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Nintendo Letter Box logo.png
The Nintendo Letter Box logo.
Developer(s)Nintendo SDD
Director(s)Daiji Imai[1]
Producer(s)Kiyoshi Mizuki,
Masaru Shimomura
Programmer(s)Satoshi Takenouchi[1]
Artist(s)Motomasa Kondo,
Yu Kitai[1]
Composer(s)Daisuke Shiiba,
Kenji Yamamoto
Platform(s)Nintendo 3DS family
  • JP: December 21, 2011
  • PAL: December 22, 2011
  • NA: December 22, 2011

Swapnote, known as Nintendo Letter Box in PAL regions and Itsu no Ma ni Kōkan Nikki (いつの間に交換日記, lit. "Unnoticed Exchange Diary") in Japan, is a messaging application for the Nintendo 3DS family. Swapnote was released on December 21, 2011 in Japan and December 22, 2011 in Europe, Australia and North America via the Nintendo eShop. It can be downloaded at no additional cost and is pre-installed on newer systems. Swapnote is the successor to the PictoChat app for the Nintendo DS line.

In November 2016, Nintendo released a spiritual successor called Swapdoodle.


Swapnote allows users to send hand-written/drawn messages to registered friends via SpotPass either or other users via StreetPass.[2] The app also allows users to freely embed pictures and sounds into their messages, and it also lets users change the position and the orientation of the picture and sound icons. Features are unlocked as players continue to send letters, such as the ability to hand-write/draw 3D messages, with additional stationery and features unlocked by spending Play Coins. Messages sent and received can also be saved indefinitely, in spite of the 3000 message limit. Additional stationery can be obtained via certain Nintendo related events, such as using specific software, or by saving them from other people's messages.


On July 5, 2012, Nintendo updated the Swapnote application to feature six different colors of ink, with only one color being available per message.[3] On April 11, 2013, Nintendo updated Swapnote yet again, this time bringing even more new features, including the ability to take photos or record audio directly through the application, as well as the ability to undo drawings, and use different colors on each page of a message.[4]

Discontinuation of SpotPass functions[edit]

On October 31, 2013, Nintendo abruptly suspended the Swapnote/Nintendo Letter Box SpotPass functionality presumably after an incident in Japan where minors were sharing Friend Codes with strangers who had exploited the messaging service to allegedly exchange pornographic imagery.[5][6] Additionally, the Special Notes service, which were also sent via SpotPass to promote Nintendo games, has also been suspended. Nintendo issued an apology to those who had been using the application in a responsible manner.[7][8] This consequently also suspended the Flipnote Gallery: Friends function for the app Flipnote Studio 3D on the same day.


A unique, female Mii character known simply as Nikki acts as the software's hostess and mascot. By standard, Nikki is featured in the tutorial messages that appear when users start-up and use the app overtime. Prior to the SpotPass suspension, several Special Notifications sent from Nintendo based on special occasions featured Nikki announcing such occasions, such as Valentine's Day, and these notification messages often came with new non-game-based stationary and AR pictures of Nikki. Nikki's official Mii would also automatically appear in the StreetPass Mii Plaza when these messages were opened. Nikki's name is based on the app's Japanese title, which features the term nikki (日記), which literally means "diary" in Japanese. As a character, however, Nikki's Japanese name is written in Kana characters (ニッキー) instead of Kanji.

Due to the character's popularity, Nintendo had released another Nintendo 3DS app featuring Nikki called Nikki's Travel Quiz (ニッキーの旅するクイズ), although the app was exclusively available to members of the Japanese Club Nintendo rewards program.[9] After the discontinuation of Club Nintendo in Japan on September 30, 2015, the app is no longer redeemable. A Nintendo 3DS HOME Menu theme based on Swapnote called "Swapnote: Nikki and Friends" was released in Japan and North America. Nikki badges would occasionally become available in the Nintendo Badge Arcade app for Nintendo 3DS as part of the "Nikki & Friends" set. The app's host, Arcade Bunny, often expresses his infatuation towards Nikki. Nintendo of America originally used Nikki's physical appearance as a Mii Fighter to market Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U. Nikki is included in the Wii U version of Super Mario Maker as an unlockable "8-bit" costume. Nikki returns as a host in the Swapnote spiritual successor, Swapdoodle. Nikki appears as an assist trophy in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.


Swapdoodle, the sequel to Swapnote, was released as a free-to-start downloadable title in North America and Europe on November 17, 2016. The series retains several features from the original Swapnote, with the exception of photo and sound attachments, while adding new features including Doodle Lessons, stamps, secret pages. The application can be expanded with purchasable downloadable content, which adds new pen colors, stationary, note capacity and lessons.[10]


Despite being a successor to PictoChat, Swapnote's messaging model is not based on the standard instant messaging model as PictoChat has always been, as the application lacks in instant messaging features such as keyboard functionality, chat rooms, and live-continuous messaging.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d "Swapnote". Iwata Asks. Nintendo. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  2. ^ Wahlgren, Jon (2011-10-21). "Kid Icarus, Kirby Getting 3D Classics Makeovers". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
  3. ^ "Swapnote Updated to Feature Additional Colors - News". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  4. ^ JC Fletcher on Apr 11th 2013 5:45PM (2013-04-11). "Swapnote update adds photo, filtering features". Joystiq. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  5. ^ "Accused Child Predator Allegedly Used Nintendo's Swapnote Service". Kotaku. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  6. ^ "わいせつ画像:ゲーム機で送信させる 女児被害、容疑者を書類送検 /茨城" (in Japanese). Mainichi Shimbun. 2013-11-06. Archived from the original on 2013-11-08. Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  7. ^ Notice about service for Nintendo 3DS software Swapnote. Nintendo.com (2013-11-1). Retrieved on 2013-11-1.
  8. ^ Andrew Brown on Oct. 31, 2013 5:45PM (2013-10-13). "Swapnote, Flipnote 3D Discontinued". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  9. ^ Nakamura, Darren (2015-01-21). "Swapnote's Nikki to return in Nikki's Travel Quiz". Destructoid. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
  10. ^ "Nintendo reveals Swapdoodle, out today on the 3DS eShop - Nintendo Everything". 17 November 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  11. ^ Swapnote bringing messaging to the 3DS – The Tanooki. Thetanooki.com (2011-10-23). Retrieved on 2013-08-23.