All About Nintendo’s StreetPass Feature

I didn’t know anything about the StreetPass function of the Nintendo 3DS before I bought my Nintendo 2DS but it’s become my favorite out of all the features that the 3DS has, even over the glasses-free 3D functionality that has become the device’s signature. It’s a feature that I think should be a part of any portable gaming device, so developers over at Apple, Sony, and Google should really consider coming up with something similar for their next generation models.


Scratch that – I’d like to keep this a Nintendo-only feature. So if you’re with Apple, Sony, or are developing devices for the Android operating system, please ignore this article. Everything that I’m going to share here is trivial and irrelevant, so don’t waste your time reading this. Here’s a nice picture of rainbows and unicorns to make your time reading up to this point somewhat worthwhile.

rainbows and unicorns

Rainbows and unicorns make everything nicer. Or so I’ve been told.

Okay, where was I? StreetPass, my favorite Nintendo 3DS feature! Because of StreetPass, I rarely leave home without bringing my New Nintendo 3DS XL along with me. It’s actually one of the reasons why I decided to upgrade from the Nintendo 2DS – I needed a 3DS model that was more portable. And not only did this feature make me want to bring my New 3DS XL with me everywhere I go, it has also motivated me to go out more than I used to.

It even got me to join a few StreetPass meet-up groups in the country – fellow 3DS owners who meet up regularly in order to get StreetPass tags and play games. I met really cool people because of StreetPass, some of which are now my friends. How did a video gaming feature get me to leave the comfort of my home and, heaven forbid, meet up and become friends with strangers? Well, let me explain how StreetPass works.

If you leave your 3DS on and in Sleep mode with the WiFi feature left on (by closing the clamshell 3DS versions or using the Sleep switch on the 2DS), the 3DS device will send out signals and look for other nearby 3DS devices. When it encounters one in the nearby area and both you and the owner of the other 3DS device have a game in common that has StreetPass enabled, then both devices will exchange data.


Nintendo 3DS devices send/receive data to each other that video games can use in different ways.

Okay, so that didn’t sound exciting at all. Well, that’s the technical stuff – the fun lies in how the StreetPass-enabled video games use this data. You see, different video games use this data differently, some in more interesting ways than others. I’ll talk about three of the video games that I own which utilized StreetPass in ways that I liked so much, I got prompted to go out and get as many StreetPass tags as I could.

Pokemon Shuffle

Pokemon Shuffle is a free-to-play match three puzzle game that employs a system of limited plays that replenish over time, like Candy Crush but for the Nintendo 3DS instead of mobile phones or Facebook. This game employs microtransactions, wherein players can spend real-life money to buy Jewels. Jewels, in turn, are spent in the game to either purchase more plays (called Hearts in the game) or coins for buying in-game powerups, or for adding more moves at the end of a stage if you run out.

Pokemon Shuffle utilizes StreetPass in ways that help players avoid having to spend money on Jewels by awarding bonus Hearts and Jewels depending on the number of StreetPass tags that you get. 

pokemon shuffle streetpass

Getting additional “plays” via StreetPass is less intrusive than sending game notifications in Facebook to ask your friends to send you more “plays”.

For every 10 StreetPass tags that you get for Pokemon Shuffle, you’re awarded a bonus Heart that’s separate from your normal, replenishing Hearts. If you get a StreetPass tag from the same person three and four times in a row, you also get awarded a bonus Heart each time. And if you get a StreetPass tag from the same person five times in a row, you get awarded two bonus Hearts! Finally, for every 100 StreetPass tags that you get for Pokemon Shuffle, you get awarded a free Jewel! 

This all sounds simple, but note that one Jewel costs $0.99 of real-life money (there are bundles wherein you can get a number of free Jewels depending on how many you buy). You can buy five bonus Hearts with one Jewel (again, there are bundles wherein you can get additional Hearts) so there’s monetary value to each Pokemon Shuffle StreetPass tag that you get.

StreetPass definitely helps avoid the need to spend any money in this game, and it’s definitely a less intrusive version of the “ask your friends for free plays” approach that I’ve seen in Facebook games.

Fire Emblem Awakening

Fire Emblem Awakening is a turn-based strategy RPG that allows players to send armies comprised of their avatar and up to nine of their characters. When you get a StreetPass tag for this game, you’ll see
green-colored units appear on the game’s world map.

fire emblem

StreetPass armies will show up as green units on the world map in Fire Emblem Awakening.

