When building a game for a new platform, we like to accent the features of the platform that make it unique. The 3DS has a lot to offer — stereoscopic gameplay, Play Coins, and the dual screen/touch screen — but we were really excited to highlight StreetPass. StreetPass is a feature of the 3DS that allows multiple 3DSs to exchange data when the systems are in range of each other and powered on (including in sleep mode).  So for example, you collect a hat in one game, and then when you pass your friend on the street, your game could send that hat to your friend, all without either of you doing anything!  It’s a very cool feature that you can’t find on other systems, and we found it to be criminally underused.  There have been interesting uses of it, but it seems like most games either 1) don’t bother with it or 2) implement it more as a token system that unlocks gameplay. In other words, if you see more people in the real world, you’ll unlock more of the game or be allowed to continue playing the game – that kind of thing.

We didn’t want to create something easy, standard, or an uninteresting implementation of StreetPass; we wanted to find a way to create a new gameplay experience! After many, many months of generating ideas and planning, we settled on the wonderfully bite-sized, wacky fun of the StreetPass Arena!

Shown above is the StreetPass Arena, the entrance to participate in StreetPass battles. It’s run by the infamous Passmaster Super Skeleton. Talking to Super Skeleton will allow you to participate in battles between two Shovel Knights in a format similar to Mario Bros:

As seen in the video, Mario Bros Battle gameplay is quick, wild matches where both players are dashing for coins and trying to take each other out. The person that collects the most coins (gems in our case) or defeats the other player with one hit wins the match.  It was an inspiration for our own mode, one that seemed appropriate for quick portable sessions.  Our battle mode is a frenetic fun race to the gems or wild fight between Shovel Knights where you can use every relic at Shovel Knight’s disposal!  But the StreetPass arena throws in a twist…you won’t be fighting each other at the same time. The StreetPass Arena instead asks that you record your battle strategy ahead of time without seeing your opponent.

What?!  That’s insane!  How could I possibly assemble anything resembling a strategy without seeing my opponent?!  To our surprise too (ha!), it actually works quite well, and leads to lots of crazy, goofy, intense action. Here’s a gif of what that recording process for one round of the battle looks like:

The battle takes place over three short, five second rounds.  You do your best to collect gems while guessing where the opposing Shovel Knight will be and swiping at air hoping you’ll hit your opponent.  Your opponent always starts on the right side and you will always start on the left side.  So you can probably see there are clear paths the other Shovel Knight will take.  Will he run above for two gems or below for three?  Will he initially run backwards for the close gem and maybe if I’m quick I can peg him with the flare wand?  There are lots of options and strategies; exploring and testing them out in various scenarios is a lot of fun!

So once you’ve recorded your strategy, now your Shovel Knight recording will be sent out to others in the world to compete.  Next time you enter the StreetPass Arena, if you have encountered any other StreetPass enabled 3DSs in the real world and successfully triggered StreetPass, the Passmaster will inform you of a battle that’s ready to watch.  So while you were walking down the street, your recording was busy fighting other recorded Shovel Knights in the arena.  You can then choose to watch the battle, and if you win, you’ll receive an award!

Here’s a gif of the first battle we ever did at Yacht Club Games!

Even in the first battle, without subweapons, there were crazy goofy strategies.  Like the 3rd round when the red Shovel Knight hid behind the wall and waited patiently, hoping the other Shovel Knight would be over the center area.

Alright, the explanation of StreetPass might be enough to process for one day. We hope everyone sees how fun the crazy fast, intense battles can be.  The bite-sized gameplay encourages a truly portable experience in our eyes, and we hope everyone always has Shovel Knight by there side, ready for a quick battle! Soon, in another post, we’ll delve a little more into the design process of the StreetPass Arena – where the idea came from, how it developed, why the stage changed so much from that first battle to the arena you see in the recording demo gif, and more. Let us know if you have questions about how the Arena works or if there are any questions you’d like answered in our next post about the design process.

For PART 2 of the StreetPass article fun, click here, and learn more about how the design came into being!