The Evolution of Tag Mode – An Ode to StreetPass
To 3DS owners, that green light is a beautiful sight to behold.
If you’ve ever owned a DS, then you might be familiar with a little feature called Tag Mode. The word “little” isn’t used lightly -it only appeared in a select number of games, some of the most notable including Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, Pokemon Black and White, Dragon Quest IX, NintenDogs and Animal Crossing; Wild World. To use the feature, you had to select a special menu option within your game, and close the DS. When you walked by other people who were also in Tag Mode (and using the same game), your DSes would exchange different kinds of data, for example, passing someone while playing Legend of Zelda would give you special treasures. In Animal Crossing, you could send bottled notes to other players. Dragon Quest allowed you to give the other player a special item or treasure map. While these features were somewhat amusing to use, it was quite a pain to set it up and, God forbid, actually find someone using Tag Mode with the same game at the same time. Luckily, the Nintendo 3DS revamped this concept with Streetpass, and it couldn’t be easier or more fun to use.
Didn’t you just love running back to Stornway every time you wanted to activate Tag Mode? Nope, nobody did.
The beauty of Streetpass comes from the fact that it’s simple to set up. Just close your 3DS with its’ wireless capabilities enabled, and the handheld console does the rest of the work for you. There’s no need to sift through menu options, or talk to someone at the nearest inn before you can start making Streetpasses, and no fear that other people might not have the same cartridge in their system. StreetPass is a system-wide feature, so as soon as you pop in Mario Kart 7, your newly acquired data will be waiting for you, even if you had a different game in before. This ease of use also means that you’re more likely to find people to interact with. Simply put, Streetpass takes out almost all the barriers of entry that the DS’s Tag mode faced, save nudging your wireless switch.
So simple, even this JPEG understands it.
If you want, you can disable StreetPass altogether, but why on Earth would you want to? StreetPass provides gamers with tons of new challenges that vary based on the players they pass by. You can race their ghosts in Mario Kart 7, try to finish a level faster than them in Super Mario 3D Land, fight their army in Fire Emblem: Awakening, acquire new weapon gems in Kid Icarus: Uprising, and even see if they like the same kind of music as you with 3DS Sound. Every time you see that little green light flicker on, you’ll be excited to open up the system and find out what awaits you – in this way, there’s an exciting sense of discovery that surrounds the feature. It will definitely keep you going back to play games that you may not have touched in a while.
Challenger Approaching: That guy you walked by at the mall
In addition to the individual 3DS games, StreetPass also works in conjunction with the StreetPass Mii Plaza, where you can see the Mii of the person you’ve passed by, what they’ve been playing recently, and a little message. Puzzle Swap and Find Mii are the two games found within the StreetPass Mii Plaza, and they’re both incredibly addictive. Puzzle Swap allows you to exchange puzzle pieces with other players, in an attempt to finish little 3D dioramas from various games including Pikmin, Star Fox 64 3D and Rhythm Heaven Fever. They all look really cool in 3D, and it’s easy to get hooked on trying to complete each puzzle. Find Mii is a sort of mini-RPG in which Mii characters you StreetPass will fight enemies in order to get hats that other players can see as they StreetPass you. As you begin to pass people multiple times, a connection grows between the two of you – it’s always interesting to see what they’ve been playing, what new records they’ve beaten, and especially, what new puzzle pieces they have. Through StreetPass, Nintendo has developed a little community exclusive to the gamers you walk by on a regular basis.
Even one StreetPass fosters a high amount of potential – will you get a new puzzle piece? New ghost data? Both?
StreetPass is one of the more downplayed elements of the 3DS, but proves to be one of its’ best. It adds a new layer of depth to games, and keeps you coming back to them whenever new data is available, even if you haven’t picked them up in months. StreetPass is unpredictable, as you seldom know exactly when you’ll connect with somebody. This writer managed to StreetPass people in airports, schools, malls, and even in churches, from Germany and Japan to right in my own neighborhood. When you finally see that glowing green light, there’s an exciting sense of discovery as you open up the system to see what’s new. It’s not only an evolution of Tag Mode, but also great incentive to bring your 3DS with you wherever you go!
Alexandre Trottier loves the fact that even ambulances can’t stop talking about Wii U (Feel free to use that as your Facebook timeline picture). He may or may not be obsessed with StreetPass to the point where he’ll walk into a game store just because he might get a new puzzle piece. Follow him on Twitter @NF_Alexandre, and he will very likely follow you back, unless you tell him that Nintendo sucks.