Miitopia, a clever play on the word utopia. The word, which isn’t as often used as its antonym, distopia, is a place that is near perfect in all aspects. I’m not sure it’s the word I’d use to describe Miitopia though. It would probably require its own word, and I’m not that good making up new words. Using the words I do know, I’d call it random, plain ol’ random.
A faceless welcome
What’s a random world without a random hero? Most RPGs these days include elaborate character creation menus with hundreds of options to change your eyes, ears and nose. Miitopia throws that straight out the window preferring to use their simple Mii Characters. The Nintendo characters that you create as part of your profile can join in the fun, similarly to the game Tomodachi Life.
Once imported, you’ll be thrust into the world and facing off against the malicious Dark Lord who wants to raise an army of monsters. How he plans to do that is the weird part. To strengthen the monsters, he steals the faces of innocent (and not so innocent) Miis from all over the world. To beat the Dark Lord, you must gather a band of warriors and smite all the monsters in your path, returning the faces to their rightful owners.
To do your job, you’ll have to select what kind of hero you’ll want to be. There are quite a few job classes to choose from, such as the standard Thief, Mage and Warrior to the not-so-normal Cat, Chef and Flower. There are 12 classes to choose from and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Accompanying that is your personality, which does play a significant part in battle. For example, my main character has a kind personality, so he often shared recovery food or took damage for another character. My mage (No Face from Spirited Away) has a cautious nature and would occasionally stretch in battle to improve the power of his next move.
Fighting isn’t the strongest suit in the game
A big drawback for me was the weak RPG action in the game. While there are plenty of job classes, there isn’t a whole lot to do in a fight. Despite having a team of four, the only person you can control in battle is your main hero. The rest are AI controlled, and don’t always make the smartest choices. You can switch the battle to auto mode, meaning you won’t even have to do anything. Other than that, the only real part of the battle you control is the distribution of sprinkles. These little bottles will be unlocked during the course of the game and each have a purpose. Think of the sprinkles pouch as an inventory, it has a healing sprinkle, MP sprinkle, Life sprinkle, etc, and only you have access to the bag. There’s really not much to do in a fight. This kind of defeats the purpose of the RPG and makes the game and the fighting repetitive and boring.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the level and world design is just as boring and uninspired. While I think the locations are colourful and cheerful, nothing stands out or is remarkably memorable. It’s also very automatic, you select a new level and walk through the level automatically only choosing the direction you want to go when the path splits. Now and again a random battle will occur or you’ll encounter a treasure chest. One of either of those will happen about 2 – 3 times per level and then you’ll end up at an inn for a night’s rest. It’s painfully linear and unfortunate given how much I enjoy the next bit.
When life takes over
What I absolutely adored in this game was the life simulator angle. Once the fighting is over, you’ll end up at an inn where your characters can spend time with each other, eat and buy new gear. When two characters share the same room, their affinity for each other increases. The higher the level, the more efficient they’ll be in combat together. Sometimes they’ll even have short, comedic dialogues with each other, which really brings them to life. This budding friendship isn’t just for show either, you’ll learn new tricks, like showing off to your friend by inflicting more damage, covering for them, or getting revenge if a monster K.O.s them. It’s not all good though, as you’ll need to deal with a range of emotions, specifically jealousy. Whenever there’s a ‘friendship’ triangle, things can get complicated and feuds can start. This, in turn, causes problems in battle, like companions interrupting each other, distracting them or just being plain nasty. It’s clever, but can be easily fixed with certain skills found later in the game.
It’s not all good though, as you’ll need to deal with a range of emotions, specifically jealousy.
Was the journey worth it?
Friendships and fighting aside, the game is a fairly lengthy one. I wasn’t expecting it to be same length of time as a standard RPG, but this is well over 25 hours. I haven’t finished the game yet, but I’m in the final dungeon area and have covered a lot of the game. The scenery is very creative, but doesn’t push the visuals very far. Without it’s flair for uniqueness, like have an orange juice volcano, it would look basic. What was a delight was the music and sounds. There’s one for every mood and place, and they’re all easy on the ears.
Miitopia is, in a nutshell, a very random game. It’s creative, unique and at times very entertaining. It falls short as an RPG as it’s too linear and relies a little too much on AI to do the fighting for you, a bit like Final Fantasy XIII [Ed: *head explodes*]. The relationships are what carries this game and the little spontaneous moments between party members. The fact that you can pretty much create all of the characters you meet is also another plus – I had Homer Simpson as a King and Jack Black as a wandering Sage. If you’ve enjoyed Tomodachi Life and you’re a Nintendo fan, then Miitopia may be up your alley.