If, like me, you fell in love with Nintendo’s bizarre ‘Tomodachi Life’ back in 2014, you can stop reading now. Go grab Nintendo’s latest 3DS oddity, Miitopia, because you’re going to love this too. That comedic curveball pitched your Miis as stars of their very own apartment-block drama – the funny little avatars based off your friends expressing their weirdest inner thoughts and enjoying unpredictable relationships.
Miitopia is a lot like that, except now the little guys go on adventures together to rescue a land in peril, whilst having weird inner thoughts and unpredictable relationships. And it’s a blast.
Miitopia initially surprised me by just how structured it was. Much like any other RPG, it begins with a menacing villain taking over an idyllic world. After choosing who I wanted to represent the ultimate evil in the land (I thought it only fitting for the Dark Lord to be played by an awesome Voldermort Mii I was able to choose from the Miiverse) he began stealing the faces of the villagers of Miitopia. These residents are grabbed at random from online Mii creations, and the results were a wild first cutscene. The starting village, for instance, was peopled by the likes of Diddy Kong, Luigi and the late Satoru Iwata.
I shoved my dorky little avatar (that I’ve carried with me since the first Wii, over various Nintendo consoles, perhaps just for this moment) into the spotlight and set off to reclaim the captured mugs of my compatriots. It should be said now that, whilst the inherent premise of Miitopia demands a few chuckles – just from how wacky it is seeing all these famous faces playing town mayors and princesses – the writing is a genuine laugh riot. Comedy is something video-games have long struggled with, so it’s great to see Nintendo getting it so right here. From the most throwaway quips your party members make as they trek across the land to their more in-depth discussions and story beats, Nintendo channel a wackiness that is hard to beat.
When you create or choose Miis to play leads in the story (such as a helpful wandering sage, or the participants of a royal love triangle) they’ll fill in predetermined roles, but when you assign your party members you’re able to shape their personality. It’s a simple choice between adjectives such as laid-back, kind or stubborn, but these traits not only shape the characters skills, but their dialogue too. My entire party was made up of my friends and family, and I was often stunned by just how accurately these guys were portrayed through such a simple defining process.
You can also choose a class for your teamates, which doesn’t have much of an affect on their personality but instead shapes their battle prowess. Aside from your standard Warrior / Mage/ Thief / Cleric classes, Miitopia has a couple of unique jobs in Chef and Popstar. They’ve all got level ups and skill trees that subvert genre-norms in funny ways, and having a varied group is imperative to your successes in tougher fights.
As your little band of varied oddballs make their way across the land, recapturing the stolen faces of the villagefolk and completing simple quests, they’ll level up, aqquire new skills and get into all sorts of weird mischief. The game map is similar to a Mario game, with little nodes on the screen that you can delve into and adventure in. These routes are comprised of a few battles, a treasure chest or two and maybe a split path – and are often interspersed with story vignettes that personalize your party further. At the end you’ll usually come across an inn, which is where the second half of the game takes place.
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