Miitopia for Nintendo’s 3DS and 2DS portable systems is a weird beast—and if you’re a bit of a weird beast, too, you’ll get a kick out of it.
On the surface, Miitopia looks to be a cute, if not basic, turn-based RPG featuring your Mii (Nintendo Avatar), and those of your friends or other players. It is that, but it’s also a management game, and a real humorous one.
The story is lighthearted and downright funky, with the mysterious Dark Lord stealing the faces of helpless Mii’s, and placing them onto monsters. Our hero—who is either your own Mii, one you choose from the Mii Verse, or a new one you can create in-game—stumbles upon this horrible scenario, and sets out to recover the stolen faces with the help of a magic talking amulet.
All of this sounds generic, but it becomes a heckuva lot more entertaining when you realize that all playable characters, as well as the Dark Lord, can be customized; you can create new Mii's to play the roles, or choose existing Mii's from the Mii Verse. What does this mean? It means my starting party consisted of my own personal Mii, Batman, Spider-Man, and Robocop. Together, along with help from the powerful sage Stan Lee, we set out to defeat the Dark Lord, Mr. T.
If that doesn't sound fun, we can't be friends.
The gameplay begins with your starting avatar entering a town, within which you can move along a horizontal plane. You can speak to people, but this is merely a precursor to a cut scene that puts the story into motion. The actual movement in the bulk of the game proceeds along a world map, ala the level-select screen in Super Mario Bros. 3. When you enter a location on the map, your character(s) then begin walking from left to right through the horizontal world of their own accord, without your input. Along their path, they will encounter battles, treasure chests, inns, and occasionally forks in the road. Forks in the road require your input, and your selection opens different areas on the world map. Treasure chests trigger small cut-scenes that grant items or events; battles result in turn-based combat; and inns trigger the management component of the game.
While this hands-off exploration is bound to disappoint those hoping for an open-world wander-fest, it's simply not built to be that kind of game. The linear vibe is well suited for travel-gamers, however, and there's still location selection and occasional divergent paths that add elements of exploration.
Aside from the now-classic Mii Maker tools that allow you to create your avatar(s), Miitopia allows you to select your party members from your friend's Mii's, additional Mii's you've made, from Tomodachi Life, or from the Mii Verse at large. While this may sound like a feature that limits the game to multiplayer or MMO fans, the massive amount of select-able Mii's (such as celebrity, anime, and comic book-inspired ones) make the game a single player dream—in other words, while the game has social elements, all of it's content is single player.
There are also items to collect, such as HP restoring bananas, MP replenishing candies, gear sets, and weapons. Each item type can be acquired either by finding treasure chests, or by having the characters go buy them while at an inn. There are also costumes, which don't affect play, but are nice cosmetic touches. They range from silly inanities, to properties from other games; one way to get these costumes is via the use of Amiibos, which will grant a costume related to the figure used.
Miitopia also supports the 3DS/2DS Spot-Pass feature, which allows for additional Mii's to enter into the game for you to place into roles.
When it's stated that you can have characters buy items while at an inn, you actually can only dole out money to them, and only if they have a hankering for shopping. What's more, there's a slim chance that they'll get impulsive, and buy something totally different than what they initially wanted. They also could score a good deal, and come up with something better.
This is just one way in which Miitopia trades more traditional RPG mechanics for management sim ones; another is with its relationship system, which allows characters to bond together. Having characters share rooms at inns (max of two per room—sorry, my poly-amorous friends) will increase their relationship level, and grant them special combat skills based on how close they are.
This may sound a little . . . sexual, but it's actually downright endearing and sweet. Sure, there are pink hearts floating above the Mii's happy little heads, but their dialogue, skits, and the heavily positive atmosphere is refreshingly innocent. Also innocent is the food system, in which you feed your characters foods based on their likes and dislikes to increase their core stats.
You can also play a few minigames while at the inn, provided you have tickets, which the game grants you whenever prompted to select Mii designs you like (it does this at semi-regular intervals.) These minigames offer things like items, gold, or tickets for two Mii's to take an immediate vacation, which improves their relationship.
Winning combat rounds offers experience to each character in the party, and also bonus XP, which can be given to a character of your choice; this bonus allows you to beef up characters you haven't played with for long, or overpower those you use heavily. Likewise, you may get items, or free significant faces, which trigger scenes and plot progression elsewhere on the world map.
The turn-based combat is very standard fair, at least at first. You select and execute your character's actions when your turn arrives, and enemies and other party members do the same during theirs. You do not have direct control over your other party members, only the Mii you started with, but some skills can direct or buff your party members in such a way that they're encouraged to act as you please.
Eventually, you'll gain access to the "Safe Spot" behind your party line. This is an area you can direct a character to enter in-between anyone's turn; while in the Safe Spot, characters quickly recover from status effects (like uncontrollable crying), and recover HP, but cannot act. Swapping characters into and out of this area can be critical for success.
Similarly, using your HP, MP, and Recovery "Sprinkles" between actions soon becomes necessary. These are little salt-shaker like tools that you can select and actually sprinkle over characters during battle, which increase the related stat, or recover KO'd characters. You supplies of Sprinkles are limited between inn visits, so using them sparingly while in tough locales is important.
All characters have basic attacks and skills that are learned as they level up, and what those are is dependent on their class. There are six classes to start with, and several more that unlock. The initial ones are Knight, Thief, Cleric, Pop Star, Mage, and Chef. The Knight has strong single attacks, the Thief is fast and can later steal stuff, the Cleric can heal, the Pop Star offers buffs the Mage can cast offensive spells, and the Chef is a mix of the Cleric and Mage. Skills gained by relationship leveling are unrelated to classes and triggered randomly; they offer things like "Showing Off," which is when a character does extra damage to impress a friend. Some of these relationship skills also serve to increase bonds, which is an added bonus.
If there's any downside to the entire structure of the game, it's that battles and events are so well-shuffled together, that you don't get to do any activity for very long before needing to do another (in other words, you only get a few battles before you have to manage your party at inns, or vice versa). This seems negative at times, but prevents boredom, and serves to make the game surprisingly long-lasting.
graphics and sound
The graphics in Miitopia are exactly what you'd envision for a Mii-based game. The avatars look just like they do on your Wii, Wii U, or Switch, though with a few more craggy edges due to the 3DS's rendering limitations. The 3D backgrounds during travel are a nice balance of cartoon-ish and well-rendered, and the Mii and enemy animations fit right in with the goofy style of the Mario RPG games. Mii's are treated with a real comic touch, with good meals being rewarded by a flying leap and an explosion of flowers, and pink hearts appearing to signify increased relationship levels. Characters even do pirouettes in a spray of confetti through the arches that precede inns.
If you want a traditional JRPG with robust turn-based combat and endless loot, then Miitopia probably won't satisfy. However, if you want to play something different, there's nothing more different on the shelves this year. It's got humor, customization, and enough gameplay elements to keep you occupied on your lunch breaks or train rides for a long while.
So, if you've got a taste for RPG's and sim games, give Miitopia a go—it's worth it for the weirdness!
|+ Hilarious||– Very little free-movement|
|+ Choosing Miis to play characters is great||– Sometimes slow in getting to the next battle|
|Increasingly complicated mechanics||– May not appeal to those looking for normalcy|
|+ Family friendly, but not dull for adults|