Welcome back to the Mobile Games Revue, where we subject the popular mobile games to a level of scrutiny they probably don’t deserve.* Last week we slew some dragons (or not) in I am a brave knight. This week, we’re gonna go hecka mainstream with Nintendo’s Miitomo.
Now, I never played Tomodachi Life, but even I can tell that the two have some things in common. You play as your Mii, and your friends’ Miis come over, which likely results in a ton of obnoxious in-jokes. The premise behind Miitomo is to get you to mix your favourite thing (talking about yourself) with your least favourite thing (listening to others talk about themselves). After setting up your Mii’s looks, voice, and personality, they’ll ask you a few preliminary questions about yourself, which they will then blab to all of your friends.
The Mii creation is about as robust as it is on the Wii or 3DS, although you can’t have unnaturally colored hair, and adds voice customization (please don’t add too much accent? because it adds an upward inflection? to the end of every sentence? making it sound like you’re constantly questioning?). Oh, yeah, your Mii talks. It’s a step up from the stock windows text to speech, but it’s no Siri.
Miitomo has a currency, surprisingly called Miitomo coins, which can be earned in several ways: mostly, just by playing the game. Logging in, listening to answers, giving answers, liking or commenting on answers, taking pictures, etc etc. Miitomo coins are spent either on the minigames or on outfits.
You can purchase outfits from the Shop tab, and change between your bought pieces by tapping on your Mii. You can also unlock special limited-time wardrobe items using the Mii Drop minigame – which is sort of like pachinko: you release the Mii from the top of the board, and wherever it lands, that’s the prize you get. The themes for the items at launch include baked good and cats, which is so targeted to my interest that I am a little concerned that Nintendo has been spying on me.
Every time you customize your outfit, it prompts you to take a Miifoto. This is arguably the most fun part of the game, so far. You can customize your (and up to 5 others’) pose, your facial expression(s), your background (including photos in your photo roll), and add stickers or frames. These photos, much like everything else in the game, will be shared with friends, and can be posted to any linked social media accounts.
Which brings me to the next order of business, which is that this is an inherently social game. If you want to make friends, your best bet is to have at least one social media account. You can add people from Facebook, Twitter, or ad-hoc (people around you in real life), but regardless, you need friends in order to get basically any enjoyment out of the game. It is also more fun with people you know well, as you will be prompted to answer questions about your friends (“Who is my celebrity crush?” or “What is my favourite food?”). There are only so many times you can put in “Paul Giamatti” as a joke answer before it starts getting old. This, compounded with the fact that the more friends you have added, the more people you suddenly have to hear everything about, will likely become overwhelming. Personally, I intend to keep my friend list relatively small, so that I don’t get oversaturated with what a bunch of strangers think about bread.
To its credit, the game does not have a chat filter (although it allows for posts to be flagged as inappropriate). This is beneficial to people who, like me, are still amused by hearing robot voices cursing. I do wonder how long it will take before the whole game devolves into smut…but maybe that’s just my friends group.
As to the game as a game:
The gameplay is straightforward and effective (albeit not action-packed). The menus are simple but surprisingly difficult to navigate. Recent and My Answers share a lot of function (although are understandably separate). Shop is pretty self-explanatory. But then there’s Menu…which is all of the above, plus a bunch of other stuff. It’s not the end of the world, but it is a little convoluted, when they could have just put a single Menu button in the corner that contained everything.
The graphics are what I have learned to expect from Nintendo’s simulation games: simplistic, but solid. The music is fun and upbeat, and honestly, wouldn’t sound out of place in a Katamari game (high praise, coming from me). The voices are a nice touch, but can get annoying quickly (looking at you, friend who made their voice the highest possible pitch).
As a game, Miitomo is fun for now. I do question its replayability factor: I would be surprised if I got more than 10 hours of playtime out of it, simply because of its one-trick-pony nature. But there will doubtlessly be others who will find ways to keep it fresh and exciting throughout its lifetime.
*Oh, sorry, that’s Overthinking It.