Have you ever wondered what it would be like if your Mii characters became heroes? Sure, StreetPass Quest let you set out on an adventure to rescue a kidnapped Mii character by recruiting those that you wandered past, but the StreetPass Mii Plaza game was shallow beyond Nintendo presenting a mechanism to reward us with free hats.
Given that Mii characters have been part of our lives since the Wii, it is perhaps surprising, then, that Nintendo hasn’t found more ways to let the customisable characters chase more prominent stardom. They have, of course, appeared as playable characters in games such as Wii Sports, Nintendo Land, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but it wasn’t until the kooky Tomodachi Life that they were truly let loose on the world.
Now they’re back in Miitopia, a rib-ticklingly hilarious RPG in which a Mii is cast as every character. The ingenious part is that while minor characters such as townspeople are automatically assigned from an accumulated Mii catalogue, players are free to cast any Mii characters in the starring roles however they please.
Whether that be creating a party full of fearless Nintendo execs, casting your best friend as the courageous hero, a girlfriend as the Princess or a mean-spirited parent as the evil Dark Lord, this helps to make the quest in Miitopia feel all the more personal.
The chance to cast characters will come at key moments in the game, whether that be when you march into a new region or are about to be introduced to new characters in the story. If for whatever reason these need to be changed, then it’s worth mentioning that you are free to switch your cast members around at any time.
Miitopia lets you pluck your Mii characters in different ways, whether that be creating a Mii from scratch, scanning a QR Code, or selecting a Mii from Mii Central, Mii Maker or Tomodachi Life. For those wondering, Mii Central is a service that will let you browse Mii characters that have been created by other users and sent over SpotPass, and, at the moment, is packed with creations base on Mr. Bean, Professor Layton, Waluigi and Link, among others. As you play, a questionnaire will pop up from time to time that asks which of these are the best creations, helping to choose which are distributed to players.
Those methods are simple enough, leaving you with a chance to ponder the wider decision over which Mii to cast in a particular role. However, it is the connection with Tomodachi Life that can perhaps result in a more meaningful experience. Personalities once again come into play, determining how a Mii will interact with other characters and influence their behaviour in battle. And, for those that played the quirky Nintendo 3DS exclusive, these will carry over for any Mii characters that joined you on your island paradise.
It’s to be expected, but Miitopia is streamlined to be far more accessible than a typical RPG. The player’s party simply energetically dashing between points on a world map, that each designate areas that they can choose to explore.
These steadily unlock one after another, but, once one is chosen, will see your party meander along a preset path on which they may encounter monsters, treasure chests, and other surprises that are sprung on you. Those that want to endure lengthier play sessions will soon realise the simplistic pattern to these routes, that, early on, can soon clamp down on the breadth of the gameplay experience. There are clear attempts to encourage your exploration such as forks in the road that present multiple paths and secret routes that levers will uncover, but repetition is the first crack that Miitopia‘s armour shows.
Thankfully, the personality that it packs soon makes up for it. That can see party members trip over only for you to choose who should help them out, jealousy can emerge over newfound friendships, or the tension between the party can build in leading to quarrelsome squabbles. Whether it’s strange to say or not the interactions feel remarkably believable – as if you were actually watching a real group of friends set out on an adventure and witnessing their highs and lows as a team.
That becomes far more evident in battle instances, where, while you take direct control of your main hero’s actions, the turn-based combat sees your party members doing their best to take down the monsters that you have encountered. But it would be boring if that was all that happened, right? Nintendo smothers these battles with personality, your party members doing their best to outdo one another, butting in to steal another character’s limelight, shouting at anyone that’s daydreaming when an attack’s headed their way, and cheering each other on to perform more devastating attacks.
Your actual input may be limited to your main hero character performing standard or special attacks, but it’s a laugh out loud spectacle to watch these unfold every time. There are also some neat ideas that Nintendo has thrown in such as limited-use Sprinkles that can restore HP, MP or revive fallen comrades, but, more so, the Safe Spot, an area where you can hurl a Mii character that has been affected with a status condition – whether that be balling their eyes out at a cute monster, or something more sinister.
Toppling your enemies will reward your party with experience that, over time, will see their levels increase. That will strengthen their stats and, more importantly, see them learn new skills that can help turn tougher battles in your favour. That being said, I never encountered a battle where more than one of my party fell, so most will be able to see Miitopia through to conclusion without that much difficulty.
Your party’s behaviour towards one another ties in with the bond level, which can be influenced more directly at the Inns that await you once a route is completed. Here, your party will rest up to recover, and the rooms that you place them in will determine whether they interact with another party member. Once their bond level increases, they will soon have access to assist moves that can see them show concern for each other in battle, lend a hand to power up attacks, or step in to prevent each other from taking damage.
Inns also present a chance to give gathered gold to a party member so that they can set out on a shopping spree to buy a new weapon, armour or recovery item, watch interactions between your Mii characters such as them surprising each other with presents, or feed your party food that can permanently boost their stats – although, some meals they will nervously shake their heads at when they know that they dislike the taste. This steady party growth is an aspect that Miitopia handles well, and a gameplay loop that constantly had me hooked in suiting up each character with the best gear.
amiibo are supported and can be scanned to unlock special outfits for your Mii characters to wear. The designs that you can unlock are variable in quality, but my larger concern was that they are all far weaker than the armour that you will receive in-game. That means that choosing to dress your party up will make Miitopia a far more challenging experience, although it must be said that some will welcome that given the game’s relative ease.
Miitopia will win you over with laughter, but not in the same baffling ways as Tomodachi Life once did. There’s little chance that you will play a wackier game this year, but Miitopia‘s undoing lies in how quickly repetition sets in. Quirky but lacking depth, there’s untapped potential for a grander adventure if Nintendo choose to revisit the idea.