Mina & Michi Review: Friendship in the Forest
Mina & Michi is an adorable action/puzzler about friendship and adventure. Mina, a little girl, and her friend Michi, a…I don’t know what it is. A goblin? A person in a monster suit? Whatever. It’s obviously friendly if that giant heart on its back is any indication. Anyway, the two set off for adventure in a world based on the four seasons that’s also full of blob monsters, switches, and treasures.
After playing Mina & Michi for about five minutes, I realized that it reminded me of one of my old favorites on the SNES: Goof Troop. For the uninitiated, Goof Troop is an action/puzzle game based on the Disney cartoon. It can be played solo or multiplayer. The core gameplay involves battling enemies with anything you can pick up and throw and solving simple block and switch puzzles. There are also grappling hooks, cannons, and mine cart rides. It’s a brief but entertaining diversion that’s far too short and simple to be memorable for most gamers, however.
It’s Nice to have Friends
This is also true of Mina & Michi, which is unfortunately even simpler than Goof Troop. It, too, can be played solo or multiplayer, but it’s much better with a friend. In solo play, the controller is split between the two characters (left joystick and buttons for Mina, and right joystick and buttons for Michi). This design works just fine, but ideally, you’ll have a nearby friend. It’s obvious that the game is designed with multiplayer in mind, and it should be played as such.
Mina and Michi have different abilities, but they control the same. There are six relics to find in the game that grant basic abilities such as pushing blocks, destroying rocks, and firing projectiles. Mina fires straight forward, but Michi spins in place. With the right upgrade, Michi fires projectiles when it spins. This ability can be recharged by petting it, which is as cute as it sounds.
The gameplay in Mina & Michi is about as straightforward as it gets. Your job is to defeat enemies, solve basic puzzles, find keys and treasures, unlock doors, and defeat bosses. It’s accessible to everyone, even people who don’t play video games. Unfortunately, that’s also one of its flaws.
Mina & Michi’s gameplay doesn’t evolve beyond the basics. The enemies are all non-threatening blobs that will only hurt you if you aren’t paying attention. The puzzles are simple; the answers are obvious. Just push nearby blocks to cover the switches. Each area is thematically presented as a different season, but there’s no difference between any of them, aside from color and sound changes. There are a few environmental hazards to walk around, but they won’t give you any trouble. Each area bleeds into the next, and the paltry number of bosses fails to elicit any challenge either.
There’s also little to discover. A few of the relics require other relics to access, but that just means a small amount of backtracking. Most of the chests require gems to open (gained by defeating enemies and walking through grass), but many of them just give you more gems, and it’s not enough to cover the cost of opening the chests either. Keys also require specific numbers of gems, and you’ll have to buy those to access everything. That means you’ll have to walk over all the grass and kill all the enemies to ensure you have enough. And when there’s nothing to see and so little challenge, it unfortunately becomes a chore.
Super Michi, to the Rescue!
The game lacks any sort of difficulty because the enemies don’t cause that much damage, they’re easy to defeat, and they just aren’t that aggressive. They also tend to kill themselves on the environment, which means you can just wait a second and then pick up what they drop without even doing anything. You can also pick up health upgrades, which will give you more health than you’ll ever need. Even if you avoid those upgrades, you still won’t have any troubles because of Michi.
Michi, you see, is indestructible. He doesn’t take any damage. From anything. Ever. You can leave Mina off to the side and use it to defeat any and everything without ever taking any damage. This even applies to the bosses. They’re more aggressive than the normal blobs that populate the world, but it doesn’t matter. You can move Mina from corner to corner while Michi does all the work. This is true even in hardcore mode.
Mina & Michi’s presentation is acceptable, but there’s nothing extraordinary here either. Its 8-bit aesthetic is inviting enough, and the soundtrack, while catchy, repeats too often. There’s also next to no narrative, aside from a quirk blurb at the beginning and end. The game also ends as quickly as it begins. I beat the game in two and a half hours with one hundred percent completion.
A Quiet Walk through the Forest
Mina & Michi is undeniably cute, but that’s simply not enough. After the charm wears off, its gameplay is just too basic. It might be a good fit for younger gamers who need help, though. Let them control Michi while you do the rest of the work, and they’ll enjoy themselves. If you’re in the market for a breezy action game that you can complete in an afternoon, then check it out. It might be a good fit for speedrunners, too, as it has a built-in clock for that exact purpose.
Final Verdict: 2/5
Editor’s note: The publisher provided a review copy to Hey Poor Player.