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We don’t talk about this kind of thing all that much anymore, but back in the day there was a lot of hubbub about whether or not a game could be considered objectively good or bad. I tend to edge toward the “no” side there, and something like Miitopia is a great example of why. It’s a fairly straightforward RPG experience that makes up for its simplicity by being packed to the gills with charm, including charm that the player’s able to insert themselves. If you haven’t had the chance to try the original 3DS release, well, now it’s on the Switch ready for another look.
Look, the first NPC I met in the game was Danny DeVito. The big bad boss was Nicolas Cage. I played through the first part of the game with Scooby-Doo and Bubbles the Powerpuff Girl. At one point I grew increasingly frustrated with Harry Potter because he kept spending his robe money on magic candy. I’m not really sure what more you could want out of life than this, and I’m afraid that if the above doesn’t sound at least a little appealing then we’re on such different wavelengths that I can’t really help you.
So the world is under attack by horrible darkness! Along with the usual monster issues, this darkness also steals people’s faces, leaving them as useless shells. What’s more, it redistributes people’s precious faces to said monsters, rendering the monsters way more attractive and also way more deadly. The world needs a hero, but what it’s going to get is you – a regular ol’ Mii traveler. When a guardian spirit bestows upon you the power to fight back against the evil Dark Lord, you’ll assemble a team of adventurers and head toward a grand face-off to stop all the facing-off.
The exact identity of all these characters is really up to you, as it turns out. Miitopia is all about Miis and you can choose which Mii fills each role. The legendary hero, the great sage that advises them, their fellow adventurers, the NPCs they save, and even the Dark Lord can all be designed to your liking. Forget designing them yourself , though – Miitopia will choose Miis from Nintendo’s online catalog and fill roles for you automatically or allow you to choose premade Miis, both of which are far more hilarious options.
One of my first quests involved rescuing the Joker, since the Clown Prince of Crime had his face stolen and stuck on a slime. Naturally, Batman was there to assist. Again: this is video gaming in its purest form.
Fighting off monsters and saving the day is accomplished using a simple turn-based battle system. Characters can beat on foes or use skills, though you only control your main Mii in a style somewhat similar to the initial release of Persona 3. It’s a very “lite” system, so hardcore strategy buffs probably won’t get a lot out of Miitopia’s combat, but at the same time it keeps the game flowing smoothly from beat to beat which is necessary for a game that’s clearly going for a comedic angle.
Other characters behave in varying ways based on both their job and personality; jobs are basically the same concept we see in Final Fantasy games and serve as classes, while personalities provide additional combat assistance regardless of job. Eventually you can change both of these, which raises some disturbing questions about personalities that we won’t get into. The job selection ranges from the standard, like warriors and thieves, to the esoteric, like, uh, someone dressing up as a cat, which is apparently a job now.
Meanwhile, personalities range from cool to stubborn and so on; cool characters might perform extra-cool and extra-damaging attacks, while stubborn characters will refuse to die even in protracted battles. Mixing and matching your options turn a relatively simple battle system into a more interesting affair, and without spoiling anything you’ll certainly get many chances to try the various jobs on for size.
Speaking of affairs, your party members’ relationships are also an important part of Miitopia both in and out of combat. After each adventure (where your characters automatically run down paths, taking turns that you choose when the option arises and engaging in little skits with one another between battles) you’ll encounter an inn where your heroes will rest and refresh for the next journey. You can decide which characters room with one another, boosting their relationships in an entirely innocent fashion and resulting in increased combat performance.
You can also hand out gold to your characters, which is the primary means of buying new gear – give them cash and they’ll go buy it themselves, though they won’t always buy what they claim they will, as in the example with Mr. Potter earlier. You can even feed delicious monster remains to your party members, resulting in stat boosts based on their personal tastes. The Switch port adds in a new ever-present horse party member and more options for increasing your characters’ relationship levels toward one another, which is all gravy.
If you’re familiar with the Mii style through Nintendo’s user interfaces or Mii-focused games like Tomodachi Life, you’ve probably got an idea of how Miitopia looks and feels. Everything’s got a nice, rounded aesthetic that’s immediately appealing. The actual appearance of the characters is, of course, largely up to you, while monsters will look different based on the faces they steal but are generally well-designed enough to keep them interesting. This port of the game to the Switch allows for more in-depth character customization and easier access to other people’s created characters, so it might even be worth it for 3DS veterans to give the game another shot.
All in all, Miitopia is a cute, endearing RPG with a hilarious concept that’s probably not going to appeal to everyone. A lot of the enjoyment from this game is what you make it – if you don’t get a kick out of Nicolas Cage spouting evil monologues and pondering how to get some bees to defeat him, then this may not work so well for you. A little imagination, though, makes Miitopia a solid adventure that’s worth a look so long as you can accept its less-than-deep gameplay.