Releasing demos is a double-edged sword. While a good one can mean a slight increase in sales, a bad one can have the opposite effect. It’s also rare to see them these days, due to the cost involved in their creation. However, there is one console where demos seem to thrive: the 3DS. Only a few weeks ago, Nintendo dropped one for Miitopia. After playing through the intro of the game I quickly became obsessed with its nearing release date.
Miitopia is a quirky turn-based RPG where every inhabitant of the world is pulled from an online collection of people’s Miis, created by yourself, or imported via Nintendo’s Mii QR Code system. It means that you can be the leader of your party, and any character from any TV show or movie can fight alongside you, and the big Dark Lord that claims the “final boss” moniker can be whoever you damn well please. It’s a unique way to present a game, and often the quirky interactions between characters somehow start to feel oddly true to their nature.
Your team makes their way across an over-world made up of points on a map. Each point involves a possibly branching path with random encounters and the occasional treasure chest. Each path ends with an inn where you can purchase new items for your team members, feed them to help build their stats, play some mini-games, build up their relationships, and give them much needed rest for their journey across Miitopia.
The demo showed a lot of promise when it came to the job system, the ability to unlock job specific abilities, having different skills depending on the temperament of each party member, and the vast map on display. The battles, while simplified (you only have control of the party leader) continued to entertain with different characters utilising humourous skills, and triggering small interactions based on their relationship levels. It’s a rare case of a demo going above and beyond to capture the gamer, and leave them wanting more.
The problem with Miitopia is that the fun doesn’t come from the gameplay. It comes from the party’s journey to defeat the Dark Lord, in seeing your Miis enjoy the new things you buy them, and in the many humorous moments of interaction along the way. The simplified nature of the gameplay is obvious from the start. At the beginning of every battle you have the option to turn on Auto Battle. While you might scoff at the idea, it only takes a couple of hours before it starts to look tempting. You only ever have control over one character, the fights are over rather quickly, and you’re holding the fast-forward button down to speed everything along anyway. Miitopia quickly becomes repetitive, and the drive to take every branch of every path just to see the completion flag for that point of the map starts to dwindle.
While Miitopia does manage to tick off everything the demo promised, it does so in the tamest way possible. There are more jobs to be used, but the lack of control over the majority of your party means that you take on the role of an observer instead of a player. You don’t get to strategise and figure out the best time to use each skill, you just watch and hope the A.I. gets it right. There’s plenty more of the world to see, and quirky stories to be told, but the repetitive nature of the game – with no further growth in gameplay – means you may not want to.
The story is key here, and it’s hard not to smile every single time there’s an interaction between Miis. Nintendo’s charm is all over Miitopia. The music is goofy, and the title screen with the singing is simply fantastic. The presentation and the ability to utilise any Mii imaginable is downright genius. I’m not sure if this is the perfect RPG for a very young gamer, or if it was designed for the gamers who enjoyed quirky, passive titles like Animal Crossing or Tomodachi Life. Whoever it was made for, it wasn’t made for those looking for a hardcore RPG.
Reagan received a digital copy of Miitopia from Nintendo for review.