While Nintendo’s Mii avatars aren’t as popular now as they were on the Wii, the publisher continues to find ways to incorporate them into games — or even build games around them. Miitopia is the perfect example. Originally a 3DS game released in 2017, the Mii-based JRPG has now come to the Nintendo Switch, and all of the charm and humor that makes this an enjoyable distraction cross over as well.
Miitopia allows you to cast your own JRPG story with Mii versions of your friends and family, or your odd Mii creations. You literally choose each character and can create them on the fly if needed. Once a Mii is cast into a role, the game applies various story elements to your adventure, and I’ve found oftentimes that the story and conversations match up to the Miis I used for the characters. Weird.
The story is pretty generic, of course. The Dark Lord (for me played by Ronald McDonald — don’t ask) is stealing the faces of the citizens of Miitopia, and your main character and a team of three partners are tasked with stopping him and returning the aforementioned faces to the victims. Players can assign different jobs to their Mii characters, like warrior, cleric, pop star, or thief, and outfit them with job-specific weapons and armor, and all of the elements of a proper JRPG are present here, making for a fun journey.
The gameplay adheres to a certain formula, as you select the area to explore, and then your characters walk on rails holding conversations until you come up to a monster to battle, treasure to uncover, or eventually an inn at the end to regroup, restock, and refresh yourself before the next leg of the journey. It’s simplistic, for sure, but that also makes it accessible to younger audiences, which could make Miitopia a gateway game to bigger, more advanced RPGs on the Switch.
Combat is turn-based, but even it’s been simplified. Players fully control the main character, and the AI controls your partners. You have certain actions you can perform to try and manipulate your partners to work with you, but for the most part, it’s a free-for-all out there. Luckily, my group’s healer (my wife) heals when I need her to, and my black mage (my cat) will cast powerful spells when we’re up against a tough enemy. It’s not really a problem, but it does take the management out of your hands, and could lead to frustration, especially for micro-managers and RPG veterans.
The writing and story might be a little tired, but Nintendo compensates for that through humor. I mean, it’s funny to watch my Miis interact together, but some of the jokes written for the game land, making for a fun experience, even if the challenge level is extremely low.
The music borrows elements from classic Nintendo titles and still manages to feel new and epic for this fantasy story. Miitopia also utilizes Amiibo in creative ways. Certain figurines can unlock armor sets, like Link’s armor, so it’s worth tapping a few and seeing what you can unlock for your characters.
Miitopia looks much better on the Switch than it did on the 3DS, as it should, as the graphics are better suited for a bigger screen, where certain details can be seen on the character models and backgrounds. It’s no Breath of the Wild or Bravely Default II, but it has its own unique look and art design that is decidedly “Mii,” and I guess that’s the purpose.
Miitopia is a fun, and simple experience that makes up for the lack of originality by injecting humor and charm where its needed. For creative types, those who love making Miis of friends, family, celebrities, and more, this might be a dream game. Taking those Miis on an epic, if not generic adventure truly expands the horizons of the whole Mii concept and gives them purpose again. If nothing else, there’s always that. For JRPG veterans, Miitopia could seem a little too slow, and no amount of charm or humor can fix that.
This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of Miitopia. A review code was provided to us by Nintendo.