Miitopia Review: Nintendo's Bizarre RPG Returns
In the Nintendo Switch era, a number of older first-party games have gotten a second chance at finding a fan base, including Super Mario 3D World, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Miitopia is the latest Nintendo-published game ported to the platform, and it just might provide the bizarre RPG the perfect place to thrive. The game is unquestionably unusual, but that's a big part of its charm, and Nintendo fans that didn't check out the game when it first released on 3DS back in 2016 might want to give it a try this time around.
In Miitopia, players are introduced to a world filled with Miis, the popular avatars introduced on Nintendo Wii. When starting the game, players are immediately prompted to create a main character using Miitopia's Mii Maker, as well as several other characters that will appear during the adventure. Creative players will find that the Mii Maker offers a much more elaborate creation tool than the one offered on the console itself, and there's a lot of freedom to come up with some interesting characters.
If Nintendo just left players to their own devices, the game would alienate a huge chunk of Miitopia's potential players. Fortunately, the company has made it incredibly easy to create and share designs on social media. Not a very creative person? Do a search for "Miitopia" on Twitter and you'll find hundreds of character designs that have been shared online, covering nearly every franchise in popular culture. In a stroke of genius, Nintendo released a demo prior to the game's release, ensuring that there were a lot of Mii designs available at launch.
This is where the magic really begins. Miitopia's plot isn't a very serious one: a dark lord has come to the land of Miitopia and he's stealing the faces of its citizens. As the hero, you'll have to save these faces, which are now being worn by his minions. Players can create generic Miis for the roles, and that's fine, but the more you lean into the game's absurdity, the more fun you'll have. Why have a party with some generic characters when you can use Mr. Mime, a Sonic Popsicle, and Urbosa from Breath of the Wild? What if the game's great sage is Spider-Man? What if Venom is the town elder? What if that bickering couple is Team Rocket's Jessie and James? It's all ridiculous, and the game's nonsensical storyline outright encourages players to make it silly. It also gives players a great excuse to come back to the game multiple times.
At its core, Miitopia is a turn-based RPG. Players choose from a variety of different classes for their characters which decide what abilities they learn on their journey. Rather than an open-world map, Miitopia features an arching overworld similar to games like Super Mario Bros. 3. The player selects a location on the map, and the party will set off. The characters then wander around for a bit, propelled on their own, encountering groups of foes. After a few enemy encounters, players will find an Inn where they can get their characters some rest. Different characters can bunk together, which helps them grow closer bonds and work better in battle. It's also important to change the bunking arrangements around, because party members that don't care for each other can also hurt one another in battle.
Unfortunately, Miitopia's gameplay can get a little tedious at times. It's a fun game, but the cycle of "beat some foes, find an Inn, rinse, repeat" can make some sections of the game drag. Thankfully, players can speed up some slower sections of the game using the "ZR" button. Battles in the game are also a bit on the easier side. There are some segments that are a little more difficult than others, but if players are good about managing their team's personalities and classes, they'll find that they won't run into too many difficulties.
The game's presentation is well done. Miitopia isn't exactly a showpiece for the Switch hardware, but the game looks good enough that newcomers might not realize it originated on 3DS. The game's audio is also strong, with some great tracks that will unquestionably stick around long after the system has been turned off. Some of these tracks evoke classic Nintendo games, including Splatoon and Super Mario Bros. 3. I'm not sure if this was a conscious decision or not, but given the mash-up of characters I used throughout my journey, it kind of made sense.
One of Miitopia's new additions on Nintendo Switch is a horse that players can use in combat. The horse basically functions as a fifth member of the party, occasionally allowing party members that it bonds with to ride on it and attack enemies. Like the game's Miis, there's a strong amount of customization options for the horse, allowing players to customize it as they see fit. It's not a massive addition, but the horse is well-integrated into the game, and it doesn't feel like it was added as an afterthought.
The reason RPGs first hooked me as a kid is because they always felt like they were my journey. There was something really charming about being able to name your character after yourself and feel like your decisions had an impact on the experience. Miitopia is a perfect evolution of that concept, giving players the freedom to make an experience that's truly unique to them. It can drag at times, and die-hard RPG fans will likely scoff at the difficulty level, but it perfectly distills that core appeal of the genre in a way that really works. Miitopia is whatever you want it to be, and if you're willing to lean into the absurdity, you'll love the ride.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Miitopia is now available on Nintendo Switch. The game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and it was reviewed on a base model Nintendo Switch.0comments