Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Japan, land of Miis

Shortly before my most recent trip to Japan, I decided to spring for a 3DS, as the DS I had was the old original model, and I hadn't actually bought it (rather, I inherited it), and well, a list of other rationalizations for spending $200 despite still not owning any actual 3DS games.

For me, one of the best features is what most serious gamers would probably label a peripheral and not invest much time or interest in. You see, similar to the Wii feature of the same name, you can create a Mii avatar for yourself. Instead of populating your plaza with Miis of your own creation modeled after friends and family (or perhaps Saddam Hussein), you only make one. Customize it up, choose a greeting and some favorites, and you're good to go. Then, to fill up your plaza, you walk around and collect Miis from other people. Or you would, anyway, if anyone in the U.S. just casually carried around their 3DS.

My motley band of Miis.
When I was in Japan, I was all over that! You see, Japan is so big on the wifi gaming a 'la Monster Hunter, Pokemon, etc, that people (not just kids!) actually carry their portable gaming devices around. In my travels on the train, in the mall, and to cities, I was racking those bad boys up. Then I came back home and haven't gotten a single Mii since. Sad face. Didn't even get any at the American airports I transferred at on my way home. Get some damn DS', Americans!

Aside from just collecting them, you can gain puzzle pieces from each new Mii (yeah, like jigsaw puzzle pieces; it's about as exciting as it sounds) and also use them as adventurers in a dungeon-crawl mini game in which your Mii is captured and must be rescued by whoever you can recruit. Each Mii you get (or mercenary you hire) can only be for one turn against your enemies, so you go through them pretty quickly as you progress through the dungeon from battle to battle.

Perhaps the most satisfying part of the whole thing is that there is a little green LED on the corner of the 3DS that as far as I can tell is used only exclusively to indicate Mii collection. When you see it lit up, you know you've been in the vicinity of a 3DS owner and swapped with them. So simple, yet it really does set off that dopamine. You Pokemon freaks out there know what I'm talking about.

The density of the population really aids this aspect of Japan's gaming culture, and it's something I miss.

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