When I initially saw a partial playthrough of the original 3DS release of Miitopia on YouTube, my expectations were low. You see, I’ve never been a big fan of Mii’s. For me, these simple, customizable characters were just not very appealing, and so I expected Miitopia to be a shallow and dull experience. I was quickly surprised by how charming and quirky the game ended up being, and I found myself toying with the idea of playing Miitopia for myself. I finally gave the game a try after the demo was released for the Switch, and it wasn’t long before a full copy of the game was added to my library. I had been writing about my experiences with the game over the last few months, and today, it’s finally time for a full review.
Miitopia is brilliant in its simplicity. The story is very basic, and the main premise revolves around a generic Dark Lord stealing people’s faces and putting them on monsters. Every character in the game is customizable, and you can choose faces for everyone you encounter, not just your own team members. And with the Switch’s far more advanced Mii Maker, there is the potential to make some pretty amazing Mii’s for practically anyone imaginable, real people or fictional characters alike.
While I usually chose characters other people had made (by entering their Access Key, easily found online when people share screenshots of their wonderful creations), a decent number of my own team were created by yours truly. This was especially the case when said character was a bit too obscure, most notably Crispin Whytehead and Dr. Loboto from Psychonauts and Swaine from Ni no Kuni, along with a Mii made to resemble my own Animal Crossing character. Frankly, if you’re creative and think you’d enjoy making custom Mii’s, but aren’t necessarily interested in playing all of Miitopia, I would highly recommend simply downloading the demo, where you can create as many Mii’s as you want for free.
Depending on who you choose, Miitopia can be a personal experience for anyone who’d love to go adventuring with their favorite fictional characters or even friends and family. To customize your team further, you choose a job and personality trait for every team member. Jobs can include the basics like Cleric, Warrior, or Mage, but as the game progresses, more unique jobs are unlocked, as well, such as Scientist, Princess, or Cat, each with their own set of skills. Personality traits have their own pros and cons, as well. For example, the Stubborn characters can sometimes attack more than once during their turn or reduce the damage they receive, but they can also start fights by refusing to be healed. Energetic characters can even occasionally survive an attack that would have otherwise been fatal!
Gameplay is quite simple, making this a much more casual RPG experience than I’m typically used to. This is how it usually goes…you choose a spot on the map, and your characters automatically walk along, with no input from you. A random battle begins, and you can only control your own character, which is fine in this case, because this helps to make your team feel like individual people in charge of their own actions. You can also put team members in the Safe Spot to heal and recover from status ailments, plus you can use sprinkles to recover or even give your friends shields or make them hyper so they can deal more damage.
Then after a few battles, random interactions, treasure chests, etc, you reach an inn. Here, you can feed your characters or buy them gear. These two actions play a huge role in increasing your characters’ stats, as much so as leveling up. You can also spin the roulette to win prizes or play rock, paper, scissors to win money (this is all based on luck, however, and winning is unlikely). You can also go on a variety of outings to really upgrade relationships, such as the beach, cooking classes, or stargazing.
To be honest, since so much of the game is fairly passive and often consists of merely watching events unfold or choosing options from a menu, it’s rather jarring when you reach a town and can actually move your character with the control stick!
Simple though the game may be, it’s the relationships where Miitopia really shines. You can build relationships between all your team members through various means, like the aforementioned outings or other positive interactions, such as healing or otherwise helping each other in battle. As relationships increase, your characters gain more beneficial abilities. For example, they can warn the other of an impending attack, give a healing item to someone who’s run out, or even recover from a KO after another teammate falls in battle. My favorite is when characters get angry at the KO of a friend, causing them to relentlessly attack the culprit in rage. On the other hand, characters can also get into fights with each other, which can make them start trouble in battles for some amusing results.
In general, Miitopia is a really quirky and silly experience. The Mii’s themselves are quite charming, from their interactions with each other to the way they are animated and dance around when they’re happy. Even the various weapons and gear they can buy are pretty funny sometimes, like a ketchup bottle flask for the Scientist job or an ice cream outfit for the Thief. (And let’s not forget the Macho gear, which makes your Mii look extremely muscular!)
And now for some random things that didn’t fit anywhere else…
- In addition to a team of ten Mii’s, the Switch version also includes a customizable horse that can join your team and help in battle.
- Since the game was originally released on the 3DS, the graphics are quite simple, but they work well enough considering all the characters are Mii’s.
- Miitopia has a surprisingly good soundtrack!
- The game is pretty easy throughout, though there is also a generous post-game that really raises the difficulty.
- The game can be sped up by holding the B button, which is a really nice feature when you don’t feel like sitting through an event you’ve seen before or a particularly boring battle.
My biggest complaint with Miitopia would be the repeat character interactions, which started to feel a little tedious after a while, especially once I’ve watched the same thing happen over and over again. A character falls in a hole. We need to agree on some ground rules for our room. We found a message in a bottle. Again. For such a long game, they really needed an even greater variety of interactions and events to keep things interesting.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed my time with Miitopia way more than I expected to, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a casual RPG with customizable characters and a silly sense of humor. While I heard many people were upset that the Switch release of a former 3DS game was $50, the game takes dozens of hours to complete (30 or more), so I’d say it’s well worth the price! I grew so attached to my Mii’s after the many long hours of adventuring we went through together, I have to admit that the game made me just a bit emotional once it was all over. And Miitopia finally changed my opinion of Mii’s in the process. Honestly, I’d love it if they released a Miitopia 2 in the future so that my favorite Mii’s and I can embark on a whole new quirky adventure together!
This post was originally published on Virtual Bastion on November 15, 2022.