Wednesday, January 4, 2017

StreetPass Mii Plaza: Bundle 3

I'm late to this, because reasons.  Not going to go into them, they're mostly irrelevant anyway.  Let's get going, shall we?

Along with StreetPass Mii Plaza Version 5.0 is a third bundle of five games, this time with a unique opportunity: two of them are part of a special deal where you can pick one of them to get for free!  The remaining four games are $3, with a special bundle price of $9.  No discount for owning either of the other two bundles, sadly.

Each game has two hats and a speech bubble, but the Plaza update adds no other outfits or speech bubbles, which is actually kind of nice since it eliminates Plaza Tickets and a lot of mostly pointless busywork entirely.  The hats and speech bubble are given out in a consistent manner with the rest of the paid Plaza games: speech bubble and one hat for buying the game, and the second hat upon beating the game.

The titles this time are Slot Car Rivals, Market Crashers, Feed Mii, Ninja Launcher, and Mii Trek.  Rather than reviewing them in order, I'm going to tier them and review them that way.  The two you get to choose between for your free game are Slot Car Rivals and Market Crashers.

Good Tier

Slot Car Rivals

This is a racing game, but made incredibly simple so anyone can play it.  You can make any type of car you want, at any time, at no in-game cost, and customize its look to suit your tastes, again for no in-game cost.  The type of vehicle you're driving has no bearing on its performance, so go nuts.  The people you StreetPass are your competitors.  To race, your slot car needs a "booster", and you get a fairly basic one to start out.  However, each booster is only good for one race.  After each race, the people you StreetPass all get together and make a new booster for you.  Special Miis make the resulting booster's stats higher.

During each race, there are features on the course to pay attention to, perhaps most notably red corners.  You'll have to release the accelerator during these to avoid crashing, but if you press it again at the right time, you get a boost out of the corner.  There are also green charge areas followed by a rainbow area that let you boost over a jump if you keep the accelerator down in the green area and release it in the rainbow area, and blue boost areas that rocket you forwards ridiculously quickly.

You can also practice on any course you've raced on before, which is simultaneously nice and a small bit annoying.  The annoying bit is that you have to race on a course without ever having seen it before, thus using your booster, before you're able to practice that course.  It's not a hamstring on the game at all, just a minor complaint.

There are plenty of courses to unlock and choose from, with conditions to be met in order to progress through the game.  It all seems to be fair and genuine challenge.  Also, you'll unlock various special cars as you progress, these have all sorts of designs ranging from serious to silly.  Again, your choice of car does not matter at all, so go right ahead and make the most ridiculous thing you can think of.

This is my personal recommendation for your choice of free game.  It's fun and it actually makes me want to dump tons of play coins into continuing to play it.  If you end up getting Market Crashers as your free game instead, this one is definitely worth the purchase.

Feed Mii

Remember Find Mii, where the people you StreetPass are heroes, rescuing their king (your Mii) from monsters?  Well, heroes gotta eat, and in this game, you're the chef at the restaurant where they eat before they go fight.  How well they do depends on your cooking, so cook up a good mess of food!

Basically, everyone gives you an ingredient, and the game suggests a recipe.  Combine things together that you think would go in that recipe (or cheat and look it up on Google) and cook it up.  You'll get a rating depending on how good your result was, and then you'll get news on the heroes' progress.

However, you're not done there.  Your restaurant's fridge has limited space, you see.  It can only store five ingredients, and you're likely to have more than five.  After cooking for the heroes, you can now do culinary research.  This lets you refine recipes you've discovered, make them better, or come up with new recipes.  You can even use play coins to buy more ingredients.

This one is pretty fun, and I could spend a lot of time and play coins in the culinary research portion just cooking random things and unlocking all the recipes.  Worth the purchase?  Absolutely.

Surprisingly-better-than-I-thought-it-would-be Tier

Market Crashers

"A stock trading game?  Oooookaaaaaay..." was my exact thought going into this one.  I thought for sure that it'd be the shoe-in for the "Dud of this Bundle" award.  However, I was wrong.

In Market Crashers, you are indeed trading stocks.  The people you StreetPass are your analysts, and having more of them means you get more accurate information about what the stock's price is about to do.  The only thing you ever need to worry about is "buy low, sell high".  That's it.  It's that simple.

As you make money, you can buy products from the companies whose stocks you're trading.  Doing this has two benefits: One, the cost of the item is still counted towards your total assets (and thus your game progress), but can never be lost without you selling the item.  Two, it makes that company more likely to have good news during trading, which makes their stock do better, and if you play your cards right, you can make a ton of money.

