Miitopia Review

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Release Date: July 28th, 2017 (WW), December 8th, 2016 (JP)

Platforms: Nintendo 3DS

Publisher: Nintendo

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Developers: Nintendo EPD

Genre: Role-Playing Game

ESRB Rating: E

MSRP: $39.99

Ever wondered what would happen if you took Nintendo’s Mii’s and dropped them into a half Final Fantasy, half Tomodachi Life universe? Well, you’d get Miitopia, a game that functions as a JRPG when you’re out exploring, but shifts into an absurd life simulator during downtime with your party. It’s certainly a cool idea, but the title doesn’t handle either portion very well. Instead, imagine a game that was a quarter Final Fantasy, a quarter Tomodachi Life, and half Mii Plaza. The idea here being that a lot of the game plays itself, and when you consider how easy it is, it’s hard not to be even more turned off. However, Miitopia’s still creative and charming. It’s not enough to ignore some of its problems, but it is enough to keep you playing.

Adorable Style

One part of what makes Miitopia stand out is its ridiculous visual style and how this works so well with the Mii emoting, the character interactions, and the mini-cutscenes that usually revolve around corny jokes. Within my first few hours, it was hard not to smile. It’s simply adorable to watch the Mii’s you’ve picked interact so lovingly, and I was optimistic for future interactions. However, these quickly get repetitive. There aren’t enough scenes to compliment the 20-35 hours you’ll spend playing, and by the final boss, you would probably have seen each relationship scene ten times or more.

Thankfully, this is where the fast forward feature really helps. If you hold B, the game speeds up by x2 at any time. Without this, my journey might’ve lasted ten hours longer, which is incredibly unnecessary considering that a lot of it is fluff you’ve seen already. This doesn’t change how repetitive the interactions are, but it really helps minimize the pain of seeing the same exact scene over again.

The story of Miitopia as a whole seems to be some kind of parody on the average JRPG, as it borrows multiple generic elements and continuously questions and mocks them. The story is not very important either, like most JRPG’s.

Additionally, it’s a blast assigning Mii’s to story characters and party members. There’s nothing more satisfying than having Guy Fieri play your great sage with a party of Cleric Toon Zelda, Pop Star Mario, and Chef Gordon Ramsey. It’s also great how the game randomly assigns Mii’s across the world, so once in a while you’ll see something absolutely golden like Terry Crews being your quest giver.

Creative Mechanics

The big kicker here is how much thought seems to have been put into the game mechanics of Miitopia. Besides from gaining your abilities through leveling up, you also gain a set of relationship abilities which have the lot of you working together to do something special. You can show off to your party member which increases your damage on an enemy. You can get an ally to attack with you, and if your relationship is developed enough, one of them can revive you or try to avenge you postmortem.

When it comes to purchasing items, there’s no general store or armor shop. Instead, your Mii’s need to want something and once they want it, you have to give them the money to let them buy it themselves. The annoying part here is that there’s a chance that even though a Mii will say they want one thing, they’ll actually end up buying an HP Banana or MP Candy. I’m not sure why this happens, possibly to add to the comedic value, but it gets pretty frustrating, especially since I’ll have 40 HP Bananas and MP Candys back at the inn yet they’ll still waste my gold. At that point it feels like nothing more than a redundant game mechanic that solely exists to make you mad. There is the Catalogue, but that is unlocked later in the game and it only lets you purchase things you’ve purchased before.

There’s also a mechanic where you sit your party down at the table and feed them the grub you’ve collected on your adventures. This is essentially a stat boosting system where your Mii’s have their likes and dislikes, the likes giving them a greater stat increase and the dislikes giving them a lesser stat increase.

Another thing the game has is an Arcade, where you can play Rock, Paper, Scissors for gold, or you can play Roulette to get a vacation ticket that furthers your relationship with a character, free armor/weapons, an MP Candy/HP Banana, or some random grub.

Even with all of these things, a lot of what the game has to offer isn’t revealed right away. It’s actually quite refreshing that Miitopia doesn’t expose itself to us immediately. The game starts off with six jobs, but by the end it reveals another six. It also slowly reveals to us the five different sprinkles, safe spots, the dragon that lets you traverse the different areas of the world, and it’s interesting how side quests aren’t a thing until you get to the endgame. Safe spots can take someone out of the battle and bring them back to full health in a single turn, and sprinkles can revive people, restore their health/mana, increase their damage drastically, and give party members shields.

