Goofy Mii characters created by fans usually appear as an afterthought dotted around random big name Nintendo titles. Miitopia aims to change this by putting the little guys in the spotlight within their own RPG adventure.
Nintendo's Miis are one of those things that I have always laughed off as they never seem to fit in with whatever title they were patched into and with little customization of their outfits available, they all end up looking somewhat similar. However, in Miitopia, your Mii gets to go crazy with customized weapons, costumes, abilities, personalities, favourite foods, and sayings. It's not just tacked on, either. Every one of these attributes actually makes a difference in your personal experience as you watch a group of misfits try to get along while they save the world from the Dark Lord.
Speaking of which, Miitopia's story is a unique one. The Dark Lord is stealing faces from Miis across the land and it's up to you and your buddies to fight the monsters that wear them and return them to their original owners. It would be pretty morbid if I wasn't talking about silly-looking Miis. On the other hand, when a Mii is seen sobbing in a corner then they turn around and stare at you with no eyes, it can be quite startling. Anyway, whenever you come across a monster wearing a Mii face, it can make for some pretty hilarious-looking encounters.
The Miis that show up in your game as NPCs appear to be picked from a set of user-generated faces that are voted as fitting with that NPC's personality. When you boot up Miitopia, you're shown a selection of eight Miis and asked to choose which ones actually look good (to weed out the really odd ones) and which ones look like they fit a certain personality type. This cloud-sourced data is presumably used to decide which Miis appear in Miitopia but it doesn't always work out as I met a young kid with a beard who was running around and crying for his mummy quite early on. For the main story NPCs, you actually get to pick their faces so it's another way for you to customize your experience considering you'll be having many conversations with them.
The overworld can be compared to a Super Mario game as it consists of you choosing your next destination on a map of lines and dots. There are usually a couple of paths to take to get to the next town or dungeon with treasures or characters to interact with on the way. Once you pick a destination, you watch your Miis talk as they walk through the area. I was pretty disappointed when I saw this as it felt like a cop-out to not let the gamer experience the adventuring themselves. Eventually, I got used to it and ended up just putting my 3DS down and coming back in a few seconds when they were done with their walk and banter.
The banter between characters is initially quite entertaining as it consists of a character saying a random line then another one blurting out a random answer. Depending on what the first person said, the second person's reply can come across as sincere or sarcastic. Eventually, the sayings loop too much and you'll get bored watching. Having said that, just before writing this, I had a character stand behind another one and say something like "It smells so nice in here" and the one in front who's dressed as a flower responded with "My plan worked!" making me think that maybe he farted (or "tooted" as it's referred as in-game) and covered it up with his flower scent.
When you come across an enemy, you go through a turn-based battle system to take them down. The enemies range from stereotypical goblins and blobs to monsters with more entertaining visuals such as a turkey with a giant butt that twerks. I would have loved to see more of these Dragon Quest style monsters as they definitely fit in with the humour of Miitopia.
Although there is some control in battle, all three of the other characters automatically take their own turns with no option to command them. However, it may not matter that much as the battles rely about fifty percent on what you decide to do and fifty percent on randomness. You're given your typical MP to spend on magic or skills that usually do more damage than a regular attack. They can be rather enjoyable to watch considering the jobs in Miitopia are pretty off-the-wall. I particularly enjoyed watching the Tank ability "Human Cannonball" as the character dressed as a pink tank picks up another party member and flings them at the enemy. The launched party member is then mad at the character for the remainder of battle and even afterwards.
Another choice you can make in battle is deciding when to use HP, MP, or Life sprinkles. These are given to you every time you set out on an adventure and act more as an aid for those who find Miitopia to be too difficult than a core piece of the battle system. You can also choose to use an MP candy or an HP banana if you have any as well.
The randomness is determined by the characters' personalities, jobs, and relationships. A character with a kind personality may see that someone has no HP bananas left and run over and give them one while someone with the chef job may cook them a meal to raise their HP. A scientist might set another member's weapon aflame, causing it to do extra damage to the enemy while one with the imp job may prod a given party member to force them to act instead. It's all random and quite entertaining to watch.
Character relationships also play a big role in the heat of battle. If two characters are mad at each other, they will act all grumpy and do a weak attack on the enemy. They also won't warn the other when an attack is coming so they'll be more likely to receive a lot of damage. You can see this in their faces as well with both characters donning angry mugs that you can't help but laugh at. I put the battle system on auto-battle quite often just so I could watch the entertainment unfold. The challenge is barely existent anyway and more fun is had by merely watching the battles than actually taking part in them.
You get to play with up to nine party members throughout the adventure with three of them being swapped out twice. Yes, you completely lose the ability to use party members that you've spent time levelling up. I was shocked the first time this happened but then I realised that I had also unlocked three new jobs and that when I recruited three new party members, they would get these jobs. I've always been disappointed by games that offer a variety of jobs but not enough party members to try them all out. Miitopia manages this well by basically handing you the choice of giving one job to each party member. In short, it doesn't matter when you lose three of your party members because you'll have so much fun dressing up the new ones and trying out their new jobs.
Speaking of jobs, they include: warrior, mage, cleric, thief, pop star, cat, chef, tank, imp, scientist, princess, and flower. I've heard that there are two more optional jobs to unlock later, too. All of them pull their own weight with a selection of crazy attacks and abilities and they all have unique costumes. As I mentioned earlier, the tank job actually dresses up the character in what looks like a tank Halloween costume. The flower job makes the character look adorable with their flower head and silly dance as they walk.
The costumes themselves can be swapped out if you manage to win one at the inn or your character asks for spending money and actually comes back with what they said they were going to buy (yet another random event). You'll find an inn at the end of every single dungeon which means you'll be napping, eating, buying items, and gaming quite often. When you first arrive at the inn, you have to choose which room you want to put characters in. They can be all separate but that would be boring. You want to house them in pairs so that they can build their relationships or work out a brewing feud. Feuds are generally started by one character becoming jealous of another's relationship. It's so complicated being a Mii with everyone fighting for each other's attention.
Once you've had a sleep to replenish your HP and MP, you can head to the diner to eat your battle spoils and watch as each character gives a reaction from pure disgust to complete delight depending on their love for the food. Eating the food raises stats permanently and the amount that is raised is affected by how much the character likes the given food item.
After you're done in the canteen, you might want to do some gaming. The games are incredibly lame and consist of a spinner that can grant you a costume, a trip with a buddy (to improve their relationship), an HP or MP item, or some experience points. The other game is rock, paper, scissors and it's so difficult to win that it's not even worth trying to gain the money you get as a prize if you can instead use the same game ticket to aim for a costume on the spinner just to sell it. However, never sell a costume unless you already have it as chances are, it will look adorable and significantly raise a character's stats.
The level of randomness in Miitopia is ridiculous and it can either make or break the experience. When I first picked it up, I was disappointed and confused. However, after a couple of hours, I began to realise that I hadn't laughed this much at a game in my life. Miitopia manages to keep the randomness at just the right level as to change what is basically a simple story with basic gameplay into something that is entertaining and unique for every single player and it never creates a sprawling mess of confusion. The best way to phrase it is that you'll get out of Miitopia what you put into it. Basically, it's a "make your own fun" type of game.
Miitopia is the only Nintendo game that actually uses the Mii concept to its full potential. Even though the core gameplay doesn't stray far from a basic formula, I never thought that user-generated Miis could result in such an addictive barrel of fun.
- + Randomness results in a lot of laughs
- + Entertaining battle system to watch
- + Great mix of personalities and jobs to play around with
- - Battles are far from challenging
- - Exploring is generally dull
- - Very basic overall gameplay