lid closed) and walk past someone else who has a 3DS on sleep mode. Your 3DS will communicate with theirs and you'll transfer data, be that Mii characters, high scores or game items. While not all games will use StreetPass, we've already seen some that use it in an interesting way (like Super Street Fighter IV, which we'll get to in a second).
SpotPass also kicks off while your 3DS is in sleep mode. If you walk past a Wi-Fi hotspot and your 3DS is able to connect to it, it'll look for things to automatically download. This could include downloadable content for games, messages from friends, system updates and who knows what else.
This is likely to include your own Wi-Fi connection settings for your 3DS, so when you get home you can place your 3DS in your charging dock and it'll continue to check for new downloads using your home's own Wi-Fi connection.
I've been thinking a lot about StreetPass and SpotPass, and here are the five reasons why I think they're a great idea.
1) No need to hunt about for a hotspot
I once tried to download a new Pokémon to my copy of HeartGold while I was out and about in London. After standing for ages in McDonalds, Pret A Manger and a pub trying to connect to a Wi-Fi signal, I gave up and did it later when I got home. The ironic thing is there are loads of free Wi-Fi signals that I probably could have connected to if I'd tried in the right place. Were this to happen in the future with some sort of new 3DS Pokémon game, I'd simply need to keep my 3DS in my bag in sleep mode. It'd use SpotPass to keep looking for Wi-Fi connections while I walked around, and when it finally found one and connected successfully it would download the Pokémon automatically.
2) Kicking strangers' heads in (in games!)
The coolest idea I've seen for StreetPass so far is the Street Fighter IV figurine mini-game. The idea is that the game starts you off with a small collection of figurines based on characters from the game. If you walk past someone in the street and you both have StreetPass activated, your 3DS will connect to theirs and your figurines will "fight" with each other (without you having to do anything). When you get home and take your 3DS out of sleep mode, you'll be told who you fought on your travels and whether you won. The more fights you win, the more trophies you collect. Clever.
3) Coining it in
The 3DS also has a built-in pedometer, much like the Pokéwalker. The more you walk with the 3DS in sleep mode, the more steps it counts up. "Who cares?", you may be thinking. Well you should care because those steps are then converted into coins, which can be used to buy and unlock items in certain games. Just think: walking to the shops for your mum might earn you enough coins to buy some new Animal Crossing furniture. What does this have to do with StreetPass? It's clear: many more gamers will walk around with their 3DS in sleep mode if they know it's earning them in-game currency, meaning there's a much better chance you'll come across someone else with a 3DS ready for some StreetPass shenanigans.