Believe Mii, this is something
Tomodachi Life was a game that allowed players to put a bunch of Miis on an island and watch hilarity ensue as the miis interacted with one another like they were in the world’s strangest sitcom. Now, two years later the same people behind Tomodachi Life have brought us another Mii-focused adventure in the form of Miitopia. Miitopia is a turn-based RPG with life simulator elements. So what happens when you take crazy Mii antics and place them into an rpg setting?
Tell Mii a Story
The game is set in a fantasy world where the player’s Mii is granted power by a mysterious divine voice. From there, they are tasked with defeating the Dark Lord, who has been stealing the faces of Miis and placing them onto monsters. Along the way you help out other Mii characters, recruit new Mii allies, and have a number of weird misadventures. I can’t say much for the game’s plot, but it’s a Mii rpg game, so you shouldn’t come in expecting an elaborate narrative. It’s simple, easy to follow, and it keeps you moving from place to place. There were, however, a few serious late game plot twists that were well-executed and downright surprising. But they were also a little out of place in contrast to some more sillier story moments that fill most of the plot.
Part of the game’s fun and charm is in the Mii usage. Like in Tomodachi Life, you get to pick the Mii characters that appear in the game. This combined with the game’s unpredictability can lead to some funny moments. For instance Goku from Dragon Ball Z can be the king of the country with Zelda as his daughter, who is caught up in a love triangle with Robbie Rotten and Mr. Clean. Or alternatively, you can use Miis of your real life friends. I myself used a bunch of my friends as characters, and we all had a good laugh as we watched our tiny counterparts interact in zany situations. It’s like Mad Libs meets Final Fantasy.
Alternatively, you can activate Streetpass and the game will fill npc Miis with randomized Mii characters that others have made. You can also search Miis by name to find a specific Mii to suit your fancy, which is especially helpful if you don’t have the talent or patience to craft more elaborate miis like Sonic the Hedgehog or an actual T-Rex.
Combat is done in a traditional turn-based system that most players will be familiar with. You can control the actions of your party leader directly, but the rest of the party acts independent of the player. This is hardly ever a good feature, as it takes away any sense of strategy. Party members don’t make ideal decisions all the time, either. For example, healers prioritize healing, which is isn’t necessarily bad, but the problem is that they almost always prioritize healing. My Chef doubled as both a healer and melee fighter, and there were times when I’d need him to hit rather than heal and he would heal a party member instead of inflicting helpful damage to end the fight sooner.
When creating a mii party member you get to choose their personality, things like Energetic, Cool, or Stubborn. These traits grant additional abilities and penalties in combat. For instance, an energetic character can cheer up another Mii and restore MP. But they also have a chance of tripping during an attack and harming themselves. These abilities combined with the class abilities can lead to a variety of character options in combat. A few of these combinations result in Miis that are a bit too powerful in the early game, such as a cool warrior who deals extra damage by targeting weak points and has a chance of dodging most attacks.
There’s the traditional RPG staples such as warrior, cleric, mage etc, but then the game throws in some odd classes. Among these is a Chef class that is a healer/melee fighter and a Tank class that is literally a tank. It’s a bit odd in theory, having a medieval knight character fighting alongside something like a modern pop star, but then again this a game where a man with a camera head sells you embarrassing screenshots of boss battles. It fits in with the game’s already strange nature.
The relationship system from Tomadachi life returns, but implemented differently. First off, characters can have relationships regardless of gender. However, you can’t have characters marry each other and have children. Although the relationships get more and more affectionate at higher levels, reaching borderline romantic levels at times. Building up relationships allows Miis to utilize special abilities in combat such as boosted damage or comforting wounded party members. A relationship system like this has been done before, but it encourages the player to have Miis interact with each other. Of course relationships can go bad, resulting in Miis getting into fights and impeding combat until they make up. It’s annoying but I also found it to be a decent balance to the relationship system.
You have access to a number of salts in combat with various effects. These effects include healing, and sending a mii into a berserk state where they deal extra damage. Players can use these salts at any time in battle, which is helpful when you need a lot of healing but can’t afford to waste a Mii’s action to heal. These salts also improve as you defeat more enemies. However, these upgrades only apply to HP and MP restoration salts. The other salts do not improve at all. I defeated over 1,000 enemies and I still only have one use of the revival salt.
