One thing that always draws me back to Nintendo games is their unrivaled charm. Few games are able to emulate or create the same feeling of unadulterated fun that I get from Nintendo’s greatest titles. Miitopia, the Nintendo 3DS’s newest RPG that uses Miis to fill the roles of all its characters, is full of that campy charm that got me to love Nintendo in the first place, but it is unfortunately held back due to its repetitive nature and lack of variation until the late game.
Every character in Miitopia is a Mii; these can be your own creations, Miis ported from Tomodachi Life, ones scanned in from Miitomo, or Miis created and uploaded by other people. Even during the review period for this game, there were a ton of great, copyright-infringing Miis available to splice with my own creations, so I was able to craft my own unique feeling adventure.
I, of course, made myself the hero, who goes to the titular land of Miitopia to free it from the grasp of the Dark Lord, who in my case was Reggie Fils-Aime. Within minutes of starting the game, I arrived at my first town, and almost died of laughter due to its auto-assigned inhabitants.
The first character I ran into was Morty (from Rick and Morty) who was an anxious and carefree guide who introduced me to the town. Next came sassy child Cthulhu, who was followed by Zenyetta from Overwatch, and the Burger King and 2B from Nier: Automata who were a loving couple. To top it all off, the mayor of the town was Captain Falcon. Seeing all of these people in such out of character roles was immensely charming, and made the campy writing and jokes more enjoyable.
I was soon able to chose my first party member, and decided to make it DualShockers’ Editor-in-Chief, Lou Contaldi. There are a ton of classes to assign your party members during their creation; these range from more normal ones like Warrior and Mage, to very odd ones like Pop Star, Flower, and Cat. I decided to make myself a Pop Star and Lou a chef, and set out on my adventure. Over the course of the game, my party grew to include other friends and characters such as Batman, Soldier 76, and Baymax.
While some of the jokes don’t always land, and the story is simple, the game is well written for the most part. I knew I struck gold when I arrived to the castle of the first continent, and was able to make it so it was ruled over by an obese King Ted Cruz (which made some of his dialogue very ironic) and Princess Jigglypuff, with Princes Spongebob and Undertale‘s Sans vying for Jigglypuff’s affection.
It was funny to see all these normally unrelated characters interact, and it made Miitopia one of the most charming titles I have played all year, much like its spiritual predecessor, Tomodachi Life, was when it came out. While the game’s charm and presentation are great, Miitopia falters by having extremely repetitive gameplay.
Miitopia’s overworld is actually split into levels. When one’s party enters a level, they automatically move from left to right, occasionally stopping for funny characters interactions, to open chests, or to enter a battle. Battles play out pretty traditionally, with players having the choice to attack regularly, use magical abilities, or use a healing item. Players also have Sprinkles, which can be used to restore each party members HP, MP, or increase their attack power.
While a party can contain up to four members, players only directly control themselves. One can even set autobattle to have battles play out without having to interfere. The whole battling process is pretty hands-off, and can be sped up with the press of a button, which can make Miitopia a nice game to have on in the background or play in very short bursts. In longer gaming sessions however, the experience can really drag.
The AI constantly could sometimes act really dumb, and it is out of the players control, as there is even a way to really influence what the other party members do. Despite that, Miitopia is incredibly easy. I only ever lost a few battles towards the late game, and it was usually because of a poor AI move.
Battles weren’t very fun because they were so hands-off, and I had trouble staying invested in battles because I never ran into a real challenge in the main game. RPG genre veterans will most likely get real bored with Miitopia’s battles, though the could actually be fine if the game is someone’s first RPG, or they are only planning to play it in really short bursts.
The game shows its Tomodachii Life origins in the inn sections, which come at the end of each level. Characters can be put in rooms together, and gain affinity with each other overnight. The higher characters’ affinity is, the more special perks players get in battle, such as teaming up with another player for an attack. Characters can also get into quarrels with each other, though these can be cured by rooming the character together.
Characters will also sometimes interact with each other in little scenes to increase affinity, and while these exchanges are humorous at first, they can become very repetitive as one reaches the end game. I had a really fun building a mini-bromance between Lou and I early on, but the same interactions between characters like Batman and Baymax later on just didn’t have the same charm to them.
At the inn, players can also feed their Miis to buff up certain stats that carry over even if a characters switches classes. Party member gained early on tend to benefit from this more, but it is still a nice little reward for completing the game’s mostly monotonous battles. Game cards can also be found in the world, and can be used on a roulette to get new items or a Rock-Paper-Scissors game to get more money.
The countless amount of gold players garner can also be used to give characters more powerful weapons and armor. While I struggled to afford gear at first, by the late game, I could buy almost anything my characters wanted, so they were able to be decked out in the best equipment. This started a monotonous cycle, as it made battles easier, which made the game more boring, but netted me more gold to by better gear, and so on.
Unfortunately, Miitopia is too linear to be a great RPG, and not interactive enough to become an engaging life sim. It struggles to balance both elements, and while it can sometimes be really charming and a ton of fun like Tomodachii Life in short bursts, the game ends up as a repetitive slog. Miitopia is pretty long for a game this simple, as it ended at around 20 hours for me, so it certainly overstayed its welcome.
Without spoiling, in the last few hours, the world greatly opens up to players, and Miitopia starts to let players take sidequests and explore areas not entirely set on the story’s linear path. If this had happened earlier on in the game, I may have been a bit more invested, but by then, I was already being bored due to Miitopia’s repetitiveness.
If the whole game was more open, Miitopia would have been more fun, but the game’s repetitive and linear nature starting to frustrate me as a got further in the title. Miitopia‘s excellent soundtrack and undeniable charm did get me to play all the way through, just to see what funny characters and situations I would run into next, but not much else kept me super interested and intrigued. If you have never played an RPG before, or you like the quirky character interactions and charm of most typical Nintendo games, you will probably find something to enjoy here, just be aware that if you don’t play the game in very short bursts, you are in for a quite repetitious experience.