Miitopia Nintendo Switch Review
What seemed to be the last hurrah for Miis came with the 3DS Mii-centric RPG Miitopia, which was released worldwide in 2017. The near disappearance of Mii titles since then left many to think they were done for. Yet this enhanced Switch port of Miitopia brings new hope for Miikind.
Your quest starts when you - or whatever Mii you made the protagonist - flee from a very scary butterfly. The nearest town is attacked by the Dark Lord who steals faces and attaches them to monsters – an absolutely terrifying premise if the story were played out with most any other art style. Thankfully, you are gifted with divine powers and party members throughout your quest. The tale is relatively simple with a couple of surprises. There’s minimal character development as the entertainment hinges more on quirky scenarios with your Miis.
The main appeal of Miitopia is making the cast entirely out of Miis. Whether they are party members, the bad guy, or someone’s grandmother, you can create your own with the inbuilt system or select others’ Mii creations through different means. If you’re less inspired, this release has default Miis you can use, but not for party members. Unlike Malibu Stacey, this re-release has multiple additions, including wigs and make-up, taking Mii customisation to never-before-seen levels. Make-up can be applied not just as lipstick but various shapes you can move and twist around your Mii’s face. I went for simpler looks like an emo clown to an e-girl. Scrolling through your friend’s Mii collection or social media, you’ll find all sorts of intricate creations such as a Wooloo or ENA. With the power of God and anime characters on your side, you head out to defeat the Dark Lord.
You travel on a world map where you’ll enter corridors filled with monsters, random events, and more. These pathways have alternate routes, but there’s little variety. Frequently when autorunning the dungeon paths, Miis will hold short randomly generated conversations with each other, although they often don’t make any sense. One might shout “Whoo!” while the other responds with, “How much?”. It can at times be funny but mostly I feel they could’ve fixed it this time around. Fighting these horrific monstrosities is undertaken in turn-based battle, though your hands are partly tied. You can have up to three party members with you, but only the main hero is controllable. Typically I always prefer to control my party members in similar games, but it’s not an option here. Thankfully you are not entirely beheld to the whims of your companions. You gain the divine power of sprinkles to replenish health (HP), mental points (MP), and apply other effects between turns. During battle, Miis can be moved to a safe space to recover from status effects, such as crying too hard to see.
Often you'll need to interfere to protect their lives, keeping you engaged in most fights or at least in boss battles. Your actions outside of battle will influence what happens within, as levelled-up relationships allow for more assists, like a pincer attack. Damage can be multiplied when a Mii decides to show off for their friend. Miis are given set personalities, these will influence whether they kindly let a monster escape or stubbornly refuse healing. Such scenarios will increase relationship tensions. While it’s in your best interest to ensure party members get along, sometimes upset Miis will amusingly be given an extra action as they spitefully try to block another’s turn.
Not only are the Miis customisable in appearance, but there are also several jobs you can pick between, with more unlocking as you progress. From warrior to princess, cat or a literal tank, these classes cover a range of bases from support and healers to big hitters or multi-target attackers. It’s quite fun to see a Princess be escorted out of harm as one of their passive abilities. Unique abilities like jabbing a friend in the bum with my giant fork were also always amusing. Eventually, you can change jobs as you please. Levels and gear don’t transfer, however, so you’ll have to consider whether it’s worth the extra effort.
Of course there is another supplementary party member in the form of your horse. Your noble steed can be customised to be as normal or Yoshi-esque as you please. Miis can develop a relationship with the horse unlocking special moves and assists, though that may leave a Mii at the inn on their lonesome. Every few turns the horse will decide to help out a close party member, but it takes away your normal attack option. Eventually I gained the ability to make Flosshi (my horse) snort on all enemies. I was grateful as my current class level had no multi target attacks. There’s a job specific move involving the horse, using up all your MP and can only be done by the main character, which made me switch back from Princess to Imp as I preferred a heavy hitting attack over a buff and potential status effect.
What actions were allowed to me in and out of combat ensured I felt more in control than I would've without them. Unfortunately, some random events get in the way, like when one falls down a hole and isn't present when a strong rare enemy shows up.
