From the makers of Tomodachi Life comes a new and quirky RPG tale for the 3DS. But what Tomodachi Life so cleverly executed in its unique design, Miitopia can’t quite match. Falling short of a utopian haven, the game revels in its own dystopian novel, coupled with lazy RPG design and a clichéd storyline that begs for more action and less monotony.
Developed by Nintendo EPD and directed by Yuichiro Ito, Miitopia is based on the back of the successful life simulation game Tomodachi Life and Nintendo’s mobile app, Miitomo. The idea of putting cartoon-like Mii characters in various weird and amusing settings hit the sweet spot for Nintendo fans and we craved more. Yet unlike Tomodachi Life, which banked on the player creating their own story between Miis, fashioning them with outlandish outfits and force-feeding them food they hated, Miitopia feels a bit stiff. It’s become structured, monotonous and tied down into an RPG format that would have been better posed as a mini-game of a Tomodachi Life sequel, rather than a fully-fledged title. That’s not to say Miitopia doesn’t have its quirky, laugh-out-loud moments, but that most of them can all be experienced in the first five hours of gameplay.
In the 30+ hour RPG adventure, the residents of Miitopia are scared of becoming one of the faceless. The Dark Lord (*cough* Sauron) has reigned supreme over the people for many moons after stealing Mii’s faces and placing them on monsters to terrorise anyone who dares to disobey his rule. As the hero of this tale, your Mii embarks on a quest to save the people of Miitopia by defeating the roaming monsters (goblins et al) and vanquishing the Dark Lord once and for all. Of course, you’ll have to visit several areas such as the lands of Greenhorne (the Shire), Neksdor (Rohan), the Realm of the Fey (Lothlorien) and the Powdered Peaks (Caradhras) before you can head to Karkaton (Mount Doom) and throw that blasted ring into… wait, that story sounds oddly familiar. But I just can’t quite put my finger on where Miitopia found its inspiration. Perhaps it was Harry Potter.
By creating your own Fellowship, players can embark upon the quest with their cast of characters that have their own personalities and job class. Pick from family members and friends stowed away in Mii Maker, import previously created Miis from Tomodachi Life or eye up the iconic characters in Mii Central to add to your cast. Or, if all else fails, create your own Mii and place them into your story as the King and Princess of Neksdor or as one of the Fab Fairies of the Realm of Fey. With countless options available, you’ll never be stuck for ideas.
As the hero of Miitopia, you’ll be allowed to travel with three other companions by your side, with each able to have one job role assigned to them. Choose from standard RPG classes such as a Warrior, Mage, Cleric and Thief or from more whimsical roles ranging from Pop Star and Chef to a Cat or Flower. You’ll also be able to assign personalities for them from a bank of seven available. While the job classes are varied enough and fun to use, the personality traits aren’t as fluid, forcing you to pick just one of them. Fans of Tomodachi Life will be disappointed here as there’s no personality quiz or sliders to change, resulting in personalities that are stagnant and only influence how your Miis act in battle.
Arguably one of the most contrived parts of Miitopia is being forced to answer a two-part questionnaire on a daily basis. Other than gaining three game tickets from the questions, which can be found easily in Miitopia’s various chests, there is very little reason to force this aspect on the player. At the very least, the exchange should be optional as it stops you from accessing the game’s title screen should you refuse to answer. Perhaps if there were more than two mini-games we could oblige, but with only roulette and rock, paper scissors on the virtual table to win gold or Mii outfits, there’s no real value in these questionnaires other than cold, hard data for Mii Central. Even as a marketeer, that’s a big guff.
When playing through your first five hours, Miitopia is a visual delight. The stereoscopic 3D works wonders in the battle environment and the speech bubbles above your Miis deliver the charming wit that was so well loved in Tomodachi Life. As an RPG though, that’s where Miitopia begins to break apart. The game lives and breathes on automation. There’s no free roam available and, instead, your Miis will walk down a pre-determined route, encountering monsters at pre-determined path points. Even the amount of chests are pre-selected with gold, game tickets, food or enemies stored within them. Though limited, players can choose the left or right path or which level to pull or not pull. Once your Miis reach the end of the path, they will head to the Inn for rejuvenation and nourishment. Essentially, Miitopia acts as a board game with a starting point and end point and, while there are hidden paths, these are few and far between.
In battle, players can sadly only control their main Mii, with the other three able to fight automatically. Attacking or using magic will damage the monster, while eating snacks such as a HP Banana or MP Sweet will recover your health and mana points. The game even introduces “sprinkles”, which allows players to help their team of intrepid adventurers by restoring their health, mana, and their lives should they fall in battle. Later, players can access Hyper Sprinkles to aid them with boss fights too. Thankfully, there are auto-battle and fast forward options available if you’d like to speed the laborious process up.
Unfortunately due to the automation in battles, Miitopia lacks strategy. While you can feed your Miis food to raise their stats such as attack and defence, the real problem boils down to the farcical storyline. After defeating the Dark Lord’s minion in a boss fight, he steals away your companions not once but three times and relegates you to level 1, forcing you to pick another job class. Although it’s fun to see what the other classes will do, and for the most part these are certainly interesting to use, it’s lazy RPG design. Quests, for example, don’t even become a staple of the game until 20+ hours in and you can’t freely change job classes until that point either. Between the automation and monotony in the storyline and battles, Miitopia becomes the haunting shadow of Tomodachi Life, always lurking and never delivering to its full potential.
The game’s greatest moments, though, come when Miis are interacting with each other at the Inn or in battle. Between quarrels, jealousy, excessive cleaning or body training, there’s so many brilliant interactions that bring a genuine chuckle. In fact, it’s a real shame that there’s not enough of them. Relationships feel diluted in this respect, only levelling up to give players the advantage in battle.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Miitopia loses its identity along the road. As a genuinely amusing life simulation game, it’s diluted as the support act. But as an RPG it’s lethargic, lacking strategy and appeal. Similar to a much-loved British dessert, Miitopia is like Eton Mess; a beautiful combination but sloppy in design.