Nintendo is good at finding ways to keep its Miis relevant. What started out as a personal novelty for Wii Sports has evolved into much more. With the Nintendo 3DS, Miis became a representation of ourselves for the system's street pass function, wherein we got to play a series of silly games with the Miis we met on our travels. Then Nintendo created its definitive game for the Miis, Tomadachi Life. In this game you simply lived out a fictional life with your friends. It was simple but appealed to a decent audience. Now there is Miitopia, an RPG that expresses a deeper use for Miis as a whole.
Miitopia is the name of the fictional kingdom in this game. You play as a lone traveler, your Mii, who is thrust into their destiny after meeting the evil force that plagues the land. The Dark Lord is attacking the citizens of Miitopia, stealing their faces and placing them on the monsters that roam the world. Upon witnessing the Dark Lord's acts, you are tasked with heading out to face the threat alongside your varying traveling companions.
This is where we see one of Miitopia’s best features: its use of Miis. When you play Miitopia you will be asked to choose a Mii to represent yourself, the hero. The game will also ask you to design the Miis that will represent your allies. You are free to build your team in any way you want. Do you want your real family to be your allies, or perhaps your best friend, or someone you idolize? Your team is not a set of pre-existing characters. Rather it’s a personal choice of what you want to see.
With each of your allies you also get to choose the specifics for their character. There are a range of classes for you to select from. In the early game you have staples such as Warrior, Cleric, Mage and Thief, but there are also some wacky options such as Pop Star and Chef. As the game continues you even gain access to new class types such as Cat or Princess, the latter of which was absolutely hilarious for male characters. Each class comes with different abilities and statistics, and there are plenty of opportunities to experiment as you progress through the game.
You also select their personalities which will offer both positive and negative quirks. Examples include Cool, Laid-Back, Kind, and Stubborn. There are seven different personality types to play with which can be a pain or really helpful. The Kind type, for example, will occasionally jump in front of potentially deadly attacks to save another character, while Laid-Back often use their allies as human shields. Miitopia is exciting when you see what each character brings to the table when paired with a personality, and sometimes personalities can clash with classes, leaving a lot to be considered.
Much like your allies you also cast important characters in Miitopia. You can create a Mii to fill the role, or you can choose from a huge list of available characters. Other players have built an incredible library of Miis that represent famous actors, popular characters and more. It was great to explore the available lists and decide a character that fit each role.
To be able to cast Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z as the villain was entertaining. Or, casting Professor Layton as the King, Bayonetta as a Fairy, and even Solid Snake as an arrogant prince. Miitopia is at its best when it enables you to freely choose the faces that surround you. This feels like a personal story that acts to empower you as the player to fulfill your own fantasy within the game. Miitopia is still a scripted adventure, but the choices in how you cast your characters is welcome and makes Miitopia special.
In many ways Miitopia is like Nintendo’s former foray with the Miis, Tomadachi Life. You act as more of an onlooker to the game while it plays itself, and this is perfectly fine. Most of Miitopia’s charm is born from the many elements that are out of your control, making Miitopia a game that is never tedious to play.
Miitopia is built as an RPG but acts in unexpected ways more often than not. Miitopia can be considered your first RPG; there are many elements that hold your hand and there is little input actually required, though the game does have turn-based battles.
As the player most of your job is handled more as an overseer of the action. In battle scenarios you make choices for attacks for your character and where they are going to attack. The allies you receive on your journey are controlled by the game. This can lead to many frustrating moments as you watch helplessly as they choose to make an action that fails to carry on what you started.
It is interesting to see what each character chooses to do, and it builds upon the personality of each character. Offering no power to the player, these supporting characters manage to become a vessel for you.
There is plenty of enjoyment in overseeing the action and helping at crucial moments. One way is by using healing sprinkles, a limited resource that you can use to recover hit points and magic points on your characters.
There is also a space known as the safe zone which you can move characters to. Most commonly this is used when enemies cast negative effects such as setting you on fire, making you evil, or inflicting you with uncontrollable laughter, to name a few. With a short time in the safe zone these negative effects are removed and your characters can return to battle.
Outside of battle situations you don’t do much. Between levels your characters stay at an inn where you can pair them in a room to build their friendship levels. You also oversee their needs; from defeating enemies you often get food items which you can feed to your team to increase their skills. This is a gamble as characters have their own likes and dislikes. You can give them one food item and they will love it, while another they might completely hate. You will regularly want to try new food items to find what's optimal for your character's growth.
You also earn money from battles and random chests in levels. This is another moment where Miitopia shines. Your characters will ask for something they want such as a new weapon or clothing item. If you have the funds you can give them the money to buy the item, but they won’t always come back with what you sent them for. This was great in showing how the Miis think for themselves.
The Miis are the game’s greatest asset. Just seeing them makes the experience worth it. When not at the inn or in battle your characters are often just strolling through levels, and you have no control outside of speeding it up and occasionally choosing a path. Yet it was still thrilling to watch the Miis as they journeyed through each level. They have small conversations and occasionally bigger ones where they stop and converse on something specific. These moments are often hilarious.
It is this element more than anything else that is Miitopia’s greatest draw. The game isn’t necessarily fun as you really are sitting down and just watching a game run itself for more than fifteen hours. Yet you keep going as the world filled with random Mii characters is so charming, and you thrive on every bit of dialogue and look forward to the next moment.
Miitopia even gets better when you work on building your characters' relationships. At the inn after each level your characters' friendship levels grow with whom they share a room. As the bonds grows you unlock various helpful perks where characters will team up for an attack, avenge each other, and sometimes even sacrifice themselves. Seeing how your characters work together for exciting and dramatic moments was another element that makes each battle so inviting.
At inns you can also get random scenes between characters that work toward building their friendships. Many of the scenes are repeatable across the course of the game but they never get any less charming. There is a particular beauty to characters randomly giving presents and seeing how the other reacts, which can also lead to jealousy from other characters. Each scene is captivating and a joy to watch for their simple charms and their often goofy nature. It was hard not to smile when watching the Miis interact on their journey.
Friendships can also break. Through random moments in levels a scene may trigger that will show characters in a fight. Many of these can be fixed before the scene ends thanks to another character or simple forgiveness, but others carry over. During this time your characters will not have access to their friendship perks with the feuding character, and it can lead to some amusing scenes. In battle characters can get into fights, dealing damage to each other but also enemies, or they might argue on who gets to attack first. Friendships can be ruined in a variety of ways such as through certain attacks or personalities — such as being used as a human shield.
Miitopia isn’t a fun game, and you will either love it or hate it but that’s part of its design. It’s surprising that this is not a game that would normally appeal to most players, but the moment the game begins you find yourself absorbed. You want to watch the Miis and see the cutscenes, you want to discover what part of the game you get to choose next. Miitopia isn’t thrilling but it's a solid game that would work well for RPG newcomers or someone looking for a charming game to play on the 3DS.