The goal is just that: make a ton of money.  The game actually has a semi-decent glossary of terms in it, and it tries its hardest to explain one of the graphs it uses, but I'm still lost when I look at it.

I would still recommend picking Slot Car Rivals over this as your free game.  However, don't overlook this one, it's surprisingly good, and definitely worth purchasing.

Okay Tier

Mii Trek

Explore a jungle, find artifacts, take wildlife pictures.  The people you StreetPass are your explorers, and their combined step counts decide how far you get to travel.  Luckily, there seems to be a minimum number of steps that a Mii will give you, so you'll always have at least 500 steps from anyone you get.

There are some things you'll need to be aware of, though.  Sometimes you'll come across a rock or a thicket that will need to be dealt with.  You deal with this by mashing A within a short time frame.  If you're not ready for this, you won't be able to do it in time and will lose out on progress.

Also, when you find wildlife to take pictures of, the game is kind of vague on how it works.  It just says "Press A!" and expects you to know what to do.  Basically, you have to wait for a shadow to fly across the screen, and press A while it's on screen.  Then you get your picture.  Too early or too late, and you fail.

Along your journey, you'll occasionally encounter wildlife that needs to be dealt with using tranquilizer darts.  This isn't too difficult, just move the crosshair over the wildlife in question until you've got it positioned over the red dot, and press A to fire.  It doesn't move, so as long as you position your shot correctly, everything works as intended.

Lastly, and this is a big negative for a game about exploring: Once you find the main artifact that you're looking for in an area, that's it, you're done.  All the rest of the steps you'd gotten are wasted.  You don't get to go to any of the photo-op areas or any of the places where you can recover items from packs you find on the ground.  You don't get to use the rest of the steps in the next location.  It's kind of a letdown for a game that's about exploration.  Why cut off my exploration before I've fully explored the area?  Why can't I go back to an area and explore it further to get things I missed?

Once you've exhausted your steps, your Mii sets up camp and you get a summary of what you found, including a second chance to check out any artifacts you found or pictures you took.

It's a neat game, but if you're not just buying all of them, you may wish to divert your funds towards one of the titles higher up on this list before buying this one.

Shit Tier

Ninja Launcher

The premise of this one is hilarious, which is unfortunate given that the actual game falls flat on its ass.  Your Mii is a ninja, who needs to defeat a monster on the other side of the screen.  To get to it, you're shooting your Mii out of a cannon.  During your Mii's flight, you can grab powerups to your weapon, helm, or armor to let you do things better.  The people you StreetPass will fly kites with these powerups attached, and before firing the cannon, you have to position them along the path your Mii will travel.  If it's done right, you get an awesome cutscene of your Mii powering up and then taking down the foe.

See those words?  "If it's done right"?  Yeah.  Let me talk about that, because there's the aforementioned critical problem that makes this game fall flat on its ass.

You don't get enough time to position the powerups.  Even though you get extra time for each Mii you StreetPassed, it's still not enough.  For the first two stages, you get a flight path guide that's immensely helpful, but then it goes away and the nightmare begins.  Good luck getting more than about five powerups on each cannon shot after that.  To make things worse, some locations are windy and will take valuable time making sure you can't position anyone just so they can have gusts of wind.  It's super annoying, and doesn't add to the gameplay one bit.

You know what else?  Once you fire your shot and get whatever result you get, that's it.  It's over.  The three games at the top of this list have some sort of extra content you can access and extend the gameplay beyond the "let's do things with the Miis you StreetPassed!" portion of the game, but the two down at this end of the list just end and that's it.  Mii Trek "just ending" when you run out of steps is reasonable, because you make camp at that point, which is completely plausible for an explorer to do.  But this one?  Let me buy longer cannon fuses, allow me to use play coins to get the shot path guide past the FIRST TWO STAGES OF THE GAME, maybe also an upgrade to make the Miis start out closer to having their kites in the shot's path?  I dunno.  It needs something to extend the gameplay, or just to make it better.

If you're buying the games from this bundle one by one, you may wish to give this one a miss.  It's definitely the turd of the bunch, which I guess makes sense given the tier name.


Three (or four) out of five ain't bad, right?  Plus, you can get one of those three (or four) for free.  Also, the Plaza 5.0 update has other features I haven't covered that are definitely worth updating for, so, there's that.

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