Miitopia review for Nintendo 3DS

Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: Spotpass/Miiverse

We’ve had our fun with Miis ever since Nintendo introduced them way back in 2006 on the Wii. They’ve been our virtual buddies, Streetpass ambassadors, and even goofed around in Tomodachi Life. This time, it’s their turn to do a little adventuring.

Nintendo says this is a journey of your Mii characters and friends, but I found that letting the game draw from community designs just littered the Mii Kingdom with all kinds of pop culture references I didn’t care for. You can change this in the settings if you’re like me and want a little more control. Now it’s a game about my friends and favorite people, much better!

So here’s the story, which you may already know of if you checked out the eShop “Casting Call” demo. There’s a Dark Lord who appears form nowhere and begins sealing Mii faces from people throughout the land! Since everyone looks even uglier without a face, someone has to stop this guy. And to add insult to injury, he’s putting those faces on monsters who only live to wreck up the place.

This is where you come in, as you manage to save your face (no pun intended) and gather a party to restore peace to the land. Soon after your first encounter with the Dark Lord, you’ll find that there’s some love triangle going on in the royal kingdom between the princess and two noble suitors. The fat king has an eating problem and can’t be bothered to sort things out, so you get to take care of this problem as well. And good luck getting out of it, you already proved yourself worthy by restoring several important faces by this time.

That’s the life of a hero. Time to set off and see what this adventure has in store!

Once Miitopia settles into its routine, it becomes just that. While most games and even RPGs try to mix things up, the gameplay in Miitopia is very laid back and transparent about its pacing.

Believe it or not, Nintendo sent out physical copies of these releases, and that doesn’t happen often these days. Everything is usually digital. I bring this up because as I was admiring the box art for Miitopia, I noticed on the back there is a clear and unmistakable flow chart which shows exactly how the game is structured! This strikes me as a new development in game box art from Nintendo, since we got to look at Hey! Pikmin and it has a similar gameplay diagram on the back.

In any case, you explore an overworld similar to Mario games where each location can be explored. Many have multiple paths, but will eventually end with your party discovering an Inn and resting. Exploring these areas consists of watching your party walk until they enter a battle scene. From here, you input commands to duke it out with creatures like a typical RPG, but the battles are kind of a cakewalk. This is fine due to the game’s nature, but in my experience this lead to using the Autobattle function throughout almost the entire game with very little at stake.

By the time I found my rhythm with Miitopia, it felt more like an RPG simulator than an RPG. It doesn’t seem to care too much about giving you battles that offer a challenge, because this is a game about how the wacky personalities of your characters fit in to the generic RPG plot they take part in.

Miitopia won’t surprise anyone who’s had some experience with previous Mii games. It’s more focused on character interaction than sticking to a genre. Just for instance, I chose the air headed personality for y main character because I’m kind of an airhead, and his job is a chef since I’ve made a sandwich a couple times.

Later on in battles, characters develop quirks and abilities based on their personality and job, and I admit that I laughed out loud several times due to this. The first time my character’s airheadedness really came across was when his turn came up, but instead he was playing with one of the enemies, just dancing around!

I really like this stuff, as it reminds me of games like Earthbound where the battles are taken lightly at times. Characters will show off for each other, or warm up instead of attacking, and even tend to each other after taking a blow. Hell, I still get caught off guard when my chef runs out with his frying pan and his airheadedness causes him to attack a different character for a slightly higher amount of damage. I love this amount of character, it’s out of balance with a game that refuses to be creative in gameplay.

The party dialog also takes pages from the silly surprises throughout Tomodachi Life. I feel that this is what makes Miis most appealing, since it’s always entertaining to see how emotional they get about things. Their relationships will always be in flux, and you’ll be chuckling throughout at little twists. I never get tired of watching one character give a gift, only to have the scene reveal that another party member saw I tall and is devastated from jealousy! The writers did a great job of keeping things upbeat and playing characters off each other.

My main complaints with Miitopia go back to the feeling that it doesn’t seem to care if it’s an RPG or not. I don’t even care. I wish I did, though, because it can get boring pretty quickly. The game even asks at what feel like 20-minute intervals if you’re done playing. Does Nintendo know I was ready to move onto something else?

Outside of the charm of watching your party interact with each other in battles, there’s nothing really special about Miitopia. Not even the music or look of it. It actually makes me want to go back to Tomodachi Life, as that game seemed to know more about its identity than Miitopia. Both do make me laugh, but I like a game that’s designed to be a simulation instead of Miitopia’s RPG elements that feel a touch too light to make playing it feel that appealing.

There’s a demo on the eShop if you’re curious. I say check it out!

Grade: C+