The Nintendo 3DS sports plenty of new features, but one that we haven't heard much about involves some virtual currency called — in Japan, at least — Game Coins. What are Game Coins, you ask? My first blind guess involved Nintendo's stab at PlayStation Trophies or Xbox Achievements, but according to Tiny Cartridge, Game Coins are more of a take on Ubisoft's Uplay system. Game Coins earned while using the 3DS can be used to unlock special features and other bonuses in supported 3DS games. The coins are not necessarily earned by completing specific objectives in games, however. So how do you earn them? Shove your 3DS in your pocket and start walking.
Game Coins (as far as I can tell from translating) are a system-wide currency designed to unlock features/items in supported games. Players acquire Game Coins by walking around with the 3DS — the system tracks steps like a pedometer, and then translates some number of steps into a Game Coin. So it’s like the PokeWalker, but for everything.
There is a catch, though, and it’s “supported games.” Remember how many third-party Wii games actually had Mii support? So, expect this to be used with a few Nintendo games and maaaaaaybe a Sega game occasionally. Right now, no Game Coin use has been announced for anything.
Seeing as how this is built into the hardware, I hope that Game Coins have a well-supported and long life. Otherwise we're stuck with a dead feature taking up valuable screen real estate and. Think back to the original Nintendo DS's prime placement of Pictochat on the system menu, for instance. When was the last time you used Pictochat? The first day you owned a DS? Maybe one other time to show it off to bemused friends? Nevertheless, it hangs around on the menu like a weed that has taken root in the garden. Imagine earning the maximum 999 Game Coins one is allowed to have at once and not being able to spend them on anything. Thankfully, Game Coins sound like too neat a concept to go unused.