The Nintendo Zone is a Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection point that is featured in select areas. It is now available in the US in certain Nintendo Zones, such as Starbucks. The major provider of this service is McDonalds in Kanto, Chukyo, and Kansai, all in Japan. With the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo 3DS, it will immediately detect when you come into range of a Nintendo Zone, though if you are using your Nintendo DS or DS Lite you will only be able to upload the service temporarily.
Recently an American trademark for Nintendo Zone popped up, suggesting that soon gamers in the states will be able to download exclusive content from select locations, surf online and play with friends across the globe. Nintendo Zone can be downloaded on the Nintendo 3DS and can be used in areas such as McDonalds or Best Buy. While the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection point can currently be accessed by any DS user, specific Nintendo Zone content is available at some locations. The Nintendo Zone application does not work for a Nintendo DSi or a Nintendo DSi XL.
Nintendo Zones and Streetpass
The introduction of Nintendo Zones enables Nintendo 3DS owners to experience a unique StreetPass encounter. An active Nintendo Zone can retain the StreetPass data of the last six 3DS's that have interacted with it, although various factors can reduce that number. When the next StreetPass capable 3DS interfaces with the Nintendo Zone, it will receive that data as if it had individually StreetPassed those individuals. This resource allows individuals who live in more rural locations, or who have difficulty gathering StreetPass encounters a more reliable option.
Typically, the Nintendo Zone will behave like another 3DS, and will only interact with a gamer's 3DS once every several hours. However, if an individual at a Nintendo Zone StreetPasses with it, and then welcomes the new Zone's tracked Mii's at its plaza gate, there is a rare chance that the Nintendo Zone will immediately interact with the 3DS again, and possibly even a third and fourth time as long as the Mii's are moved through the gate.
This is, however, not beneficial to the Zone or to other players. Any given Nintendo Zone will hold up to six instances of data. When a seventh 3DS interacts, their data replaces that of the least recent 3DS. If that same 3DS interacts with the Zone again, before their previous data has been cycled out, the Zone will add their data in once again. The result is that the six available spaces only have five Mii's. Continuous StreetPassing over a short time can ultimately result in there being only one Mii at a Zone, undermining the StreetPass experience for others.
At various times, for any number of unknown reasons, a Nintendo Zone may cease StreetPass service for any given amount of time. This may apply to a specific location, or to an entire chain of locations within a region. Some Nintendo Zones may have irregular StreetPass service as well. This can make verifying the validity of a newly-visited Zone difficult, as there is no way of knowing whether the zone is temporarily or permanently out of service.
Nintendo Zone Locations and Locator
Currently in the US and Canada, Nintendo Zones are available at most locations that offer free AT&T Wifi. They are most commonly located within the stores of certain major commercial chains, such as McDonald's, Starbucks, The Home Depot, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and so forth.
On Nintendo's official Nintendo Zone site, gamers can enter a ZIP code to find Zones nearby. However, the locator is not entirely accurate, as it may suggest locations that are either inactive, businesses that are not open to the public, or chain locations that have either moved, closed, or are simply the wrong address. As such, individuals who wish to visit Nintendo Zones would be wise to perform secondary levels of investigation before traveling.