Bottom line: This Nintendo Switch port gives people the chance to experience a great RPG that they may have missed. Its silly nature is refreshing after so many serious JRPGs, but the world is lacking and the way that the game teaches you how to use new jobs can come off as a bit aggressive.
Stellar makeup customization
Adorable, funny dialogue
Pleasant culinary experiences
Lack of diversity in wig customization
Uninteresting world traversal
Lack of investment in jobs
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Miitopia is an endearing JRPG that takes what Tomodachi Life on the Nintendo 3DS did and makes it more interactive. Originally released on the 3DS, Miitopia initially missed out on the spotlight it may have received due to the release of the Nintendo Switch.
The RPG is centered around the Mii, Nintendo's answer to personal avatars, and players are encouraged to create the entire cast of the RPG with any Miis of their choice. From party members, to the antagonist, to the NPCs you meet along the way, each person's experience in Miitopia is completely unique. The personality system lets party members influence relationships and by extension, the story, allowing players to make their adventures as serious or absurd as they'd like to.
The Dark Lord of your choice swoops down on the land of Miitopia and steals the faces of Miis across the land, placing these poor faces on monsters. It's up to you and your party members of your choosing to defeat these monsters and return faces to their rightful Miis in order to save the world. The story is nothing that will win a Pulitzer Prize, but the game's focus is not on the narrative so much as on the relationships built along the way.
Miitopia (Nintendo Switch) review What I like
Makeup customization Be who you want to be
|Release Date||May 21, 2021|
|Launch Price||$50 (opens in new tab)|
Miitopia's focus is on the ability to create any person you want to star in your adventure. Whether you want your mom to be the party cleric, your partner to be the warrior, or your annoying sixth grade teacher to star as the Dark Lord, the entire cast is up to you.
While the Nintendo 3DS version of the game only offered the basic Mii Maker as a means to customize your party's looks, Miitopia on the Nintendo Switch ramps the face customization up to 11. New eyebrows, contact lenses, freckles, and lipstick are only the beginning. Players can entirely change skin tone and use various stickers to create amazing Miis from all corners of pop culture.
The humour Laughing all the way to the inn
This game is absolutely hilarious. Whether your party members are friends, family, or random video game characters, it's super charming to see them interact, form relationships, and quarrel. The game greatly encourages players to build relationships between Miis (and your party's horse) by placing them in the same room at inns and going on outings or Jolly Jaunt trips.
The more these relationships develop, the more they interact, and it's both endearing and amusing. Miis will often request to hang out with each other, give each other silly gifts, exercise together or gossip. The personalities you assign to your party members also play a part in how their relationships develop. Kind Miis may share snacks which raises affection, while laid-back Miis might throw others under the bus, raising resentment and resulting in a quarrel. Your Miis become fleshed-out people who are all part of the funniest ant farm I've ever seen.
Miis and grub Find a Mii's heart through their stomach
What sets JRPGs apart from Western RPGs is the focus on stats. Miitopia figures out how to do this in a way that's cute, accessible, and friendly for all ages. After defeating monsters, they often drop monster-specific food, or "grub". Before leaving the inn, players can feed grub to their Miis, with the incentive being that each food item raises one or more of the six stats: HP, MP, Attack, Magic, Defense, and Speed.
However, it's important to try different foods to see what your Miis like and dislike. Beloved foods increase stats more than normal, while hated foods do the opposite. Seeing my Miis express themselves through their tastes, even begging for certain foods, really made me smile. Grub can also be used to help certain Miis in areas that they lack. Some Miitopia jobs, like Cleric, don't have a very high attack stat. Players can use grub to balance this out and make their Miis more well-rounded, or turn them into tanks. It's just another clever method that Nintendo developed to make each playthrough unique.
Miitopia (Nintendo Switch) review What I don't like
Lackluster wigs Falling flat
Nintendo did not add much to this port of Miitopia, and that's fine. The new additions were outings, the horse, makeup, and wigs. Miitopia wasn't exactly a game that needed revolutionizing so it wasn't an issue for me. However, I did take issue with how the wigs they chose to implement were half-baked. I take diversity in character customization seriously and while I did find the makeup aspect great, the wigs were severely lacking. There were no curls to be seen in these hairstyles beyond gentle waves, for example.
When I first saw that this game was getting even more customization option, I was incredibly excited because I thought that I'd be able to make a Mii that really looked like myself and my friends. Playing both the demo and the full game made me feel crestfallen upon finding out that I would need to stick to the flat Mii Maker hairstyles if I wanted to roleplay. Feeling excluded is never nice, and it's disappointing to see such little effort go into a feature that they explicitly decided to create for this game.
Uninteresting world traversal Speed it up, please
One thing I would have liked to see improve is world traversal. The world is comprised of worlds and stages, like Super Mario Bros. 3, with each stage containing enemies to fight or treasure to find. The party runs through the stages automatically, with the player having little agency outside of what path to go down. All of the stages in each world look alike, with the background only changing from world to world. Many are unnecessarily long and uninteresting, so much so that I often found myself leaving the game to play itself while doing something else.
Not only did I not have much agency outside of the random events scattered throughout the worlds, but the whole game felt slow. Pressing the B button sped things up, but there was no option to leave the game on the higher speed by default. If I have to clamp my thumb down on the B button for the entire game, maybe the game is running too slowly. I wished I could explore, find secrets, or make my world traversal as unique as my party of Miis.
Forced job changes I'm not invested
Possibly the most annoying aspect is that the game prevents players from getting too invested in their jobs. I don't want to spoil too much, but let's just say that at several points in the game, you're forced to try out new jobs. After getting comfortable with my initial job of Thief (and more importantly, spending all that gold on gear), I had to start all over and gain new skills for a new job.
While I admire the game wanting players to broaden their horizons, I believe that agency is the most important thing in a game. In light of this remaster, I believe players should have been given the choice to change their job during these events, especially since the change only happens one at a time. For players who didn't like the jobs they were forced to try out, I could see this event significantly diminishing their enjoyment of the game.
Miitopia (Nintendo Switch) review Should you buy?
Despite its issues, Miitopia is an adorable RPG that's great to play at the same time as others. My friends and I are having a great time comparing our Miis' interactions with each other, and laughing at how silly the grub, weapons and armor are. It's a lighthearted game that takes a much-needed break from more serious RPG conventions, but I wish Nintendo had taken more time to make this version the definitive one. Are there better Switch games? Sure, but if you find this on sale, you'll have a great time.
An adventure with your friends
Save the world, one face at a time
If you want all the gameplay of a JRPG but without the tedious and confusing story, this is the game for you. Players can build their own cast of characters and embark on a journey to save the world, all while building bonds with their party members.
Nadine is a freelance writer for iMore with a specialty in all things Nintendo, often working on news, guides, reviews, and editorials. She's been a huge Nintendo fan ever since she got to pet her very own Nintendog, and enjoys looking at Nintendo's place in the video game industry. Writing is her passion, but she mostly does it so that she can pay off her ever-growing debt to Tom Nook. Her favorite genres are simulation games, rhythm games, visual novels, and platformers. You can find her at @stopthenadness on Twitter, where she'll more than likely be reposting cute Animal Crossing content.
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