The world is becoming more and more connected as time goes by – improvements in Wi-Fi coverage, the rise of 3G, and even the exciting prospect of a 4G network in the near future are but a few of the ways we can keep in touch with others.
But one field which has (relatively) recently seen an enormous growth has been connected gaming. All the major providers have huge online networks – X-Box Live, the PlayStation Network and the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection have all provided their respective users with the ability to connect with friends who may be far away, as well as built in wireless communications for those school-based handheld competitions. But when it comes to pure online power, most gamers consider Nintendo to be in last place.
However, although they’ve struggled to keep up with the online competition in recent years, Nintendo have begun to bring some new ideas to large scale connectivity between consoles with their Nintendo 3DS. Yes, the 3DS does have Wi-Fi compatibility for those global Mario Kart battles (beginning on the 2nd December!), but what the big N have managed with their auto-stereoscopic console is to pull online connectivity principles – the idea of meeting new people with whom you’ve never communicated – into the “real world”. They call it StreetPass.
If you’ve never heard of the concept (which in fact had its birth in the 3DS’ predecessor – the DS), then the easiest way to describe it is as a way to connect you with anyone you pass in the street. If you carry your 3DS whilst out and about in town, and come within range of another 3DS owner who’s doing the same, the two consoles can automatically communicate and swap a variety of data.
As well as the obvious – Mario Kart ghost times, the exchanging of items and so on – Nintendo have also created two mini-games – an RPG and a puzzle collection game – which can only be completed by collecting StreetPasses. Both (though my personal favourite has to be the RPG!) are tremendous fun and that special feeling of your “first StreetPass” never fades – I still remember my child-like glee at the little green light to indicate I’d at last met a fellow 3DS owner!
The good news is that with more StreetPass games on the way, as well as the obvious big hitters like Mario Kart 7, this novel yet simplistic new method of communication has the potential to continue growing. Of course more 3DS consoles on the streets will be needed for StreetPass to be a real success. The new low price point of the system (you should check the best price 3DS console comparison before making any purchases), along with highly anticipated games are sure to bolster the number of StreetPass moments in your area.