Sarah’s Rating: 7/10
Developed and Published by Nintendo
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Fantasy, single player RPG
ESRB Rating: E (everyone)
*note All screenshots were taken from our gameplay
The happy land of Miitopia has a dark shadow looming over it. The Dark Lord has been stealing the faces of the citizens, and putting them on monsters. Its up to you to rescue the faces, return them to their owners, and stop the Dark Lord. Sounds like a happy story, right?
When the game was first shown at E3, I was intrigued by the coverage. Utilizing the Nintendo Mii avatars, this game gives you a chance to customize your entire game through your own Miis as well as uploaded ones available online. The Nintendo Miis have been around since 2006, when they were introduced with the Nintendo Wii. These little avatars have been used in many games as background and playable characters, but this was the first time I’d heard of them being used in a fantasy RPG.
Miitopia is an incredibly simple turn-based RPG. You choose a main Mii at the start, and that is the only character you get to control in game. You do get to build a team around your character, and choose each of those characters’ appearance, defining characteristic, and class. You are also able to assign a Mii of your choice to every character you encounter in the game, or arrange for the game to auto assign them at random. For example, my son chose to have the king of the land to be a Mii modeled after President Taft.
The gameplay consists of your party moving across the land collecting treasure and rescuing faces from the different regions of the world. While you travel you get to watch conversations between the characters, see skits, and visit inns. At each inn, you get to choose each Miis roommate, eat food you’ve collected on the journey, and give your Miis money out of your funds to go and buy new supplies they want (although they may change their mind and buy something completely different). At the inns, you can focus on growing and customizing your Mii’s stats through food, equipment, and by improving their friendships with their other party members.
Before deciding to play the game I did some research. I read a few reviews, and watched a few videos of gameplay on YouTube to give me an idea of what to expect. If you want to play a game with a young child it’s important to check and assess if you consider it appropriate for your child. I wanted to see how accessible the story was, as well as violence levels, and any other thematic issues. After some discussion, my husband and I decided to give it a go.
My son and I sat down and built Miis of our entire family, including cousins, grandparents, and aunts and uncles. This was a fun way to help him talk about his family and explain facial features, favorite colors, and differences in height and build.
So, we began the epic journey of the great hero “Daddy,” the laid-back warrior. Using our family as the team, we have had a lot of fun adding family members, giving them a character trait, and a job. For example, my son decided I was a cool “Chef,” (ehh, makes sense) and his younger brother was an energetic mage. We chose Miis built by other users to fill in the roles of townspeople and other characters.
We’d play a brief period before beginning our bedtime routine. It’s been shown repeatedly that the brain needs time away from blue light in order to have a healthy good night’s sleep, so we’d time our routine so that he had some special one on one time after his brother went to bed, and then the time he needed to shut down before going to sleep. We always set a specific, measurable goal which we could use to keep our game time approximately what we believed was appropriate.
My son’s favorite part of playing the game was visiting the inns and taking care of his team. He loved learning what foods each Mii liked, choosing the colors for their outfits, and helping them spend time together to build and improve their friendships. Since we were using characters from our own family it helped us talk about relationships, and how everyone in our family was related to the other.
Every game has some strengths and weaknesses and this game is no exception. Here is a summary of what I did and didn’t like about Miitopia.
- I have really enjoyed a lot of aspects of the story. This story focuses, in a rather silly way, on the importance of identity.
- I loved the customizable aspects of the game. We had so much fun casting the entire game. My son also had to practice explaining how he wanted to put things, or what he wanted to do.
- I liked how the character traits and the relationships between the characters benefitted the story. Its rewarding to be able to improve the story by putting work into the characters.
- The gameplay was very simple, making it easy for my son to grasp and participate. He had most of the control in this game.
- The plot has a lot of humor, and the fighting takes a backseat to the rest of the game. Fighting sections are short and cartoony, usually not even showing physical contact. My biggest concern with this game was violence and how it was portrayed. My husband and I agreed to observe how our son behaved and processed the game and pull the plug if we became concerned.
- While this game does have a lot of humor there are a lot of repeated gags, and they got old fast. One of the benefits of going through the game slower was that we could spread them out a bit.
- Like I said the gameplay was simple, but it was also very limiting. I have played a number of turn-based RPGs in my time, and I’ve never had the experience of only having control of one character before. This game is so story and humor driven that there was no thought given to allowing the player to strategize. Allowing the player to make the choices in battle for all the characters would have opened that door, and I believe would have made the game more fun.
- This game was fun because I played it with my son. The social aspect of the game was one of its greatest strengths, and it really irked me that they only made it as a single player, handheld game. I feel that opening it up to have options for online co-op, or local co-op on a larger console like the Switch, would have been fun for a family or group to play together. If you’re only going to let the player control one character, why not open the game to include more players? Plenty of games even allow you to temporarily switch to multiplayer and back again within the game, meaning you don’t even have to depend on multiplayer for an entire game.
Ultimately this is a very simple, silly story based game, more appropriate for children than adults. Not a terrible thing, but I wouldn’t recommend it to gamers looking for a challenge. I would have loved for the developers to take the game a step further in several areas, adding co-op or opening the controls more. But it did have a lot of enjoyable features and fun options to really make the story your own.
I especially appreciated how much it gave my son an opportunity to practice verbalizing what he wanted to do, or how he wanted to build the story. That is an important skill for toddlers to develop, and this was a fun way to encourage him to practice.
*This was not a sponsored review, this is just a game which we have played and enjoyed. Every single opinion in this review is mine. This post does contain affiliate links, which could earn me a small commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase one of the products in the links.
Want to read more about why we game with our son? And what sort of rules we have set up? Click here to read about what we’ve learned in our first year of gaming with a toddler.