Review: Miitomo (iOS/Android)

Nintendo has finally dipped its toe into the waters beyond the borders of its own hardware!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 04/20/2016 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Solid interface; daily rewards, both of in-game currency and Platinum Points; funny as heck; melting pot of various social networks makes it easy to find and add friends; charming in its simplicity and execution
Poison Mushroom for...
Entirely based on social interaction, so those without many friends or an interest in interacting with others will be left out; in-app purchases aren't too omnipresent, but the game could stand to be a little less stingy with Miitomo Drop

Miitomo is already a source of curiosity for being the first Nintendo-developed title to be released on iOS and Android platforms, but it’s also notable for not being a true “game” in the traditional sense. There are no high scores to beat, no real controls to master; instead, Miitomo is dedicated to social interactions with fellow users of the game and changing clothing. Outside of a minigame to partake in to earn new clothes and items, the bulk of Miitomo’s gameplay occurs through a series of menus. If that doesn’t sound especially exciting, it would be understandable, because in many ways Miitomo is a lot like 2013’s 3DS release Tomodachi Life. Like that game, Miitomo is a niche title that either will or will not click with gamers depending on their tastes. I walked away from Tomodachi Life quite impressed back when I reviewed it, and in many ways I am similarly happy with Miitomo. It’s an imperfect inaugural mobile outing for Nintendo, but it’s fun and worthwhile for what it is.

The game opens with players creating their Mii avatar and general profile. Again, Miitomo draws heavily from Tomodachi Life; the Mii avatar is customizable down to its voice, and the ability to choose and customize clothing is the same, too. Where Miitomo stands apart is that the experience is much more simplified by comparison. There are no multiple apartments to visit, and there’s no customizing the lone living space player’s are afforded, either. It also is not possible to create Miis outside of the player avatar. It’s here that Miitomo will likely present its biggest obstacle to players, as the only way to get other Miis to interact with is either to meet other users in person or connect through social media. For those inclined to single-player experiences, Miitomo is going to be downright useless.

For those who do have access to other players, congratulations, because Miitmo officially becomes awesome at that point. The bulk of the game is about answering questions for your friends to read. The variety of the questions is pretty diverse, with everything from basic questions like “what did you do over the weekend?” to “what was the most emotional thing that happened to you lately?” There are a handful of ways to initiate the chance to answer questions: one is tap on the face of the player avatar and begin answering questions at random. Another is to tap the thought bubble near the Mii’s head and begin listening to the answers that friends have given to their own questions. It’s here that the player can then begin making responses to their friends’ responses, and mayhem (of the good kind!) ensues.

Every bit of text that players type into the game is voiced by their Mii, including curse words. It was as odd as it was hilarious to see my friends’ and my own Mii uttering the most outrageous of sentences in the computerized voices that the game has available, but it was also refreshing; Nintendo tends to be very restrictive when it comes to social interaction in any of its games, so to see the company relax a bit knowing full well that players can only interact with their friends in Miitomo was a sign to me that the company understands that the rules of the mobile sandbox are a bit different than the ones that govern dedicated gaming systems. This is especially evident in how the game metes out rewards for playing each day, as well as how Platinum Points (which we went over here) are incorporated into the experience. Miitomo is its own standalone game, but it also acts a gateway into the world of Nintendo beyond. It’s nothing obnoxious or too in-your-face, making it a good way to indoctrinate new Nintendo fans into the fold and, hopefully, the wider world of home and portable consoles that the company offers. For those already entrenched in the House of Mario, however, accumulating Platinum Points and other rewards is just icing on the cake.

Miitomo is free to download, but as is the case with such games, there are optional in-app transactions for those who are so inclined. The game’s currency is gold coins, which are rewarded for answering questions, reading responses, as daily bonuses, and other ways besides. The money can then be used to buy new articles of clothing and games of Miitomo Drop. Miitomo Drop is a very simple arcade-style game where the player drops Miis to try and make them land on platforms with items to collect. These items are exclusive to Miitomo Drop and not available in the main shop where other clothes and accessories are sold. Along with gold, players can expend game tickets (which are also awarded at random through gameplay) to play Miitomo Drop, but for those with an itch to “catch ’em all,” it will be very, very difficult to do so without breaking down and spending real-world cash on Mittomo’s in-game currency. Miitomo Drop itself is ruthlessly finicky, with bumpers that send the Miis cascading seemingly everywhere but where the player wants them to go. Thankfully, Miitomo can be played without indulging in any of these side antics, or at the very least can be dabbled with here and there when enough coins and tickets have been accumulated freely, but keep in mind that the game will try to take at least a little bit of money from the average player.

Miitomo is easily worth a look if for no other reason than to experience the novelty of playing a Nintendo-made game on another company’s hardware. It’s production values aren’t anything to write home about, employing the bright, cheerful look and tunes of Mii games that originated all the way back with Wii Sports on Wii. The interface is easy to learn and use, and answering questions and putting together new outfits can quickly become addicting. It’s been a great deal of fun for me connecting with friends and family using the game, but it’s here that some players might hit a wall, as with no one to play with, Miitomo will feel very empty and unsatisfying. It’s a social experience more than a true game, but like Tomodachi Life, Miitomo is aware that it’s a niche game and wears its quirkiness proudly on its sleeve. There’s plenty of incentive to check in daily to earn Platinum Points for those looking to snag rewards from My Nintendo, but I highly recommend people give this one a download simply to try something different. There are plenty of endless runners and match-three puzzlers on the iOS and Android marketplaces; Miitomo is unique, which I’d expect no less from Nintendo.

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