You can then move up to the location of the unit and do several things to it like view the stats of each of the characters in that army, recruit the army’s leader (the avatar of the person you got the StreetPass tag from) for a fee, fight the army, buy items from that army, or dismiss the army and remove it from the world map.


You should view the stats of each StreetPass army before you even think of engaging them in battle.

The most interesting action, out of all these, is to fight the armies in battle. That person’s StreetPass army will be automatically controlled by the game’s AI but to offset that, StreetPass armies have a built-in numbers advantage as you can only bring eight of your characters for StreetPass battles.

If you win, you get several rewards – the ability to recruit your opponent’s avatar for free, additional EXP for your characters (which is always welcome as Fire Emblem Awakening does not have non-DLC replayable battles for grinding) and item/gold rewards. You also gain additional Renown, an in-game commodity that unlocks special items for free depending on how high your Renown is.

Avatar characters are especially strong in Fire Emblem Awakening as they have access to skills that are unique to their class, so they’re usually worth recruiting to your army. They’re also more expendable than the in-game playable characters because they don’t have storylines (there’s “permadeath” in Fire Emblem Awakening wherein you’ll lose anyone who dies permanently). And even if there aren’t any rewards to it, simply winning against the armies of other people is rewarding enough. Wouldn’t you want to see how well your Fire Emblem team can do against others?

The way Fire Emblem Awakening utilizes the StreetPass feature is not only helpful to your gameplay, but quite entertaining too.

StreetPass Mii Plaza

There are a lot of other high profile video games out there that utilize StreetPass, but I can’t talk about StreetPass features and not mention StreetPass Mii Plaza, an application that is pre-installed in all Nintendo 3DS devices.

StreetPass Mii Plaza, as indicated by it’s name, utilizes the StreetPass feature and Miis, which are Nintendo’s take on avatars. The application itself shares basic, nice to know information about the avatar’s owner like his/her hobbies, birthday, and the last game/application that they were using.


Apparently, Jesus and Iron Man both own a Nintendo 3DS. And I got StreetPass tags from both of them, too.

However, StreetPass Mii Plaza is actually a software suite that has different mini-games that center around the StreetPass feature, and it comes with two free mini-games right off the bat: Find Mii and Puzzle Swap.

Find Mii is a game that’s like an RPG wherein each person that you get a StreetPass tag from becomes a playable character. You have them fight turn-based battles and if they win you can sometimes win different kinds of head gear that you can equip on your Mii (which will then show up on another player’s Mii Plaza when you tag them). After beating Find Mii, you can unlock a harder version with more content aptly named Find Mii 2.


Find Mii is a simple game has turn-based RPG elements where you can win headgear that you can equip on your Mii avatar.

Puzzle Swap is a game wherein you can get puzzles pieces from other people. They’re not really “puzzles” as you don’t get to solve anything though – they’re actually pictures that have animations that you can view once you complete the entire image. Currently, there are 47 different images (North American version) that you can collect pieces for, most of which were added via online updates.


Most of the “puzzles” in Puzzle Swap have basic animations and can be viewed in 3D once you complete them.

These two minigames are very simple and yet very engaging. I’ve had my Nintendo 2DS since November 2013 and after almost two years, I still look forward to getting StreetPass tags so I can get more headgear and more puzzle pieces.

You have the option to buy other StreetPass Mii Plaza minigames so you can maximize your StreetPass tags for this application, but I’ve never bought any of them so I can’t really comment about them. Friends have recommended some of these titles, like the horizontal shoot ’em up Mii Force, the Ultimate Angler fishing game, or the zombie-centric action game known as Battleground Z.

There are a lot more games that utilize StreetPass in other ways, whether for sharing your progress or stats in a game (Brain Age: Concentration Training), as part of competitive mini-games where you can battle other players (Dead or Alive: Dimensions, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds) or as a means to share items and other helpful game effects (Bravely Default, Fantasy Life) but this article is already long enough without me going into details.

Take my word for it – StreetPass is such an innovative feature that not only got me to bring my 3DS units almost everywhere I go, but also got me to meet other fellow 3DS owners. It’s a feature that developers should put into their 3DS games, and a feature that I hope becomes a mainstay in all of Nintendo’s future handheld gaming devices.

What do you think about Nintendo’s StreetPass feature? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below!

2 thoughts on “All About Nintendo’s StreetPass Feature

    • Thanks! I actually wanted to write about more games but the article is already long enough as it is. In choosing among all my other games, Fire Emblem Awakening stood out as the one that really utilizes StreetPass tags really well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s