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The Nintendo 3DS's StreetPass Mii Plaza is now home to two brand new games hailing from completely different genres. There's an undead bash-a-thon called Battleground Z and a laid-back fishing title called Ultimate Angler. But are they worth adding to your portable gaming collection?
StreetPass Mii Plaza is a unique concept, encouraging players to take their 3DS with them everywhere they go in order to earn StreetPasses. Simply walk by someone else who has a 3DS, and their Mii will visit your Plaza. Along with getting to see what their avatar looks like and learn about their hobbies, these Miis can be used to play a collection of simple games within the plaza.
While the Plaza had a humble beginning, boasting only a puzzle-swapping game and a sort-of dungeon crawler, a foursome of new titles was added recently. These games have you flying spaceships, growing flowers, combating massive armies, and busting ghosts in a haunted house.
The latest titles, Ultimate Angler and Battleground Z, complement that collection nicely, giving you two fresh experiences that play differently than anything in the library. You can grab them for five bucks each or eight dollars as a bundle. And if you've already purchased one of the previous Mii Plaza games, your final bill will be dropped down to $6.99 for the bundle.
I decided to take these new games for a spin, carrying my 3DS to a few heavily-trafficked locations this past weekend to collect a bunch of Miis and put them through their paces. Here's what I discovered.
What many may not know about these Plaza games is that they were created by notable developers. Battleground Z, for instance, comes from Good-Feel, the team responsible for games like Kirby's Epic Yarn and the upcoming Yoshi's Woolly World. They're also responsible for a previous Plaza game: Mii Force. And that's immediately evident in Battleground Z's structure.
Most of the Plaza games feature some sort of an open grind. You can use your collected Miis to grow flowers, collect puzzle pieces or explore room after room in a haunted mansion. Much like Mii Force, however, Battleground Z is mission-based. Each time you play the game, you'll get a shot at your current mission, which will be populated by all of the Miis you've recently collected.
The city has been overrun by zombies and you just so happen to be the guy who can help everyone find their way to safety. Being a family-friendly Nintendo game, though, these aren't the types of zombies you'd expect out of a Resident Evil title. From the undead dogs to the walkers strolling around with spiked trashcans on their heads, everything here is bright, colorful, and silly. Even the zombies' biting animation is adorable when they manage to get a hold of you.
While the missions may vary, your involvement is typically limited to good old fashioned beat-em-up tactics. You have a light attack and a charged attack, and each Mii you've gathered gives you another weapon you can use against your enemies. This is important, since your weapons' strength is technically your life bar. If all of your weapons run out of strength, you'll need to try the mission again. If a certain mission is giving you trouble, you should probably wait until you've got more Mii friends gathered before barging in again.
What makes Battlegound Z unique, though, is that the weapons you receive are based off of the Mii's hobby. If they've got their hobby set to gaming, you'll earn a Wii remote that functions like a sword. Do they like cooking? Here's a frying pan that has a devastating charged attack. It wipes out a wide range of enemies directly in front of you. You'll be waging war on the undead with all kinds of silly contraptions, including a megaphone, a pop-up book that boasts a fire-breathing dragon, a boombox, a tablet, and even a car. Juggling which weapon, and especially its charged attack, will suit a situation best is all part of the challenge.
Along the way, you'll be able to invite Miis that you meet to join your party rather than simply giving you their weapon. You can also pick up repair items for your weapons and their special attacks, or even a power-up that lets you run around at warp speed, slamming through hordes of zombies like Mario after grabbing a Super Star.
I was sold on Ultimate Angler the moment I saw Nintendo's reveal trailer for the new Plaza games. I've mentioned before that I'm a sucker for fishing games, and that extends to fishing mini-games, too. Whether I'm playing Story of Seasons, Animal Crossing, or an MMO like Lord of the Rings Online or Final Fantasy XIV, even the most basic fishing mini-game has the ability to get me hooked. I should probably see a psychiatrist about that. I'm sure it says something important about my personality.
Anyway, much like Battleground Z, Ultimate Angler comes from a developer with a resume. They've made a few family games for Nintendo in the past and are also responsible for the Plaza game, Monster Manor.
In Ultimate Angler, you're on a quest to snag as many fish as humanly possible in relaxing settings scattered across a collection of islands. As your fellow Miis come to visit, they'll provide you with bait that matches the color of clothing they've chosen to wear. This is important because the fish will only strike on bait that happens to be one of their favorites. If you're having trouble catching one particular fish, you can even combine several of their favorite baits in order to lure them in.
The fishing mini-game itself is slightly more involved than the traditional “press A to set the hook when the bobber sinks and you win!” You still need to do that, of course, but then you need to actually reel the bugger in. You can use either the circle pad or an on-screen reel to accomplish this, matching your speed to the growing tension on the line. You'll also need to watch out for the fish itself, as a particularly feisty critter will raise the tension more quickly. If you're trying to catch a large fish, your recently collected Miis will also offer support, helping you pull the big guy in.
When you're not fishing, you can spend a little time in the clubhouse. That's where you can buy and decorate new aquariums, store and view your favorite catches, and even customize your tactics a bit. You can build new poles and even upgrade their stats as you earn in-game coins. Certain poles offer different pros and cons, which will need to be taken into consideration when going after the more legendary catches.
The best thing about Battleground Z and Ultimate Angler is that they play nothing like the other games in the Plaza collection. It's not that there's anything wrong with those games, but it's nice to have completely new experiences to enjoy with all of those Miis I've been collecting.
Like the other plaza games, both of these latest offerings are light, mostly simple romps, serving as a nice distraction or a way to fill a few minutes while riding on the bus or waiting in the theater for the movie to start. But even though they are made to be casual, it's clear that a lot of time and effort went into making them entertaining, too.
If you own a 3DS and spend any amount of time playing the StreetPass games, there should be nothing holding you back from adding these newest titles to your collection. I'm still playing several of the previous games and, according to my 3DS' log, I've spent over 200 hours in the Mii Plaza. In other words, I certainly got a decent bang for my buck, and I can see both Battleground Z and Ultimate Angler keeping me busy as background games for months, and probably even years, to come.