Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS
Reviewed On: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date(s): December 8th, 2016 (JP), July 28th, 2017 (NA, EU)
There are many different kinds of creativity. Some people gravitate more towards writing and storytelling, while others are more visually inclined and find solace in designing whole worlds and characters. Some can do a bit of both. While something like the recently released RPG Maker Fes might appeal more to those who love to create whole worlds, Miitopia is a love letter to people of all ages who always wanted to see their creations come to life and go on silly adventures.
However, not being a visually creative person, I got to experience the other, much more hilarious side of Miitopia: the brilliant integration of Mii Plaza. Mii Plaza serves as a massive database of Mii designs from players all over the world. The Plaza offers you dozens of randomly selected options, but you can also type any name into a search bar and see what pops up. Everyone from Naruto to Markiplier to Kirby can be found here, and it’s absolutely glorious. I really can’t commend the development team enough for offering this as an option for those of us who don’t care to make our own characters. Instead of traveling with your friends or family members, you now have the option of traveling with the main cast of Harry Potter or some of your favorite characters from Fire Emblem Awakening, each recreated surprisingly well.
For my part, I decided to make up my party of all Nintendo employees. Miyamoto became a thief, Aonuma a soldier and Krysta (from Nintendo Minute) a pop star, while Sakurai became the infamous Dark Lord and Reggie the honorable Great Sage. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t crack a smile every time one of them made a silly expression or gasp when they got angry at each other. It was undeniably cool seeing myself fighting alongside Miyamoto, especially when we managed to pull off a team attack and completely demolish a group of monsters.
Like Mario games have always put the story to the side in favor of gameplay, Miitopia puts the story aside in favor of character interaction. The somewhat horrifying premise of a Dark Lord swooping in, stealing everyones’ faces and placing them on monsters is never taken too seriously. There are cutscenes here and there, but they’re mostly avenues to set up amusing interactions between Miis. Because Mii Plaza is also used to populate towns with random Miis, this meant seeing myself laugh at a rambunctious child version of Rick (from Rick and Morty) and trying to stop the shifty husband-wife duo of Danny Devito and Hermione from trying to rip me off on the price for an MP Candy. There’s a lot to love here if you have a good sense of humor.
As an RPG, Miitopia thrives in its simplicity. The very basic leveling system and gear upgrades make it absolutely perfect for younger gamers as an introduction to the genre. Meanwhile, gamers who grew up cutting their teeth on classic RPG conventions (like myself) can appreciate how streamlined the whole experience is compared to something like Disgaea 5 Complete. Characters gain stat boosts with every level-up and piece of gear, sure, but the real joy comes from seeing your characters flaunt around in everything from a chicken costume to a silk robe. Players can feed Miis food to earn special stat boosts, but it’s almost more interesting seeing their reactions to a new dish (they can love it, hate it and everything in-between). At times this makes Miitopia feel incredibly similar to its spiritual predecessor, Tomodachi Life. I often felt like I was looking after my party as much as I was following them on their adventure.
There are some games that aren’t meant to be taken seriously. Miitopia is one of those games. It’s consistently fun, lighthearted and silly. Focused on character creation and interactivity instead of deep gameplay mechanics, Miitopia stands out as an easygoing alternative to the traditional RPG. Using the photo button present on screen for almost every cutscene and interaction, I’ve captured some of the most fun moments I’ve had with a game in months. It wasn’t because the battle system was innovative, or gear leveling was fleshed out, or the world exploration was a diverse and unique experience–none of those things really apply to Miitopia. Instead, it was because I was able to make personalized memories with characters I knew I wanted to travel with and fight alongside. The expressiveness and customization of Miitopia’s cast (you can literally customize any character in the game) gives it a unique hold in the RPG genre and has me excited to go back and continue my quest with my ragtag troupe.
Brent Middleton grew up watching anime, playing RPGs, and aspiring to be a respected writer. As an adult, not much has changed. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter @CreamBasics and argue about Xenoblade Chronicles 2 being the best game of 2017.
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