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I Miss the Nintendo Zone Viewer February 24, 2015

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.

Nintendo has just released an entirely new 3DS model, called the New Nintendo 3DS XL, and it has been selling like crazy to both new and current 3DS owners. Since I got an original Nintendo 3DS XL over two years ago, my first Nintendo handheld device in twenty years, I have not only enjoyed the catalog of DS, DSiware and 3DS games I can play on it tremendously, I’m still using its included features, like StreetPass Plaza, on a daily basis.

Like with all modern electronic devices, the 3DS is designed to use wireless internet for not just web browsing, but also online distribution for games, applications and other downloadable content. Setting up wireless internet for a personal electornic device intended to just be used in one or two places is not much of a big deal, but it can be really inconvenient if you plan to use a device that’s always on the go. It’s an even bigger issue when you take into account that Nintendo makes handhelds for all ages, and not all of their customers are technically inclined. For example, I cannot tell you how many Nintendo Wii owners I’ve met which had no idea the Wii even had online capabilities, and as such were still using the firmware the system came installed with.  However, unless you plan to play your Wii games online or buy digital games like Virtual Console or Wiiware titles, you don’t have to worry about bringing your Wii online.  However, unlike the Wii, you want to be able to bring your 3DS online. The 3DS has some great online games and some fun digital exclusives, but having to set it up every time you visit a new access point can be quite irritating, especially since the handheld can only hold a few WiFi profiles in memory.

To remedy this, Nintendo set up a Nintendo Zone network across the world and installed them in many popular businesses like McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Barnes & Noble. The beauty of a Nintendo Zone is that the 3DS will automatically connect to it as long as your WiFi is enabled without any need to set anything up, or take up any of the limited WiFi profiles in the 3DS. Some cell phone providers also offer a similar WiFi service for anyone who uses their phones but unlike 3DS owners who use the service, cell phone customers have to pay for their devices’ service every month and I’m sure the companies only do it to offset the stress on their cellular networks caused by heavy web surfing. The Nintendo Zone service on the other hand…is completely free. Heck I can use my 3DS almost anywhere when I’m on the go at no charge and I can use it to download game demos, browse miiverse, and play online multiplayer titles.

I tend not to do any web browsing in public, but I will use the Zones for doing 3DS specific tasks. When connected to a Nintendo Zone, the player could boot an app called the Nintendo Zone Viewer.  While the Nintendo Zone viewer worked in a lot of ways like a one stop shop for Wii U and 3DS game trailers, something that most players can already do through the Nintendo eShop, it had a lot of exclusive features that you could not do from home.  You could complete surveys, take part in a trivia contest, stream newer episodes of the Pokémon animated series, and more.  The app would only work at designated Nintendo Zone locations, and while I’m sure a lot of people would say most of those features should have been offered through any open online connection, I personally thought that giving 3DS owners an incentive to pilgrimage to designated Nintendo Zone locations strengthened the local community of 3DS players in my area by giving us a place to go to share of love of Nintendo products.  Nintendo upped the usefulness of the Nintendo Zone service even further by integrating a StreetPass relay into it, allowing users to collect the StreetPass data of the last six 3DS users who used the Nintendo Zone so they could be used in StreetPass compatible games.

Sadly, the last major system update for the 3DS discontinued access to the Nintendo Zone Viewer.  The 3DS can still seamlessly log into Nintendo Zone hotspots and use them for internet access and StreetPass relay, but the Nintendo Zone Viewer app no longer functions and that means that 3DS owners can no longer access its exclusive content.  Quite a shame really, as I liked answering trivia questions with my friends while having coffee, but the content hadn’t been updated in a while and was getting pretty outdated.

I really would like to see what Nintendo plans to do next with this service.  If they want, I would be happy to give them some ideas.



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