A 3DS, Street Pass And The Last Train To Bombay – Part 1

A 3DS, Street Pass And The Last Train To Bombay – Part 1

24,132 steps, 11 Kotaku readers, seven train journeys, four JB Hifis, three EBs, three video game arcades, two LAN centres, one trip to Sydney Airport and so much more. All in the name of a single, arguably pointless goal – 50 Street Pass hits in one single day. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll shake your head in a condescending manner. This is the story of one man, his 3DS, and The Last Train To Bombay.

A MOMENT OF TRUTH George St. 6.45pm. “We have a reservation at 9pm. Don’t forget! I love you! Have fun :)” read the text message. My wife didn’t understand – I didn’t expect her to. How could she? The task ahead of me was unexplainable, insurmountable – pathologically stupid. 50 Street Pass hits in one day? Impossible. I stood despairing on George Street, 6.45pm, rain dribbling down my forehead. My legs ached. My phone throbbed with a single smidgen of battery life. I was demoralised. A broken man. How did I get to this point? What was the rationale behind this insanity? What was the bloody point of it all…

Street Pass. Street Pass. Street Pass. The words spangled through my frontal lobe like some forgotten nightmare – a primal, ungodly memory buried deep in my subconscious. I had convinced myself this excursion would be worthwhile, fun even.

But it hadn’t been. It wasn’t.

After receiving my 3DS, and discovering Street Pass, I’d noticed some subtle lifestyle changes – morning routines altered, travel paths changed. Each time I went to a train station, I’d walk up and down the platform, dangerously close to large groups of commuters. I’d stand next to escalators, attempting to make e-contact with the most people in the most concentrated fashion.

“I’m starting to do some pretty weird things to get Street Pass hits,” I tweeted.

“Can we get a diary and photos of them please :)” asked someone in response.

And that’s how this crazy endeavour began.

IF YOU SEE ME WALKING DOWN THE STREET But first, some Cliff notes. Street Pass occurs when two 3DSs, in close proximity to one another, automatically exchange data. Said data is usually transferred in the form of shared Miis, which can then be used in a couple of mini games – one a sub-RPG, the other a series of dull picture puzzles.

When the 3DS was first announced it was a concept I barely understood – let alone cared about – until I received my first Street Pass hit. Then… everything changed. The bizarre shared experience, the fuzzy feeling that comes with finding common ground with a complete stranger was almost inspiring, compelling. Instantly I wanted more. I began carrying my 3DS everywhere I went, on the off chance that I could potentially receive more Street Pass hits.

But that was just the beginning. Today I had woken up at 8.30am on a Saturday morning. I’d given myself 12 hours – just 12 hours – to receive 50 Street Pass hits.

It was going to be a long day.

IT NEVER RAINS BUT IT POURS Parramatta Westfield. 9.15am This was my local Westfield. At 9.15am on a Saturday morning. It’s difficult to see properly through the veil of my crappy iPhone 3 lens, but it was raining. A lot.

I had prepared wisely. My major worry was that the less-than-stellar 3DS battery wouldn’t hold out for an entire day so, in addition to charging the previous night, I also turned off the 3D effect, and reduced the brightness to the absolute lowest setting. I silently made a solemn vow to not play the 3DS at any point in order to save battery life – a difficult decision considering the amount of time I planned to spend on public transport.

Regardless, my first stop was Parramatta Westfield. A combination of terrible weather and the peculiar time of day meant that very few people had started shopping yet, but in order to squeeze in the numerous destinations I had in mind, sacrifices had to be made.

It was on these hallowed grounds that my journey began – my local JB Hi-Fi.

The JB in question was the first spot in a convenient little circle trot I had designed for myself. But sadly, despite patiently traipsing through the entire store, there were no hits to be had. The store was completely dead.

In my local Westfield the JB is right next to Electronics Boutique. So I rushed there amidst dreams of adolescent hordes, huddled around the handheld section like frothing trolls.

Tragedy. The store was empty. I don’t know what I was expecting at 9.30 in the morning. I started to chat to the store clerk – turns out he had a 3DS in the back with Street Pass turned on.

First hit GET!

I rushed out. I had two more places to hit up and not much time to do so – tight schedule. The next stop was obvious: GAME.

Once inside my local GAME I got chatting to the staff – turns out two of the three staff members had 3DSs. A thought occurred to me – what if I just abandoned my quest to raid the entire city of Sydney. What if I just hung around video game stores all day and let the hits come to me.