Defeating enemies grants you gold and food. You can feed this food to your party to boost stats. Miis have specific tastes and won’t always like what you feed them. Feeding your Miis gets a bit tedious, but the game doesn’t force you to do it so, in a way, this feature is optional. However, it is necessary for making sure your units have stats that can survive against higher level monsters.
Gold is used to buy items for miis, who will request them at inns. Most of the time these are clothing or weapons. I had two problems with this system. First this is the only way to get armor and weapons besides from chests. So if your mage needs a new set of robes, you’ll have to wait for them to request it. Second, a number of the weapons and armor were visually unappealing. There were some cool looking items, but to get to them you have to buy the goofy looking outfits and weapons. Others can overlook this but not everyone wants to run around in pastel blue heart armor. Luckily you have the option of changing your armor’s appearance to that of armor you own while still retaining another armor’s stats. So I could keep the +6 defense of the plaid apron without looking like a tablecloth.
The “levels” of the game take place in a series of automatically moving paths reminiscent of that one Mii puzzle game on the 3DS. Levels are broken up by travel encounters, treasure chests, and short mii interactions where the party members discuss the plot so far or randomly exchange banter. Most of these levels have branching pathways that lead to stronger monsters, treasure, or more mii interactions. It also encourages players to replay stages to get all the goodies in a level.
Unfortunately, watching Miis walk a straight line gets a bit boring after awhile, but you have the option of holding down B to fast forward. However, you can’t skip through text in cutscenes in this way. It’s a little bit annoying to have to keep switching between two buttons when fast forwarding, especially in the quizmaster cutscenes, which are identical every time. You’ll definitely want to fast forward if you don’t want to hear the same dialogue over and over again.
The Finer Points of Your Adventure
Your Miitopia party tends to get pretty powerful pretty fast in the first half of the game. This means the game needs to balance your powerful party to keep the game from being too easy or boring. It does so by taking away your party at random intervals and nerfing you to level 1, then forcing you to choose a new class for your character. At the end of a world, the Dark Lord will steal your Mii party and revert you back to a traveler. For the next world, players must choose a new class and recruit a new squad of miis.
On one hand, it does encourage the player to try new classes and party layouts. But when it happens without warning it’s very jarring. Imagine creating a Mii party with the intention to play through the game with these Miis, only to have them suddenly taken away and forcing you to pick up a new play style. You do get these Miis back later, along with the ability to freely change classes, allowing you to regain your preferred class. And you do have plenty of time to keep using your Miis for the game’s second half.
I’ve mentioned the first half of the game being rather easy, but difficulty does pick up around the halfway point. At that point the game introduces more stronger enemies that make combat more difficult. Some of these enemies like the Minotaurs were a good challenge while others had cheap, unfair gimmicks. Two such enemies include the fiends who can insta-kill Miis with a single move, and Ufos who will steal all the HP restorative items in a unit’s inventory and don’t give them back. It pretty much robs hundreds of gold worth of healing items with no failure chance.
The Mii-nor Details
The game really nails a lot of smaller details. The worlds are designed very differently from each other, to the point no two worlds are alike. Enemy design is creative, with plenty of new enemy designs each level, some of which are better than others (The Twerky will forever haunt my nightmares). The soundtrack is good too, with enough variety so you won’t get sick of hearing the same songs repeatedly.
Another obnoxious feature is the game’s frequent “do you want to keep playing” message. This message appears every three or so stages, almost as if the game is asking if you have anything better to do. While I understand that staring at the game’s screen for long periods of time isn’t good for you, it’s kind of annoying to keep getting this message every five or so minutes. It’s also worth mentioning that this game has a surprisingly long length to it. The story is quite long and things like side quests, alternative paths, and post-game content will keep you busy even after you save Miitopia.
Miitopia is a game that’s a lot better than you’d expect. The game can be funny both when it needs to and when it doesn’t expect to. It has a combat system that runs surprisingly well. Miitopia was just overall a fun goofy experience to play. It’s far from perfect, with map stages that get boring after awhile and a few poorly thought out gameplay features. But overall, Miitopia exceeded expectations, and I recommend checking it out, either by purchasing the full game or at the very least trying out the demo on the Nintendo E-Shop.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: Nintendo 3DS; Publisher: Nintendo; Developer: Nintendo; Players: 1 ; Released: July 28, 2017; ESRB: E; MSRP: $39.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a retail copy of Miitopia purchased by HeyPoorPlayer.