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Monday, November 4, 2013

Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Swapnote

By RAWKHAWK2010 - Nintendo: "Because you can't have both!"

Ah, Swapnote.

As some of you may remember, we early Nintendo 3DS owners endured a very dark and desolate age. An age where we were taunted by this new-age hocus-pocus of having an always/mostly-online Nintendo system with a legitimate friends list. A friends list that could hold up to 100 dudes! A friends list where you could see what your friends were actually doing!

...But with no way to actually do anything with them. No messaging system, no Miiverse, not even games.

...Okay, true, there were a few online games at launch like Capcom's ramshackle shit port of the latest Street Fighter, but the first online game anyone actually cared about was Mario Kart 7 and that came out a year and a half after the system itself! And I think I speak for most of us when I say Mario Kart isn't worth playing except in dire circumstances (like when you're on the toilet or the deathbed), and by "most of us" I mean "all of us except fellow KoopaTV guest-employee YoshiRider123" who plays it every night for some reason. He plays it so often that my game thinks his name is Karla and that he's my girlfriend. Weird.

Anyway, the point is that for many, many months the 3DS offered no way for you to interact with your various friends on a regular basis. That is, until, Swapnote.

Swapnote Nikki Nintendo 3DS
Swapnote in its innocent, humble beginnings.

Swapnote, released in December 2011, was not your grandmother's messaging service. Except it was. Because rather than have you boringly type out your messages with cookie-cutter text, Swapnote actually had you write out your messages — just like the old days. Your own distinct handwriting (and thus your personality) would shine through in every 'note, making for quite the personal experience.

As voluminously seen (and heard) above, you could also attach pictures and sounds to your notes, allowing you to basically record elements of your day-to-day life and broadcast them to your friends. (This is how I kept everyone updated on the "Streetpass Rapist" roaming the halls of Auburn University (and my attempts to catch him red-handed by genderbending my Mii), among other juicy stories.) However, when you give players the option to share pictures and sounds, you're giving them the option to share pictures and sounds of, well, anything. Including stereoscopic 3D penises and whatever noises they make.

Swapnote Chrom Fire Emblem Awakening Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo's anti-penis measure: include them on the stationery itself!

For the record, I consider myself a little more refined than that of a penis-flasher. Instead I used Swapnote to share all manners of other horrifying things. And if reactions from my 3DS friends were anything to go buy, some of them would traumatize a kid far more than any boring penis. Still, the point is that too much fun was had, and last week Nintendo decided to shut it all down. (Nikki tried to warn us.)

Some say a few bad apples ruined it for everyone and that Swapnote should return but with moderation and bannings for those who "act out of line." And that'd be a reasonable thing to say if Swapnote wasn't a friends-only service with messages limited to FRIENDS. Nintendo doesn't want you seeing offensive-material against your will from random people, fine -- completely understandable. But now Nintendo doesn't even want you to see offensive material consensually. So what's next? Will there be moderators hired to monitor your playthrough of the next Zelda to make sure you don't see a Great Fairy from the wrong angle? The possibilities are depressingly endless.

(In any case, just wait until Nintendo finds out what people can do with the Wii U/3DS web browser.)

Is Nintendo destroying the appeal of its services by sacrificing liberty for nanny-state levels of security? Tell Rawk what you think at RawkHawk2010 on Miiverse before it gets shut down too! 

This article won the 2013 Most Humorous KoopaTV Article award!
What if Swapnote was shut down because it could be used for terrorists to communicate?
Nintendo has officially replaced Swapnote with... Swapdoodle, also featuring Nikki. But is it good enough?


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