“We get roughly five Street Pass hits a day in the store,” claimed one staff member. Shattering that plan quick smart. “I usually get an extra two or three on the way to the food court.”

That settled it. I would need a lot more than five hits if I was to complete my task. Ten times that number to be precise. I needed to go somewhere different. A place where thousands of people, in desperate need of portable entertainment, congregated into one tight area. I needed to find my 3DS Valhalla.

“Why not go to the airport?” Another GAME staff member asked.

Why not indeed.

TRAINING DAY Parramatta Train Station, 10.01am After a quick run through the Food Court, and a blast through Game Traders, I headed towards Parramatta Train Station. At this point it’s probably worth going into detail on my ‘train technique’, designed to maximise each journey’s Street Pass potential to the fullest.

My technique is relatively simple, and involves covering the most ground in the shortest time possible. On the platform, whilst waiting for the train, it’s important to be continually pounding the concrete, getting uncomfortably close to as many people as possible. It’s impossible to tell who has a 3DS and who doesn’t – it’s important not to resort to stereotypes.

When the train arrives, try and get into either the first or the last carriage. Now the real fun begins.

My trick is to basically walk through each and every single carriage, bottom floor first. It’s easier if the train is new and features the doors pictured above. Eventually you’ll get to a dead end. When this happens I head back through the carriages, this time going upstairs. As soon as the train stops, I exit and rush up the platform, trying to make it into a new carriage, so I can repeat the trick.

During my Saturday I went on seven train journeys, and I used this technique every single time. Even when I was on the old school trains, even when I was explicitly asked not to.

Disclaimer: do not try this at home/on the train. This is not James Bond, this is not Mission Impossible. This is the end result of a stupid idea taken way too far, and I’m a complete and utter idiot.

TWO FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST Sydney Domestic Airport, 10.55 In two minutes of down time, I quickly checked my 3DS. The 3DS can only hold ten new Street Pass hits at any one time, so it was of extreme importance that I check my 3DS frequently in order to clear out my most recent hits, in preparation for new additions.

Or so I thought.

Just before arriving at Sydney Domestic Airport, I opened my bag. A familiar reassuring green glow awaited me. The anticipation was tangible. Surely I had five hits at least, three from my EB and GAME excursion, and two randoms from my thorough public transport expeditions.

I had two hits. Total. Two solitary Street Pass hits. How was this even possible?

Unabated I continued, steeling my gaze. Speed walking. This was the airport for goodness sake. I’ve never – ever – entered an airport without a Nintendo handheld stowed away in my carry-on luggage. Surely this would be an unprecedented Street Pass goldmine.

I stuck with the crowds. During my pre-planning I asked Lifehacker Editor and mega-frequent-flyer Angus Kidman which Terminal would be best. Terminal 3 is for overseas travel, obviously, but I wouldn’t be able to get beyond the gates – so it would have to be a domestic effort. Angus claimed that, before lunch at least, the Virgin Blue/Jetstar terminal would be my most secure bet. So I headed there – with gusto – powering through every step.

I had very little time, having scheduled a Kotaku meet-up at 12 o’ clock, and I had to cover as much ground as possible in 30 minutes if I was to make it in time. Wandering around check-in was completely pointless. I decided if I was to make the most of this trip, I’d have to head in to the boarding lounge.

The queue was long, and therein lay the dilemma because, by that virtue, I was guaranteed vast, dense crowds of 3DS contact points both in the queue and in the various gates once I finally got past security. I made the executive decision to spend 10 mins queuing before smashing through every gate in the terminal.

Roadblock. The over-zealous customs guy selected me for a random bag search! WHY!? Why did I do? Too much eye contact on the way through? Too little?

Turns out I had left a can of deodorant in my bag as it went through the scanner. Precious minutes lost as a result of that mistake.

But I was in. Once more into the Street Pass breach my friends. Once more.

It was at this point that I expressly started wondering – what was the wizardry behind these Street Pass shenanigans. Just how close did I have to get before it kicked in, and for how long? It was unfortunate said paranoia began to manifest itself the minute I spotted a group of young children huddled around handheld devices, but I assure you it was pure coincidence.

But try telling that to the parent giving me the stink-eye when I began to hover a little too close to the poor kids huddled on the airport floor on gate 37 – they were hearing none of it. I rushed off in the nick of time, just before the cries of “mummy, who’s that weird ginger man?” began to arise amidst the crowd.

