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Miitopia review: A funny but shallow adventure that favours titters over tactics
Nintendo’s cult 3DS RPG gets a second chance, but don’t expect a deep experience
- Yuichiro Ito
- Key Credits
- Kouichi Kawamoto (Producer), Yoshiki Ueda (Programming Lead)
The Switch is no stranger to receiving ports of Wii U games, but it’s not often that Nintendo gives a 3DS title the HD treatment.
This makes Miitopia even more of an interesting prospect than it already is. Not only does this Switch port mean it’s getting a drastic visual upgrade from 240p to 1080p, it’s also a port of a game that wasn’t exactly one of Nintendo’s best sellers, meaning this will potentially be many players’ first experience with it.
At its core Miitopia is a (very) basic RPG, with the main twist being that every character in the game can be personalised. Whether it’s the heroes, the antagonist or the various villagers you meet, players can customise the face of every human in the adventure using Mii creation tools.
The story, rather fittingly, goes that an evil Dark Lord has stolen the faces of the townsfolk who populate the land of Miitopia. It’s up to the player to get a band of partners together and make their way through the land, restoring the villagers’ visages by defeating the enemies who are now sporting them.
Your protagonist can be created either by using an existing Mii or using the built-in Mii creation suite. Although at first glance it’s nothing drastically different to the Mii creation apps on the Wii, Wii U and 3DS, the addition of make-up (in particular a wide series of straight lines and curves) means particularly creative players can now make clever use of them to create a much wider variety of characters than was previously possible.
Once you’ve got your protagonist it’s time to head out on your journey, but first you have to cast the villagers in the first town you meet. If you can’t be bothered it’s possible to leave them assigned to default Mii characters, but the game doesn’t really meet its full potential unless you take the time to customise everyone’s appearance.
“If you can’t be bothered [creating anyone] it’s possible to leave them assigned to default Mii characters, but the game doesn’t really meet its full potential unless you take the time to customise everyone’s appearance.”
If you aren’t the creative type (or simply don’t have the time to make a load of new faces), there’s an option to connect to an online server containing some of the more popular characters that were created by owners of the 3DS version. Naturally, though, these don’t make use of the new make-up tools and as such they aren’t quite as detailed as the characters possible in the Switch version.
Players also get their own Access Key, which they can share online to let others access their library of saved creations. This means if you can find a particularly talented creator online (or someone who’s already gathered a great selection of Miis), you can enter their Access Key, rinse their stock of Miis and assign them as you see fit.
Once you’ve personalised the first batch of characters (and your other party members once they appear) the rest of the game starts to follow a straightforward and somewhat repetitive routine.
You’re presented with a world map, consisting of various stages, and the aim is to choose a stage then watch as your party walks along, occasionally encountering treasure chests, other items or – more often than not – random enemy encounters, triggering a battle.
These battles are basic affairs, offering the standard sort of thing you’d expect from a simplistic RPG; normal attacks, special attacks that use up magic points and not much else.
The only notable change is that you only have control over your main protagonist – the other three members of your party are controlled by the AI, and if you’re fighting weaker enemies, you can even choose to make your own hero AI-controlled too, meaning the whole battle plays out for you while you get to hold down the B button to make it all move quicker. It reduces the grind, at least.
Combat is rarely so difficult that the inability to control your partners ever really becomes an issue, and as your party members’ relationships build and they unlock new teamwork abilities that automatically kick in the whole thing plays itself out in an ever more complicated fashion.
While the lack of any real hands-on tactical minutiae is clearly a disappointment, there’s still something oddly satisfying in the way these battles are carried out quickly and efficiently. It’s also an ideal introduction to the genre for younger players.
The real enjoyment in Miitopia, however, doesn’t come from the combat but from the camaraderie. You can build your characters’ relationships by having them fight together or making them share rooms when your party stops off at an end-of-level inn. You can also collect tokens that let two characters go on outings together, be that to the cinema, for dinner or going fishing.
These situations can occasionally lead to amusing cut scenes showing your party members interacting, increasing their bond in the process. This is where the customisation improves the experience: when your party is made up of people or characters you know, it adds an extra layer of silliness.
“While the lack of any real hands-on tactical minutiae is clearly a disappointment, there’s still something oddly satisfying in the way these battles are carried out quickly and efficiently. It’s also an ideal introduction to the genre for younger players.”
As you play through stages, you’ll gather coins, which can then be spent on upgrades to your characters’ outfits and weaponry. There are six different job classes, each with their own unique outfits and weapons, and collecting them all will take some time.
In a nice touch, if you buy a new outfit but prefer the look of your existing one, you can choose to simply apply the improved stats of the new outfit but retain the look of the other one. There are also 26 Nintendo-themed outfits you can unlock with amiibo (and as before you can apply other outfits’ stats to them).
Essentially though, that’s mainly what Miitopia has to offer. You go from location to location, taking on progressively more difficult enemies while building your stats and earning currency you can use to spend on progressively more powerful outfits and weapons.
While you’ve got the relationship-building mechanic and other fun gimmicks along the way like horses and such, at its core you’re still dealing with an extremely basic example of the RPG genre.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, as long as you’re aware that this is what you’re getting. There’s still plenty of fun to be had if you put the time into ensuring that each of the game’s characters are represented by Miis you know.
Putting your family members and other characters into the game can lead to some delightfully bizarre and offbeat situations. We added a Mii of PaRappa the Rapper to our party and gave him the Pop Star job class (complete with microphone), and the resulting situations he ended up in were glorious.
If you’re going into this expecting Shin Megami Tensei levels of depth, you’re going to be sorely disappointed – this is as frothy and light as you’ll get from the RPG genre, and is a game that focuses far more on its entertaining scenarios than the depth of its combat.
It may be at its best when used as an introduction to RPGs for younger gamers – in that respect Miitopia absolutely shines, as it does if you’re just looking for something light-hearted that doesn’t tax your brain too much.
More experienced RPG devotees who have seen their fair share of complex titles, however, may want to give this one a miss.
As an RPG, Miitopia is about as light as it gets, meaning anyone looking for a modicum of depth will be let down. It's content being a light-hearted, laugh-focused piece of entertainment that doesn't require much thought or skill, and as long as you're content with that too you should have a good time.
- Extensive character customisation and sharing system
- Has a wonderfully endearing sense of humour
- A huge visual improvement over the 3DS version
- Its RPG mechanics are extremely shallow
- Loses a lot of charm if you don't customise each character