Hitting the eShop today, we thought we ought to share that you can now download the application for free from the Nintendo eShop, by clicking on the Mario & Sonic Virtual Card Album option on the menu – or by searching for it in the box at the top of the screen if you can't see it, before following the on-screen prompts to download it to your 3DS. When you first launch it from your 3DS' Home Menu, you'll be asked about whether you want to enable StreetPass, where you'll exchange cards with random people you walk past, and SpotPass, where cards will be automatically downloaded to your 3DS every so often while it's connected to the internet – you'll want to turn both of these options on if you want to get the most out of the Mario & Sonic – London 2012 Virtual Card Album.
Upon first starting the application, you'll get a Starter Pack of five cards to set you off - our sample of two different 3DS systems suggests that everyone starts with three of the same cards, No. 1: On your marks, Get set, Go!, No. 31: It's a Photo Finish and No. 41: Mario, plus two randomly selected ones. After admiring your cards, you can click on the 'Menu' option in the top right corner to augment your collection by buying some extra cards with your Play Coins (the 3DS' built in currency that rewards you for walking up to a thousand steps using the 3DS's built in pedometer), choosing from a selection of twenty eight of the over 70 cards available. There's also the option to connect to a Nintendo Zone – special internet hotspots that are available from places like your local Wetherspoons – to download exclusive cards - and seemingly, you'll have to make use of Streetpass, Spotpass, Play Coins, and the Nintendo Zone if you want to collect them all.
Bar buying cards with Play Coins or heading striaght out to your local Nintendo Zone, though, there's not a lot you can do with the Virtual Card Album as of yet – except sit tight and wait for the SpotPass cards and StreetPass hits to start rolling in. Just be sure to pack your 3DS in your bag/pocket/shoe before you go out anywhere if you want to be in with a shot at completing the collection, especially as the virtual cards will stop being distributed on the 9th of September - a couple of weeks after the real Olympic Games officially finish.