To the food court!

I tried to make two full runs of this food court, mainly because I knew that it would be one place in the Terminal that was constantly in flux – new people entering, others heading to their gate after scoffing down Maccas. I wandered speedily between the tables, feigning as though looking for a seat. I did this three times before time started getting ahead of me.

It was 11.40. Time to head to the Kotaku meet-up.

And then, as I rushed towards the train station a horrible thought possessed me – I had forgotten to clear out my Street Pass hits. I had just walked from one end of the terminal to the other, with three trips to the food court in between, surely I would have gathered more than ten hits in that time.

Frantically I opened my bag, sure enough that green glow awaited me. Opening my 3DS I headed straight to the Mii plaza – how many had I picked up in my time at the airport? The grand total was in.

Two more hits. A measely two hits.

A mild feeling of nausea hit me directly in the pit of my bowels. This was going to be tougher than I thought.

A lot tougher.

Click here for part 2 of this epic Street Pass saga.


  • When I was building up my PS2 collection and didn’t have any other commitments, I once raided the following stores in one day;

    Parramatta: Both JB Hifis, EB Games, GAME and Cash Converters
    Rhodes: EB Games (and IKEA for some shelves)
    Burwood: EB Games and Cash Converters
    Bondi: EB Games, JB Hifi, GAME and Cash Converters
    Hurstville: EB Games and GAME

    It turned out to be a productive day full of good bargains and also ironically, a bit of some much needed exercise.

    But to bypass security screenings at the airports just for Street Pass hits?

    That indeed does seem a little, witty bit extreme….

  • When you started talking about paranoia, I laughed out loud, in the silent section of my university library…

  • accidentally be at Disneyland during Spring Break for a couple of days and you end up with over a hundred randoms.
    I’d already finished “Find Me” once ( the US don’t call it Streetpass Quest for some reason, perhaps it confuses them ) and am now part way through the 2nd run with little to no caring.
    Hats are nice…but…mmm…if randoms don’t know you don’t get that hat until you’ve finished the game its a lot less impressive.
    But its fun to have a little green light, presents for my dogs and battles in SF.

  • The ‘Do not travel between doors’ thing just means you can’t stay there, you can still pass through.

  • *spoilers*
    I’m one of the hits from tomorrow’s follow-up story.

    Would it be equally obsessive if I said I went out of my way to get a 3DS on Friday afternoon, primarily so that I would be able to trade street pass hits with Mark on Saturday? Yes? Good thing I didn’t say that then!

  • Award winning journalism at it’s finest! The lengths that Mark will go to for our entertainment! I’m not from sydney but i’ve heard just venuring into Para can get you mugged, stabbed, raped or a combo of all three called the Paramatta Special. And he did this solo whilst waving around a new and pricey pice of tech.
    Brave man, Sir Serrels. Brave man 🙂
    Can’t wait for part two…

    • Surely you can lure him away from his desk. Possibly by telling him that there’s a section of the office that he’s allowed to walk around pantless.

      Then it’s just a matter of getting on to his computer and seeing the magical words that have been written.

      Unless Mark has been lazy and hasn’t written it all yet. Then you’re just going to have to crack his skull open and poke around until you find the relevant part of the grey matter that has the thrilling conclusion.

  • It’s like achievement grinding in real life except you don’t even get a pixel badge.
    I admire your dedication to a task but…

  • the 3DS has been out for all of what … three weeks now? A month? I for one will still be using my DS for a while, at least ’till the 3DS price drops and game library grows.

    Talk about unrealistic expectations!

  • And I thought I was crazy walking around 2 different shopping centres on a recent trip to Sydney just to get Streetpass hits…

    On a related note, I saw a guy at Uni today carrying a 3DS. So, naturally, I walked a little behind him for a second hoping to get a hit… But he didn’t have StreetPass enabled! Who does that? Teasing crazy StreetPass stalkers is unacceptable.

