For those of you who don’t know, I’m a big fan of Rpgs. I’ve been playing them since I was a small lad and I’ve invested more time in them than any other game genre. Enter Nintendo’s latest attempt to make Miis relevant, the RPG Miitopia.
We open with our first mii, who is just a random traveller. They arrive in town and talk to people when the Dark Lord descends and steals faces from most of the townspeople. Our hero goes out to retrieve them and is visited by the voice of god, who gives them a class and abilities. To start out with, you can choose from Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, Mage, Pop Star or Chef but you get more as you progress. Three other adventurers join you and you go on a quest to stop the Dark Lord from stealing faces like a total wanker.
The story is very basic. Which isn’t bad, given that this is basically set up as an early RPG for youngsters. What is a problem is that it gets repetitive. There’s a pattern where you start alone, get your companions joining you one at a time at the conveniently placed Inns and then you chase after the Dark Lord until he unleashes something powerful. Then, once you’ve accomplished something by beating that, he captures your companions and you start back at level one and have to pick a new class. This plot point is repeated twice, thrice if you count the final time where he takes your companions but doesn’t seal your class, with your original character ultimately travelling with three different groups.
Here’s another issue with Miitopia. With most RPGs you’ll get a group of defined characters with their own personalities. Even if you create the main lead, as you do in the Fallout games or Knights of the Old Republic, you generally get defined companion characters and choices with your lead to give them a sense of character. In this, you assign every random role to Miis that you’ve made or you can pick one that someone else has made. And the “characterisation” consists of picking from a list of seven personality types: Cool, Kind, Stubborn, Air-headed, Cautious, Energetic or Laid Back. And their effects are largely shown through quirks in combat. For instance, a stubborn character might attack a second time, defend against incoming attacks or refuse to let themselves be healed. There’s no connection to the narrative.
Character relationships are similarly unimportant. You build up your Miis relationships by having them room together. Which doesn’t serve the plot whatsoever, but does unlock behaviours in combat. Such as the ability to help an ally attack, perform a pincer attack rise up and avenge a fallen ally, take a hit for an ally and others. Your Miis can also end p in a quarrel, which causes problems when they’re together in battle. Which makes the Pop Star super useful since they have a class ability that instantly ends quarrels.
I’ve already discussed the personality system a bit. But I do want to add that I do like the idea behind it. I do like the idea of your characters building relationships and having quirks that affect their performances in combat. I just think it could stand to be more robust. As it stands, other RPGs have had systems where party members build relationships with actual characters that impact their combat performances and they’ve worked better. The Neptunia franchise and the bonuses you get from raising your Lily ranks comes to mind. For that matter, Fire Emblem gives you increased bonuses when two characters with higher support ranks work together.
The gameplay, overall, is pretty basic but kind of addictive. You basically have an over-world where you move from stage to stage. You go through a stage, possibly encountering monsters and random events or treasures, choose from branching paths and eventually arrive at the Inn and move on to the next. Or you can go back and check the path you didn’t take.
In combat, you’ll get to select the actions of your main Mii. The others will act independently. Actually, here’s something I have to praise Miitopia or. As a rule, the AI is really good about taking actions that make a lot of sense. It’s very rare for them to make a move that’s just a bad idea. Usually they make moves that are pretty optimal. Which is nice when you compare it to the AI in a lot of games where you basically have to babysit your party because they royally screw up otherwise.
I also do like the class system. I like that you’ve got your kind of standard classes but there are some strange classes in this. I’ve already mentioned Pop Star & Cook but later on you also get Imp, Scientist, Cat, Tank, Flower & Princess. It’s interesting trying different ones and seeing how their abilities work. I also like that you can change how your Mii looks so that if you get stronger armour, but it looks awful, you can make it look like your older armour while keeping the increased stats. And there are some absolutely terrible looking pieces of armour in this. The “Macho” equipment, for example.
One thing that is annoying about the classes is that some of them get abilities that damage their relationships and can cause quarrels. The Cook can feed everyone spicy dishes to make them breathe fire, which makes everyone mad and the Tank can shoot one of their companions at an enemy. Which the companion is not going to like.
But that brings me to the shopping situation. Shopping in Miitopia is a pain in the arse. What happens is you have to wait until your Mii wants new equipment and you have the money for it. Then you give them the money and they go off to buy the next upgrade for either their weapon or armour. And there’s a chance they might return with a healing item instead. In which case they return the extra gold and you have to wait until the next time they want their upgrade or until you find it in a treasure chest. It gets incredibly frustrating when you’re sending the same Mii to buy the same armour you’ve sent them to buy twice before only to have them come back with candy like a small child with no impulse control.
Although, speaking of the candy, I do like that you keep the same restorative items throughout the game but they upgrade after you use enough of them. It does get a little tiring in other RPGs when you have an inventory full of a hundred types of healing items and some are useless because you’ve far outgrown them. This is an elegant solution.
The game is very easy and not all that long, when compared to most other RPGs. You have a safe spot that heals status ailments, sprinkles that restore HP, MP, grant a free revive (one only), shield you from damage and can grant a berserk status effect for your Miis, although they don’t call it that. You also have the ever upgrading HP bananas & MP candies. If you have any healer, Cleric, Cook or Flower, in your party it’s going to be easy to not have your party wiped out. The only times I ever had trouble were when I encountered these shadowy imps who have an instant kill attack. Even then they became easy to handle once I got the shield sprinkles.
I’m not super fond of the artwork in this. I don’t really like the whole Mii aesthetic and the game is very much built around that. I do like the super sentai-inspired armour you get for the characters and there are other interesting looking armour and weapons here and there.
The music composition is quite nice. I liked hearing the new tracks when I got to different areas. The squeaking sound of Miis talking, in contrast, gets a bit grating after a while.
In terms of simple, introductory RPGs for younger audiences, Miitopia does its job really well. In terms of appeal for your more serious RPG fans, I don’t know that it has it. The very basic plot, non-characters & lack of difficulty are probably going to be a problem for your more seasoned veterans. It’s still a bit of a laugh to play around with and I would like to see a sequel that better refines its better ideas but, now that I’ve beaten the Darker Lord, I’ll probably erase my data and give it to my little niece instead of doing the post game stuff. For myself, the final rating is going to be a 6/10. It’s okay.