It’s been three years since the release of Tomodachi Life, Nintendo’s bizarre life simulation game featuring the company’s customizable Mii avatars. Miis haven’t been in the spotlight ever since Miitomo, Nintendo’s first mobile app. Miitopia not only brings Miis back into the spotlight, but also blends the gameplay from Tomodachi Life with a world similar to one you would find in a traditional RPG. While the mix may be hard to get your head around at first, it won’t be long until you find yourself wrapped up in watching your Mii defeat monsters while growing closer to their companions in this RPG world.
The peaceful land of Miitopia faces peril when the Dark Lord appears and begins stealing everyone’s faces, giving them away to monsters. It’s up to the player to lead a team of up to four Miis and restore these lost faces. What makes the story of Miitopia so entertaining is its randomly chosen cast. While the game will ask players to select a Mii to play major roles as characters are introduced, Miitopia draws from a large pool of user created Miis to fill its supporting cast. This can result in some hilarious moments such as running into a wandering Burger King mascot or Nintendo officials like Miyamoto or Reggie Fils-Aimé. It also helps that the game has excellent writing, never taking itself too seriously and it also features a lot of the humour found in Tomodachi Life and Miitomo. It is unfortunate though that unlike those titles, Miitopia doesn’t feature the same text-to-speech function.
Similar to Tomodachi Life, Miitopia is, for the most part, a simulation game. This means that while players can perform actions to influence the gameplay, the majority of player’s time with the game is spent watching the Miis handle the main actions. When selecting a playable Mii character, players can decide on their personality from six available options. At the same time, players can choose from six initial classes such as warrior, mage, etc.
Exploration in Miitopia is the game’s weakest point. After beginning their quest, players decide where they want their Mii to go via a map screen where each area is treated like a stage. Once chosen, players watch their Mii traverse from one end to the other. While there are random battle encounters along with some brief interactions between Miis to break things up, none of it is really enough to keep the boredom from slowly setting in. You can also hold the B button to speed things up, which does help to ease the waiting—but not entirely. By the game’s third chapter, I found myself skipping certain areas on the map and only doing the ones that would allow me to progress through the story.
At the end of each area in Miitopia, the Miis will rest at an inn. This is mainly where players will prepare their Miis for the upcoming battles in a few different ways. Players can feed their Miis different foods that they collect to help increase their stats. How much the Mii enjoys their meal determines how much of a boost they gain. The inn is also where players can give their Miis money to buy things they want, such as new equipment or healing items. By using arcade tickets found throughout the game world, players can play two mini games to earn extra money or items.
Another feature of the inn deals with one of the most important mechanics in Miitopia. Players are able to choose who bunks together that night, which allows the Miis to grow closer to each other. As the Miis become more familiar, they can unlock new abilities such as being able to warn the other about incoming attacks or deal more damage in an attempt to show off. There are also a few ways to increase a Mii’s bond with another Mii during battle by performing acts like healing them. However, these bonds can also have negative effects. Miis can get into quarrels with each other, which can distract them when attacking or even cause them to interfere with each other.
Battles are more of a hit-or-miss segment in its gameplay. When a battle is initiated in Miitopia, players are able to decide the action of the Mii they started out with. There’s the option to attack, use class-specific special abilities, or eat a snack to replenish HP or MP. Miis fight in accordance with the class that they were given. Warriors will mostly attack, but also have skills that can defend party members, whereas clerics will mostly heal their team or revive fallen Miis. An interesting feature in Miitopia’s battle system is in its personality quirks. At random times during battles, Miis will display their chosen personality in a variety of ways which can help or hinder them. A stubborn Mii might refuse the offer to be healed by their ally while a cool Mii can pull off a last second dodge during an incoming enemy attack. This feature helps to further make your party feel unique while also tying in perfectly with bonding mechanic within Miitopia. It can also be used to help further boost the strengths of specific classes in the game when planned right during the initial character creation.
Not long after starting, players will also unlock the “Sprinkle” and “Safe Spot” options. In-between actions, the player is able to sprinkle a limited amount of dust that can restore health or magic to their Mii. The player can also pull one Mii out of the battle temporarily in order to recover from status effects while healing as the others fight. I enjoyed these features because it allowed to play a more supportive role to my Miis as they fought. The only problem was that there were so few times that it was necessary. At most, I would only run into two or three fights before my Miis looked like they could use my help, but by then they would reach the inn. For this reason, I found myself looking more forward to boss fights where I would actually get the chance to use them.
The biggest problem that Miitopia faces is repetition. By the end of the first chapter, it feels as though the game is complete. The travelling Miis will likely have grown close to each other and gotten pretty powerful in their respective jobs. While it feels like the game is ending, certain events take place so that the party is separated and the main Mii’s powers are stripped away and the Mii is forced to form a new party and select another class with new additions. The game essentially resets in a new environment. This was interesting at first—until the next chapter when it happened all over again.
While the game isn’t terribly long, having to forge the same bond levels over and over again becomes a chore. As charming as everything in Miitopia is, there aren’t enough new elements to carry it for the length of the game. Despite this, I do think Miitopia is worth playing, so long as you bear in mind that it is a simulation with more of an RPG backdrop.