  • So good that I heard the rough preview story from you directly at Saturday’s meet up! Looking forward to Part 2 😀

  • Completely off topic, but I laugh how whenever someone talks about their mobile phone, it’s always just referred to as ‘my phone’ or ‘my mobile’… unless it’s an iPhone (Case in point – ‘Though my crappy iPhone 3 lens’). Like people are supposed to go, ‘OMG U HAEV IPHONE?!?!?!?7’

  • Picked up my US 3DS in Japan last week at the start of my holiday. In the entire week (about 6 days) without actively searching for StreetPass hits, I got 69 hits. There were multiple trips through hectic Japanese train stations (most notable event was about 7 hits on a single journey through Shinjuku station at 8pm on a Friday), but realistically, 69 for an entire week isn’t that much at all.

    I dreaded returning to Australia, my standards set a little high. I don’t use public transport here, and don’t spend much time in the city. I’ve resigned myself to walking 1000 steps everyday and likely doing it very slowly with the coins.

    I have however, succumbed to the sickness of putting it to sleep and carrying it with me everywhere I go. I took it out to the letterbox this morning.

    I can understand your sickness, my friend.

  • Ahahaha, love the dedication. Heard about this quest of yours, looking forward to the THRILLING CONCLUSION!

    Also rats, I totally went to Parra that day to make good on JB’s sale, you were just there way too early for me to find you though.

  • When you’re on the trains, get up close to the dead end of the guards cab. I’m a train guard, always carry mine with me and i know several others who have started doing so as well.

  • You saw my Tweet Mark. Melbourne Airport, 3 days in Sydney CBD, two lunches at @259 (got the number right didn’t I?), walk from Carrington St to Pyrmont/Ultimo border. Back to Sydney Airport for a 4 hour wait before my flight…. 1 STREET PASS HIT!

    My failures were:

    Flying Qantas…. cos anyone who pays those prices can’t afford a 3DS! It’s all iPads in that terminal

    Being as good looking as I am, people walk around/away from you… It is StreetPASS not Street’HOLY CRAP HE’S SCARY LOOKING, GO THE OTHER WAY!’

  • Cool article. Tangentially related – I’ve gone out of my own way a few times now to visit various game stores just to get a LOOK at a 3DS in the flesh, er plastic, and check out the glasses-free 3D…and NONE of them have one on display!? what is that about? Am I the only person who still hasn’t seen one?! I’ve been to Game stores and EBs and JBs and others, and they all have big signs, including the ones with the nintendo marketing line “You need to see it to believe it”, and none of them have one AVAILABLE to see to believe. Do I have you buy one to see it to believe it to want to buy it? What the hell man hah I even went on launch day and nada. What kind of store WOULDN’T keep one on hand to show off? Why would NOA not make sure that at least one store in each massive shopping centre like Chadstone would have one to demo? I know they had that ludicrous travelling one that went from shopping centre to shopping centre just before release, but I figured once it was in shops I’d be able to check one out

  • I can relate to this story quite well – minus the trips to Sydney Airport 😛

    I always make sure to turn on my 3DS as soon as I leave my home, even though I live in Fairfield and don’t get a hit until I get off at Central or Town Hall somewhere. And then from there on, it’s constant checking each time I sit down somewhere. Some days are good – I may get 8 hits. Other days I’ll be out and about, everywhere in the city, and then only get like..1.

  • hey you were in Parra but didn’t visit my eb? i totes have a 3ds and im streetpass crazy!! I got 7 on that saturday btw.

    • Oh, I might have picked you up then. Possibly. Actually come to think of it now I’m not sure I’ve gotten anything from EB Parramatta, I know I’ve got one of the guys in Game twice now, and I usually get something in the food court on the way to JB…

      Checking my Plaza now, it seems I do have an adrian there in the first couple of rows, purple shirt round eyes and big smile. Have you got an orange-shirted Gooky?

  • Mark, you should have come to Game Campbelltown Mall and Macarthur Sq. I went between the two of them and got 12hits in a matter of minutes. Plus, you really only need to be within about 15m of a person…not breathing down their neck. I street passed from about that distance, but maybe it was because I had already met them?

  • I got 12 in one day. I went to one of Nintendo’s 3DS showings of the device here in downtown Chicago that went from about a month before it came out to about a week after it launched. I walked past the units and most of the people working the stands had set up their own Miis in the system. Imagine my excitement when I pulled it out and had 10 hits all at once!

    I’ve got about 20 so far now….. I think I’m going to go to the Anime fest and the Wizard comic convention next month in Chicago and get some more…..hopefully.

  • Oh man, it’s trippy seeing someone go through the same local Westfields, JB Hi-fi, Game and Game Traders as I do.

    I should’ve brought my 3DS out when I went today.

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