First Impressions: Miitopia

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Shigeru Miyamoto’s singing is a punishment no mortal man should be forced to sit through.

I’ll admit something, I’ve never been a fan of Nintendo’s “Miis”. For over three console generations, Nintendo has tried to push these customize-able avatars onto its audience. This on its own isn’t bad, but Nintendo kept trying to make these paper-doll characters a household name. They were in several games, including ones where they were just guest stars.

Now, I don’t think the Miis are a bad idea in practice. The problem was that for the longest time Nintendo didn’t really know what to do with said characters. The thing about Miis is that while they were in a lot of good games, their appearance never enhanced the feel or enjoyment of the game. That’s because these were paper-doll characters, generic templates that are hard to project on to.

Now, this is a common practice with a lot of games. Several games will let you make your own character and adventure as your chosen avatar. What makes Miis different is that Nintendo wanted these to be a franchise, they wanted to sell their template characters in games that only managed to show how generic of an idea it was.

This all changed with the release of Tomodachi Life though. Tomodachi Life was unique, and changed up the concept of Miis quite a bit. Nintendo focused on showing the weirder and more bizarre side of these characters. The game was a life simulator, one that focused on putting the custom characters of the player in bizarre and random situations.

This focus on weirdness and all around oddness became a selling point for the game. Unlike previous games such as Wii Music and Wii Party, Nintendo managed to take a boring concept and morph it into something enjoyable. A lot of people really dug the game, so Nintendo kept this going. Nintendo brought us Miitomo a little while later, which was a conversation app that utilized Miis. For a little phone app, it was decent, though nothing groundbreaking.

However, we would get the next big Mii game in 2017. This game was Miitopia, a JRPG for the Nintendo 3DS. Now, I haven’t played the full game yet. I was curious about this game enough to play the game, though. So, what do I think of the game thus far? Well, it’s a pretty darn fun game! Miitopia is pretty unique in that it lets you cast various Miis in the roles of the game’s cast.

These Miis could belong to you, or you can choose from a pool of Miis made online. I used the only Mii I had made as my hero, and cast the rest using “Mii Central”. This lead to some rather bizarre results, I must admit. For example, my village was populated with a ton of fictional characters: Brock from Pokemon, Hercule and Android 17 from Dragon Ball, Heath Ledger’s Joker from the Batman movies, and Batman himself as the mayor!

This game is like crossover city! While villagers and certain random NPCs are cast as miscellaneous Miis, you are free to cast whoever you want in most of the major roles. This lead to a lot of craziness, as I found myself casting random fictional characters as the primary cast. The villain was Skeletor, the Great Sage was Segata Sanshiro, and one of my party members was Spiderman!

And the story actually had a pretty solid setup and unique scenario. What happened was that the “Dark Lord” came down, stole everybody’s faces, and put them on monsters. So, it’s now up to you to get everyone’s faces back. The world being infested by custom characters is really a unique idea. It’s a ton of fun, and the crux of what makes the game so entertaining. Seeing all these characters, both real and fictional interact is a ton of fun!

The combat is pretty simple, in that you only control your own hero in combat. All of your other party members are computer controlled, and often act depending upon their selected personality. Different personality types work better with different classes, so mixing and matching is always fun in this game!

The primary problem I had with the game was its simplicity. There’s not a whole lot to the gameplay, even if a bit of it does involve strategy. However, the game itself managed to avoid being repetitive. This is due to party member taking completely random actions in combat.

This could involve them helping or hindering certain party members, or even not getting along with other characters. This makes these paper-doll characters feel 3-dimensional and also allows for some unique scenarios to play out. Battles feel more like legitimate fights than most RPGs, taking the sometimes random nature of D&D and mixing it with Final Fantasy.

It’s nothing new or revolutionary, but it’s refreshing enough to feel like its own thing. Another thing I liked about this game was its surprisingly epic soundtrack. I wasn’t expecting such an amazing soundtrack out of a Mii game, but this game was full of sweet tunes! It had rock music, Japanese sounding music, music that sounded like it was sung by a choir, and even some genres which I didn’t really recognize.

From the demo alone, I have to say this game is definitely solid and entertaining. Sure, it’s simple and is pretty easy at times, but its unique character creation and customization opens make it really unique. I’m definitely going to buy the physical game and give it more in-depth review. I think this game will mostly attract a niche audience, but I think the more hard-core audience probably won’t play much of it.

It’s obviously meant for the casual crowd, though I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. This isn’t a game that’s going to change the way people look at RPGs, but it’s something that definitely stands out as both unique and interesting. It’s a fun little time-waster meant to be played in short-bursts, which is something I truly appreciate.

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