At the end of the dungeon paths you’ll return to an inn - seemingly more plentiful than fast food establishments in the real world. Here you can influence the strength of your team, such as by pairing Miis into rooms to develop their relationships. These can be humorous based on who's who and inter-relationship drama. My Mii once became incredibly jealous because Sanji gave a gift to Metallia.
One of the additions to this version is the inclusion of outing tickets, pushing aside but not outright replacing the original holidays. Giving a Mii one of these will allow them to head out into the world with their nearest or dearest friend - sometimes fighting a monster on the way - to a cute scene in various locales such as the movies or a cooking class. While there are multiple scenes per location as is the case with the inn chatter, you will run into repeated dialogue, which can make the welcome break just as monotonous as exploring the world.
Most importantly you can increase Mii’s stats by feasting on the scraps of your enemies. Their taste buds are randomised, so sometimes you’ll just have to pass the plate to another party member.
The most annoying aspect of Mii autonomy is you can only get new equipment and weapons (which are class locked) through winning them in a rigged roulette, opening treasure chests or when they ask to buy it. Often, my team wouldn’t want new gear until I was too broke, and sometimes they came back with another item instead of what you sent them off for. In my playthrough, this left my warrior Wendell in less-than-shining armor for quite some time.
The artstyle might not lead others to my own exclamation at Miitopia's beauty, but I’m happy to see the colourful looping backgrounds free from the constraints of 240p.
Playing on Switch’s handheld mode the Miis seem a bit more jaggedy on the edges, but it’s still a marked improvement over the 3DS. The rougher shapes of monsters, like the barbell lifting demons, are more obvious here. I found the art style all comes together no matter how Peculia it gets. For the most part game performance was fine, but in some outings and occasionally elsewhere the frames would drop noticeably. This seemed to often take place around water effects, when the hardware should be able to handle it.
Another benefit of playing on the Switch is being able to enjoy the large and varied soundtrack. Battle themes are all appropriate to their locale but have extra touches to make them especially stand out. The desert region Neksdor sounds like you'd expect but is paired with a funky bassline. I especially adore the techno focused tracks I heard when fighting a rare enemy or in Nimbus. There are plenty more tunes present to suit the various shenanigans your Miis get into. The care put into the OST reminds me of some of my favorite childhood games.
It’s easy to see just how much playing Miitopia can feel like going through the motions. Miitopia's narrative beats are often repeated, effectively resetting your progress entirely, which hinders the feeling of real progression. One major annoyance I’d hoped would’ve been changed but wasn’t is later in, party members become temporarily ill. It’s necessary to use other party members but forcing it becomes extremely annoying. Especially in post-game as often the same Mii will be targeted and starts trailing behind in levels.
Generally speaking the new version of Miitopia is a straight improvement over the original, but there is one annoyance that’s rolled over from squishing two screens into one. The menu you use to apply sprinkles or change settings mid battle takes up a third of the screen, which can be annoying when a character is using a new move and you can’t see it quite as well. What’s weird about it is if a skill is being used for the first time you can’t fast forward through it. Yet if you’ve opened the menu you can’t close it until the current turn is over. Speaking of the fast forward button, I wish it was a selectable toggle instead of having to hold it down, as for a returning player I had very little need to be playing at a snail's pace.
Despite the amazing levels of detail Mii creation can reach now, it seems a shame they didn’t add any more amiibo costumes, especially since plenty of new figures have been released since 2017. It’s great the 3DS creations can live on, but why can’t we pick from a pool of most popular Switch characters instead of only the old ones? No offense to them, but even the most creative Miis from back then look pretty sad compared to what I’ve picked up.
With my thumb hard on the fast forward button for most of my experience I rolled the credits within thirty two hours. The post game opens up new areas, side quests and challenging boss gauntlets to keep me going.
Miitopia relies on the Mii cast and their silly dynamics to carry you through largely basic gameplay, if Nintendo’s constant prompts to stop playing weren’t already a reminder this game is designed to be played in increments at a time. Taking it slow still won’t prevent you from realising how repetitive a playthrough can be. If you’ve played the original recently, I wouldn't suggest playing this port straight away, but for newcomers it is absolutely the best version, that I can definitely recommend it as a beginner friendly RPG. As a fan of the original I’m glad I got to play it again with much better visuals and fun new features, but they failed to tune some of the annoyances to make my jaunt more jolly.