Miitopia is Nintendo’s next first party game that’s making the leap from the 3DS to the Nintendo Switch. As a game we originally missed out on and didn’t play until later, we couldn’t wait to try it out on the Switch.
Of course one of the reasons that many people missed out on the 3DS version of Miitopia was that it was released very late in the handheld’s lifecycle, a few months after the Switch had launched in 2017. Combine that with a lukewarm critical reception, and you’ve got a title that not enough people enjoyed despite a few fun ideas that were brought to the table. Now, with the Switch’s popularity still sky high, it’s getting a second lease on life.
One of the biggest hooks of Miitopia is how it implements your own Mii avatars (those little representations of yourself that are tied to your profile) in the game. This was already in the 3DS version, but the Switch version features a lot more in the way of character customization options, letting you personalize your character to resemble you as much as you can or letting you be someone else entirely.
The narrative plot takes you through a story campaign that’s much larger than you’d initially think, as your little Mii gets attacked by the Dark Lord – who goes on to steal people’s faces inside a magical kingdom. As you gain powers and abilities, you’ll set out to meet companions, lose them, save them and team up to fight back against the main antagonist – who ends up not being what you thought he was. Despite looking like a handheld game that thrives on its Mii mechanic, this is a fully featured RPG that will take over 20 hours to complete – likely more on an initial playthrough.
The gameplay is very reminiscent of other RPGs, though simplified in this case. You’ve got all your basic genre tropes in the character types that your fellow Mii’s represent, so assembling a team where one’s ranged magic complements the other’s defensive skills is important. Combat is turn-based, and simplified in the sense that you only control your main character.
That doesn’t mean that team dynamics don’t factor in, but they mostly occur at other moments. Your Mii buddies become closer friends at the inns you encounter, and boosting their friendship unlocks abilities that you can use in combat. Since all of these are roughly or directly built upon the notions of trust and cooperation, it’s a great dynamic to see unfold.
Miitopia wasn’t the most visually ambitious title on the 3DS, and it certainly doesn’t push the Switch to its limits either. The main draw, visually speaking, is the ability to customize the look and feel of almost all of the in-game characters – which is great fun if you want to put in people you know and love (or don’t love, depending on who you’re trying to create). This isn’t a necessity as you can just go with predefined faces, but it’s a level of personalization rarely seen in an RPG. And although the backdrops often look uninspired, betraying the game’s humble 3DS origins, the Mii characters themselves look great.
The social aspects of the game, where you take care of your Mii and its friends by feeding, resting and entertaining them, definitely make this an acquired taste. If you enjoy a relatively straightforward RPG experience with a smidge of The Sims thrown in, then Miitopia could very well be exactly what you want. For anyone else this is a solid RPG, but not one that will light your world on fire.