Consider the humble Mii. In 2006, Nintendo gave players an avatar creator that allowed them to put their own faces on characters in Wii Sports. These little homunculi were everywhere for a good decade: from the Wii and Wii U console apps to sports games to social media and even to Super Smash Bros. Once Nintendo Switch dropped in March 2017, Miis took on a lesser role in Nintendo’s ecosystem. But a few short months before that, Miitopia released on the 3DS. In an unexpected move, Miitopia has now received an upgraded port to Switch, and in review — it is a trip.
Take Mii on
Miitopia is a JRPG-lite that stars, well, me. Every role in the game is played by a Mii that you choose, so of course my own avatar was the star. Throughout the course of the game, you’ll be prompted to select a Mii to represent teammates, townsfolk, allies, enemies, and even the main villain. This isn’t just a gimmick — it’s the entire crux of the story.
The land of Miitopia is a peaceful place, until the Dark Lord starts stealing everyone’s faces in a bid to take over the world. These faces are placed on monsters, and the hero needs to defeat them to return the stolen countenances. Your characters take on fantasy jobs like Warrior, Mage, Thief, Cook, Pop Star, and more so that they have the ability to take on whatever stands in their way.
Miitopia is also a very cool upgrade to the standard Mii Maker. You can add a few minor flairs to a Mii (My own little dude finally got a new pair of glasses.) or create gorgeous works of art. The possibilities are surprisingly endless, considering how limited the original character creator was.
With love from Mii to you
The game is split up into about a dozen main areas, each with many bite-sized stages (denoted as dots on the map à la Super Mario World). A stage may be a straight shot or it might contain branching paths, but you’ll usually only have a couple of encounters in each. Encounters can be conversations between characters, treasure chests, random items, or (usually) battles. At the end of every stage, the party returns to an inn, where you can feed them, give them money to get new equipment, watch their conversations with each other, send them on trips, and play mini-games. The more their friendship with each other grows, the more abilities they unlock for battles.
Battles are the meat of Miitopia, and much of the game revolves around what your characters can do in them. When assigning a Mii to a party role, you choose their personality and their job class, and both affect how the characters behave. One of my first characters was Lucca from Chrono Trigger, who was a “stubborn” Thief. Thieves are able to hit multiple enemies at once with their standard attack, lay traps to harm attacking enemies, and steal items from the bad guys. However, they’re not very strong. Stubborn characters can brace themselves for impact and take less damage from attacks but will also refuse to be healed sometimes. Every job and personality has pros and cons like these, and there are 98 separate combinations to try out.
However, everything that happens does so at random. Aside from the main character, each party member runs on auto battle. Every action has a chance to trigger a friendship ability or a personality quirk. Maybe Lucca throws in an extra attack. Maybe cautious scientist Zelda decides to prepare and take her time to do an extra powerful move. Maybe cleric Lea from CrossCode heals warrior Dunban from Xenoblade Chronicles, or maybe she doesn’t and the warrior gets knocked out. There’s a lot of chaos to the experience, which I personally found endearing, even when the outcome was negative. I can’t imagine it’s for everyone though.
There are times when you can tell this wasn’t originally made for Switch. The game will interrupt itself often to remind you to take a break. It’s an incredibly long game (40-50 hours for the main campaign and plenty of postgame content), but the stages themselves are short, and you spend almost as much time at the inn between jaunts. Ultimately, Miitopia was designed to be played in short bursts on the 3DS, and Nintendo didn’t update as much as it could have. Even the “popular” Mii category is from the 3DS version and is filled with characters that were popular in 2016 — so mostly Sans from Undertale and none of the amazing creations from the new version. It does translate fairly well to a docked TV experience, but I don’t recommend binging it, as it does get repetitive.
Can you take Mii higher?
I can’t overstate how cool the new Mii editor is though. Through creative use of manipulating the various elements, you can make almost anything. I’ve seen fantastic renditions of video game characters, characters from animated shows and movies, famous pieces of artwork, and so much more. It’s a real shame that these creations can’t be used outside Miitopia, considering how much they elevate the avatar.
— mit | MIITOPIA ACCESS KEY – 7W0XJ2H (@mitsamemario) June 9, 2021
— ? Joode! ? (@superjude81) June 8, 2021
— Chalice (@Shibulio) June 8, 2021
Take a chance on Miitopia
Miitopia is as quirky as they come. It feels a lot like WarioWare and Rhythm Heaven in humor and pacing, and it’s a prime example of one of Nintendo’s amazing B-list games. The music sounds like someone was having way too much fun with the Zelda soundtrack. When you turn on the game, the faces in the logo wildly sing at you. Characters go into short comedy bits with absolutely no prompting. At one point the main character exclaims, “We can do anything!” A teammate replies, “Like go home!” which everyone else thinks is a marvelous idea. This wasn’t the first or even fifth time the game made me laugh out loud.
And you get a customizable horse!
Miitopia feels almost anachronistic, despite being originally released just four short years ago. The gameplay, the design, and even the very presence of Miis all remind you that this is a port from another era of Nintendo. That being said, it’s a celebration of the Mii, giving them character and life and new customization options. I hope the success of this title can spur the Big N to continue making quirky, random, exciting things.
A review code for Miitopia was provided by the publisher.