First released on the 3DS a few years back, Miitopia was one of the games I would have never predicted would be ported over to Switch. Especially as Miis are all but absent from the new Nintendo console, aside from the odd title like Mario Kart or Smash Bros. However, I’m glad it made the leap personally, as it’s a really interesting experience.
Miitopia is a JRPG wrapped around the structure of something like Super Mario World and the simplicity of Mario Kart 8 with all the assists on. You control a protagonist of your own creation, recruited by a mysterious force to save the world of Miitopia. It’s a fairly simple game and a lot of the ‘playing’ is done for you, with auto-scrolling levels and a party that attacks automatically without you needing to (or being able to) control their actions.
Some of you reading this might be thinking that this sounds like baby’s first JRPG, and honestly, you’re not very far off the mark. I’ve got an 18-month-old son, and I would absolutely be happy sitting down to play Miitopia with him in a couple of years. There’s a lot of reading as none of the dialogue is voiced, but if you don’t mind reading to your child this would be an excellent early game for them to try.
Playing this game as an adult has a charm to it as well thanks to the Miis. You can assign Miis for every single member of Miitopia’s cast, from your party members through to all the NPCs in the towns you visit, and even the game’s big bad, the Dark Lord. I chose to populate the game with Mii recreations of friends and family, often grouping them by how I knew them. Friends I’d made through recording my podcast filled the castle and its court. Work colleagues from a previous job filled the desert town in the second chapter. My wife and son were cast as a mother and baby in the first town.
This made everything that happened in the game that much funnier, adding a new layer of humour to the already pun-filled script. Seeing my friend James fighting giant frogs dressed as a wizard, my podcast cohosts fighting over the love of a princess or my friend Dave cast as the Dark Lord never failed to make me smile. I’m not a big screenshot person, especially on Switch, but I have hundreds of snaps taken from my time with Miitopia. I regularly found myself taking photos of my Switch screen to quickly share a hilarious event with the person the character was modelled after.
If you play Miitopia, I would strongly recommend doing the same. It does have a huge cast so I struggled groups of friends to create and populate the world after the third chapter, but I never stopped laughing. Casting my old flatmate as a granny was a particular highlight.
Miitopia borrows a lot of the social interactions from fellow 3DS game Tomodachi Life. At the end of every adventure section you’ll come to an inn, and when you get there you choose which rooms your party members sleep in. Sleeping in a room together will bring your party members closer together – somewhat like what may or may not happen in real life. Levelling up a relationship allows more support actions in battles like healing each other or reversing a status effect. While in the inns you can also take characters out on little trips to coffee houses or cinemas or the beach. These give you a fun cutscene showing what the characters got up to, and I’ve not seen one repeat in the whole time I played the game which was pretty impressive.
The weakest part of Miitopia is honestly just the gameplay. The game consists of an overworld with circles on it that represent levels you can go into. Each level auto scrolls and your party will walk it until they either find something of note and a cutscene will play or a battle will break out. The battle system is very reminiscent of Dragon Quest, though as I said earlier you’re unable to direct the actions of your party. You can direct your character, but I chose not to outside of boss battles as the game is not much of a challenge and the AI controlling the party is able to win most fights.
It’s a pretty simple game, but I still very much enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I feel most activities take a little longer than they should and all are unskippable. The game does allow you to speed everything up by holding down the B button, but if you’re going to offer that, you probably know that the activities take too long and they could just be sped up a little or made skippable by default.
If you’re looking for a deep and tactical JRPG with an excellent story I might steer you towards Dragon Quest XI or Persona 5, but if you’re looking for a fun and simple JRPG with a good sense of humour you might like Miitopia.