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Review: Miitopia review – Nintendo makes the JRPG personal

Miitopia 3DS, thumbnail 1

Shigeru Miyamoto, Morgan Freeman, Snoop Dogg and I are on a hike through a beautiful but monster-filled meadow. Our next job is to win back Chuck Norris’s face, which was stolen by an evil demon.

Fortunately, the Mario creator is pretty handy with a magic wand. The stately actor, meanwhile, is something of an expert chef, while the ’90s rap sensation can gee the party up with his songs.

Freddy Mercury pops in from time to time to dispense sage advice, but we know precisely where we’re headed next – to a quaint little inn up ahead.

Miyamoto and I are bunking together, but I’m keen to improve my relationship with Mr. Freeman, so I might switch rooms. I do hope Miyamoto doesn’t get jealous.

This little scenario is Miitopia in a nutshell. It’s a little bit magical, a little bit funny, and a little bit weird.

JRP-Mii

Ostensibly, this is Nintendo’s take on the classic JRPG, but with Mii characters taking the lead. I mentioned that my party was made up of celebrities, but that needn’t be so for you.

I just so happened to go with some of the spookily accurate approximations of famous figures that are out there, but you could just as easily include the Mii creations of people you know in real life, or import them from Tomodachi Life.

Whoever you choose, you’ll be embarking on the same light-hearted adventure with them. After assigning members to a time-honoured JRPG job – sword-wielding knights, light-fingered thieves, healing priests and so on – you’ll set off auto-traveling along a path, with the odd optional split to negotiate.

Along the way you’ll enter random turn-based battles with small groups of critters, which play out like a simplified take on Dragon Quest or classic Final Fantasy.

Here you can opt to take direct control of your own Mii, or check a box to automate the fighting. Your team mates will act of their own accord regardless, so there really is little meaningful strategy to Miitopia‘s fights.

Party on

Indeed, while Miitopia has all the trappings of a traditional JRPG, it’s really more of a casual social game in the vein of the aforementioned Tomodachi Life. The onus is on developing the relationships between your team members and on looking after their various wants.

When you check into inns, you’ll have the chance to feed your team from the spoils of the preceding battles. Each team member has their own food likes and dislikes, which will affect how much of a stat boost they will receive from the evening’s feast.

Improving the relationship between team members will boost their performance in battle, opening up new cooperative moves and powerful joint attacks. It’ll also create cute team-bonding (or team-rending) vignettes during your automated travels.

Even acquiring new stat-boosting gear is done under the premise of giving your party members money to spend at the shops. Miitopia almost feels like a parenting simulator at times – minus the vomit and the misery and the terrible physical toll.

Pleasant journey

This being a Nintendo game, Miitopia’s adventure is always slick and fun and humorously written. There’s a surprising amount of joy to be had simply following the random babble that comes from your party as they scuttle through the game’s pleasant landscapes, even though they appear to come from a random sentence generator.

It’s a game that’s full of such content-free delights. But if you’re expecting any form of depth from Nintendo’s take on the JRPG, you’ll be disappointed. This is as light and fluffy as such games come.

Miitopia is a pleasant mish-mash of JRPG and casual social simulator elements, then, but its lack of any real gameplay heft means that it’s not one of Nintendo’s must-haves.