As usual I'm starting off the new year focusing on games that I'm actually taking the effort to get through, so in the meantime here's a quick post about the free-to-start title Nintendo Badge Arcade on 3DS, a crane game simulation that lets you earn "badges" to decorate your 3DS's home screen with. I'd been jealous of people in Japan, since they've had the game for ages before NA and Europe, so I was psyched when it was finally released. I've been playing it daily since it was released a couple of months ago, and it soon became apparent that there's no way you could be a completionist without spending a lot of real money.

The game is definitely skewed toward you spending money, but overall it feels more or less fair, especially considering that 3DS themes cost $2 each. You can earn a free play every day or so by playing the "practice catchers", and they give out free plays fairly regularly as well. These free plays won't get you that far, though, since the game purposely puts the most desirable badges underneath other badges, requiring you to have at least 3 or 4 plays (and often a decent amount of luck) to get them. But if you have the mindset of the game being about nabbing some nice art for your home screen and just reserving your paid plays for badges you really want (in my case, $3 of real money so far), then you won't be too frustrated.

There's a nice variety in the badges, and all your favorite Nintendo characters and series are well represented (although no Fire Emblem badges yet, sadly). The game also often offers a basic theme (no music or sound effects) specifically designed to accompany badges as a bonus if you buy $2 worth of plays. The presentation is colorful and also pretty laid back with no pressure to spend real money, and the pink rabbit mascot is a nice addition to the roster of Nintendo characters. It would be nice if the badge sets cycled through a bit more regularly (there are some sets that seem to show up a lot and others that I've only seen once so far), but considering the sheer number of badge sets that's not too surprising. In any case, this was a nice free-to-start title and, while not super generous in free plays, seems fair and I'm happy to spend more real money on it in the future.

Catch some Nintendo Badge Arcade links:
- Official site
- Screenshots of someone who got every single Japanese badge (and probably spent a ton doing so!), including a pic of the highest trophy you can earn
- That same guy also posted some tips on Reddit

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