Truly, it is a golden age: there have never been so many StreetPass games released at once as there were on September 1st 2016. You can now grab StreetPass Slot Racer, StreetPass Trader, StreetPass Chef, StreetPass Ninja and StreetPass Explorers. In fact, you can get one of Slot Racer or Trader for free. We're also told that they are quicker experiences than older StreetTitles (because come on, it can take ages to get through a level of StreetPass Squad).
So Zero bravely went out to the local town centre to StreetPass. He collected ten hits, stout and true. They came from England. They (well, one) came from Wales. One intrepid explorer made his way from New York. The eleven strong crowd set out. First, they went fishing. Soaked and disconsolate, they then turned their collective attention to these wee beasties.
StreetPass Slot Racer (Good-Feel)
The trailer really revved my engines but the gameplay is a bit lacking, to be honest. You race your slot racer - read "Scalextric car" - against whoever you've StreetPassed recently. Admittedly these early impressions are based on the first course - a potato-y oval with three corners - but to win it seems you bomb down the straits and slow at the corners, with little other strategy on offer. There's a timing thing with when you start to accelerate out of the corner - you can be rated 'Good' or 'Excellent', which is nice - but at the moment I'm hoping it gets a bit more exciting when you unlock some extra courses. Next!
StreetPass Trader (Good-Feel)
The second of the possible free games, Trader is exactly that. You follow the fortunes of one stock throughout the day, buying low and selling high. To aid you in this quest, anyone you've StreetPassed pops up to predict how things will go during the day. A graph appears, already frightening thousands of people all over the world, which you have to remember. Then, well, the Pet Shop Boys echo in your ear - "Let's make lots of money".
As you may not have memorised the graph, your StreetPassed advisors pop on screen and try to remind you how the stock will do in real time. Get this, though - they are sometimes wrong. This, and a combination of not really knowing what I was doing, caused me to lose £269,500 of my million pound budget on the first day. It's at this point that your arch-rival is introduced, who has literally squillions of pounds to his name.
Although I've written a lot about this, it's easy to feel like I've seen everything it's got to offer in that first go. There's almost no reason to pick this one over Slot Racer as your free game. I suppose if you do work in the city, it'd be good practice/charming.
StreetPass Chef (Prope)
As a long-time fan of MasterChef, I was really looking forward to this one. There's no Gregg Wallace, John Torode or Marcus Wareing (thankfully), though: you're in the capable hands of Geoff the Chef, another chap to add to the list of memorable StreetPass game advisors (although StreetPass Garden's Mr. Mendel can stay locked in his greenhouse forever, for me). The colour of your StreetPassees determines what ingredients you have available. You then get a requested dish - which you can change for something else, if you feel you haven't got the ingredients - and it's on with the cooking!
There are no Cooking Mama-style mini-games, though! Meals just appear, provided you have used the right ingredients, and this is where things fall over a bit. I fear you may get requests with no idea how to fulfil them, and I couldn't see how to get clues on what was needed. Also, as veteran StreetPassers will know, getting Miis of certain colours is rare, so some meals may be far off possibilities. You can buy people in with Play Coins but I didn't check if you can select their colour. You can also keep a number of leftover ingredients in the fridge for your next flurry of hits, so there's that.
You're also viewing the great StreetPass Quest from a different angle: your meals are for heroes about to embark on said quest. The quality of your meal determines how far they get. It's a charming idea but it remains to be seen how fun it'll be long-term.
StreetPass Ninja (Prope)
I'm currently desperately struggling to get through The Mysterious Murasame Castle, the rock hard NES game that returned as the ninja-star flicking game on Nintendo Land. StreetPass Ninja captured some of its essence as your guide looks like a female version of MMC's lead, Takamaru. The similarities end there, though, as Ninje is a little bit straightforward.
Not that that's a bad thing - this is my early favourite. You start the game proper naked in a cannon. Everyone you've StreetPassed has brought with them something that will help you: armour, weapons, clean underwear. They're standing under the cannon's flight path and have bundled their goodie into a kite floating above them. You have to position them so that you'll grab their item as you're fired from the cannon. You can test fire using a scarecrow to get an idea of the arc before committing yourself and your StreetPassees to action.
All this is to a time limit and arranging my ten hits was a little bit frantic. Seeing Ninja Mii/me collect all ten items and smash my foe to bits was a lot of fun, though. I'm itching to get my mitts on more hits and fly through the air with the greatest of ease - and the least of third-degree burns - again, and I can't quite say that for all of the other members of the five.
StreetPass Explorers (Arzest)
This list is in the order I played the games, which is basically the order in which they arrived in the Plaza. Everyone knows that you need a good finish, a high note to end on, a cliffhanger; something interesting or exciting. Explorers didn't deliver, for me. Of course early impressions can change, but it seemed fussy and poorly explained. Anyway, let's get to the end from the beginning.
You're exploring (doy). The more steps your StreetPassees have made that day, the further you can charge around the map and nab any treasure along the way. As a new way of using StreetPass hits, this deserves praise in and of itself. But exploring can be dangerous: you might find animals hell bent on having you for tea, or rocks that block your route, or dead ends that force you to turn back. Animals must be tranquilised, so you line up a shot on their designated sensitive area (stop it) and pull the trigger. But this is done in the dark, with your crosshairs acting as a torch, to a time limit, with no explanation of what's going on.
Rocks can be pushed aside by hammering the A button - but as this wasn't explained to me first time, I failed to mash button enough, and was forced to turn back. You can't do anything about dead ends - just head back the way you came and curse your luck. With the tutorial and the ten hits I did get to the end of the first map, only to find a statue of the game's guide. Thanks for that, guys.
Now I know what's going on a bit more, it might pan out long-term. Let's say I'm crossing my fingers but not holding my breath.
Some of these have the potential to join the ranks of StreetPass classics out there but some will join StreetPass Battle on the heap of 'Why did they ever do that?' games. Time will tell and there's reason to be optimistic in some cases. At the very least there's good reason to head out there with your 3DS and pass some folk on the street again (that's not another ruddy puzzle, thank goodness). That's good enough for me.