I’m a fairly young man, and without any close family members to get me into gaming early, I got my first console ever in elementary school. This console was the Nintendo Wii, the same console that gave us the Miis, cartoonish representations of the player. The first thing I did on any console ever was create this facsimile of self, and then play a couple sports as that caricature. Throughout the years, we’ve had a few games featuring the Miis, such as Tomodachi Life, Nintendo’s take on the simulation game. Personally, I thought it would be a better mobile game, as you have very little control over what events happen in the game, but instead wait for them to happen and add your input. Miitopia claims to be an RPG, and in ways it is, but the game is more like Tomodachi Life than Final Fantasy.
The story is ridiculous in the charming Nintendo way. A dark lord, a role to whom you can assign any of your real life enemies, has stolen the faces of many resident Miis. He put the faces on the monsters that he’s unleashed upon the land, and when you kill a monster it sets the face free. After starting the game, you create the hero, who’s supposed to be you, and the villain, who immediately attacks a town. The mayor asks you to retrieve the faces, and you’re set out into the overworld.
Immediately, you’ll see a similarity to the New Super Mario Bros. series. In standard RPGs, you’re allowed to wander the overworld at will. In Miitopia, you use the map to enter the level you want to complete, and are limited to that level. When you complete it, another path will open to the next one or two levels. You can run through each level and focus on your destination, or you can take each separate path in level, and take each branching overworld path to grind as many monsters as possible.
You may have noticed that I referenced paths within the level. You can’t even explore the level at will, your characters will follow a specific path and your only input is “hold B to go fast” and “here’s a fork in the road, choose a path”. After a while I’d just get bored, turn the TV on, hold B, and wait for a battle. It’s understimulating, and even the random events (I’ll get to that later) get dry after a while. The battles, at first, seem standard. You have HP, MP, Attack, Defense, Magic, and Speed. You pick a class at the beginning of the game, and as you level up you learn class-specific abilities. The classes include the Knight, the Thief, the Cleric, the Pop Star, all pretty standard stuff. You also get a little counter that keeps track of how many monsters you beat, and it’s addicting to see the numbers tick up.
Soon enough, you meet another party member. You model them after one of your friends, and this introduces a defining mechanic of the game. After each level, your party goes to an Inn, and if you share a room with your friend, they get a slight friendship boost. Some of the random events will also boost friendship, and as your friendship gets higher and higher, the pair will be able to assist each other in battle. This ranges from “lend a hand”, attacking alongside your teammate when it’s not your turn, to “avenge”, automatically attacking when a friend falls. Another two party members show up soon, and personally I found it best to have basic assists between all party members and two pairs of strong bonds.
The classes and the friendships allow for great synergies. The Pop Star is similar to the dancer in Fire Emblem, and one of their abilities is “Encore”, which lets another party member attack again. If one party member uses the “Praise” assist to boost an ally’s attack, they can attack once regularly and then again with an Encore for solid damage. This would be a cool strategy… if you had any say whatsoever in what your friends did. This is why I brought up the Miitopia comparison in the beginning. You can’t select actions for your friends, they’re entirely independent. Normally they’re fairly competent, but occasionally they waste MP or take much more damage than necessary.
Once you get to a decent level, the Dark Lord strikes. He kidnaps your friends and “locks away your powers”, reverting you to level one and locking you out of your class. This isn’t the worst thing an RPG can do, but it’s still incredibly disheartening to see hours of progress revert back to level one. It’s a sin, but not a cardinal one. You pick a new class, get another three friends, and grind back up to another level. Then it happens again. Your new friends are kidnapped, you’re locked out of yet another class, and you’re back to level one. So you do it over with another three party members (and a major kick in the ego when you realize you don’t have nine friends), and you finally arrive at the Dark Lord’s castle.
The music is a solid 7/10. There are a few standout tracks, but for the most part all the songs are just “decent”. The game is in the same cartoony style as Tomodachi Life, making the Miis seem much less out of place than they should. The story is also presented as a play, with curtains rising at the beginning of the game and appearing whenever new characters appear. You get to cast people as major side characters, and the idea that this is all a stage performance takes away any drop of tension the game might have had. Combined with the simple attack effects (a basic comic-book ‘pow’ effect without the ‘pow’), the game is designed to be as child-friendly as possible.
This is, in fact, a kids game, or at least a very kid-friendly one. The simplicity of the gameplay, the ridiculous story, the limited world, the art design, and the stage play setting are all designed around making the game fit for children. The game is marketed as an RPG, but it’s stripped down to the bare bones of “grind monsters and level up.” Watching you and your friends interact in game is fun and lighthearted, and it’s an enjoyable experience. However, it barely qualifies as an RPG, and it gets a bit tedious later on and it’s downright boring to binge play.
However, and the fact that this is here at all is worth an extra 10% on the score, there’s a postgame of near Pokemon proportions. It starts with a fake-out final boss, but instead of just throwing the next in your face it thrusts you into another series of overworlds. In fact, the postgame is so massive it warrants another review, which will come out a week from the time this review is posted.
Final score without postgame: 6/10