It’s hard to deny how creative Miitopia tries to be, but the game has a fundamental problem that would render any clever designs useless.

Where’s The Game? 

What needs to be kept in mind is how little of the time you’re actually doing anything. For some strange reason, the game doesn’t let you control your party. It only lets you play the character you started with. This is a huge problem, mainly because the typical party consists of four members. This means that in every fight, you’re not actually playing 75% of the time. What’s even worse is how the last boss turned out to be a ten-member fight, which means you’re only making a choice on what to do 10% of the time. The game is not in any way related to strategy, but instead it’s about how good your armor is or what level you are.  

You could argue that using the safe spot and sprinkles strategically is still you playing, but anyone could imagine how quickly that gets boring. There are actual moments in the game where you get split up from your party, and you take “control” of the ones who got split up, yet it just sits you there watching these Mii’s fight while you do absolutely nothing. You can’t even give them a specific general playstyle like in the Persona series. Unfortunately, you still have no control over your party members whatsoever.

What really gets annoying is that the choices the AI make are so clearly random. I’ve had moments where my party members would use their super moves on the lowest class of enemies in the game, and moments where someone would use an AoE ability on a single target. There are other obvious reasons as to why having AI teammates can get annoying, like how they can’t actually understand what a player’s tactics might be. If you just want to quickly kill a big boss with low health, but a party member also has low health, that party member will focus on healing themselves rather than doing what you want, which would be to quickly kill the boss.

The most noticeable problem I’ve had relating to the AI was against the final boss, where my character had very low health, but because one of our party members was dead, our cleric would continue to focus on reviving that party member. That party member was so weak that every time our clerics turn came around, they would be dead again, forcing the cleric to revive them. It resulted in an endless cycle of me not getting healed and a useless party member getting revived over and over again. This kind of frustration could so easily be avoided if we could just play our party members.

When you actually start a stage, movement is completely automatic and all battles occur at scripted times in your travelling. Imagine playing Final Fantasy and moving one square up took a whole minute, that’s essentially how Miitopia’s system works. I could understand if the enemies appeared at random times in random numbers, but because they always appear as the same enemies in the same spots, why do we have to waste our time watching the Mii’s walk in a straight line for a minute?

However, the biggest problem here lies in how easy Miitopia is. From my 26 hours with the game, I only clocked in three losses. Two of these losses occurred from my misunderstanding of certain game mechanics, and the final loss comes from the last boss, which was a decent challenge. Outside of this final boss, the entire game is an absolute breeze. Most of the time you can one shot any enemy with an ability, and even if you can’t, all of these extra game mechanics only add to how easily you can survive. Sprinkles and safe spots are very cool additions to the game, but they’re so damn overpowered.

It’s a shame because there’s such a wide variety of abilities in the game, but they feel redundant when you’re usually not the one using them and the game isn’t even hard enough to warrant them.

Smaller Notes

I originally wasn’t a big fan of how the game constantly took you away from your current party to give you a new one. This was mainly because I thought the game was shorter than it actually is and my first party wouldn’t get as much screen time as I hoped. This didn’t end up happening, since by the time I had all ten party members in my Inn, I was only halfway through the game, giving me more than enough time to play my original party.

It’s also pretty damn annoying that you can’t decide where to put your HP/MP consumables in your party, especially since there are a bunch of enemies that steal them from your members. The game won’t allow you to not set any to your group, so the enemies can have a field day taking everything from you. It’s also annoying because it automatically locks at two HP Banana’s and one MP Candy. What if I want three HP Banana’s? One HP Banana and two MP Candy’s? It seems really odd that the game doesn’t let you do this.

The Fab Fairy Princess dancing scenes are tedious. It’s even worse that the game doesn’t allow you to fast forward it or skip it. It’s so damn strange that this was the one time I couldn’t fast forward something in this game. It even lets you fast forward the goddamn final boss cutscenes. Does Nintendo understand how torturous these scenes are?

Conclusion

Miitopia is a fantastic idea on paper, but the lack of difficulty and the inability to control your party is beyond unfortunate. It’s still charming though, thanks to the hilarious Mii customization and the way your party interacts with one another, even if these interactions get stale quickly.

THE GOOD
Creative Game Mechanics
Awesome Final Boss
Adorable Mii Interaction
THE BAD
Way Too Easy
Can’t Control The AI
Certain Mechanics Are Redundant
5
Mediocre

Review Summary

Miitopia is worth it for people who don’t care if their game is too easy, but if you’re looking for a tough JRPG, stay far away.

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