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The One Nintendo 3DS Feature that the Switch Really Needs

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The Nintendo 3DS is dying. Oh sure, it’s surviving way longer than anyone could have guessed, and Nintendo and third party developers are still pushing out the occasional game to the popular device, but it’s time is almost up. The end is in sight, and it has never been more clear that the Switch is the future for Nintendo, both at home and on the go. This was made even clearer this morning with the announcement that StreetPass relay stations would be shut down around Japan, which made me wonder why the Switch doesn’t have a StreetPass system of its own.

It’s the one major feature that I truly miss in the transition from 3DS to Nintendo Switch. I can live without the second screen, the 3D effect (that almost everyone left turned off), and the clamshell design. All were neat and useful things at one point or another, but the Switch offers enough of its own unique elements that I can give these all up and move forward happily. Except for the missing StreetPass feature.

In case you never enjoyed the wonders of StreetPass, it allowed players to tag each other out in the real world and then use other players’ Mii characters in special StreetPass games. These started out really simple, but as the feature caught on, especially in Japan, they grew more complex as Nintendo released more as DLC. They also enhanced the feature set as a whole, offering stuff like VIP characters, faster menu navigation, and more.

Over the last few years I’ve grown to love StreetPass

Over the last few years I’ve grown to love StreetPass. I never could use it every day, as I live in a rural area where few people I come across on the street have a 3DS at all, let alone actually carrying it with them. But at conventions or other gaming-centric events it has been a blast. Any time I needed to take a break from standing in line, or rushing from one booth to another I could pull out my 3DS and work through some StreetPass connections, which at conventions like PAX and E3 were ubiquitous. I also took a trip to Japan where it felt like every single person carried their 3DS with them, resulting in a near endless stream of StreetPasses the whole trip.

The game you could use the characters in ranged from a ton of fun to just boring, but you could just avoid the less enjoyable ones and focus on the games you preferred. The DLC games really fleshed out the possibilities and turned a fun diversion into a full-fledged gaming experience of its own. Its total uniqueness added to the experience, and as I game more and more on my Switch, leaving my 3DS at home to languish in a drawer, I find myself missing StreetPass quite a bit.

I understand why Nintendo might avoid adding StreetPass to the Switch. For one, it might involve some extra hardware so at this point it could be impossible. Even if that wasn’t an issue, it is likely a decent drain on the battery. The 3DS had some extra power to spare, but with its large screen and much more visually robust games the Switch eats through its battery as if it was the Game Gear come back to life (OK, it’s nowhere near that bad, but playing Zelda can really take it down fast).

So it makes sense to avoid it, especially since only people who actually live in a city or go to conventions ever experienced it at its fullest potential. But man, when you are able to it’s a really cool, fun, and distinct way to play games. There’s something special about seeing your StreetPass light go off and know that someone somewhere near you also had their 3DS with them. It also incentivized me to bring my 3DS places I wouldn’t otherwise, and now that motivation is gone for the Nintendo Switch. Hopefully it’s possible to roll it out on there, cause I’ll be missing it if it doesn’t.