Did you know that Daze had Pepperoni Pizza for dinner last night? Andrew got a SNES for his birthday with Super Mario World. Aaron just finished rewatching Rick and Morty and thinks everyone should watch it. The furthest place Tina has been to is Thailand. Joseph is admittedly quite bad at golf, but he’ll try it again one day. Can you believe that Holly has 8 siblings? Kaylo’s favourite thing about dogs is their compassionate nature. Brian just wants somebody to love him. Awww.
This is Miitomo and I’ve been using it every night for the past two weeks. I added a whole bunch of friends from Twitter and it’s been a lot of fun sharing the experience together. I’ve gotten to know more about people, gotten closer to friends, learned a few interesting things, shared stuff about myself, and just had a lot of laughs. Miitomo is a free app for iOS and Android that came out at the end of March. I think it’s a lot of fun, but not in the same way traditional games are.
This is not a typical Nintendo “game”, but an app that takes full advantage of the fact that you are using a phone. It’s basically a fun thing to check while you’re killing time, because it will never give you bad news. There is a positive vibe all throughout the app just because of the silly nature of Miis. You could type a really angry serious response to something, and the Mii’s face would go red with a teapot sound effect and it’s the funniest thing in the world. Miis seem to understand key words like surprised, happy, sad and just act accordingly with a wide variety of expressions. This is also narrated by a voice of your choosing, with settings for a bunch of different voice tones. The automated text-to-speech voice makes answers really entertaining with its naive, indifferent manner. It sounds a bit weird but it’s very clear. There’s almost no barrier for this thing, as it’ll try its best to pronounce butchered words and swear without a care. It’s hilarious how indifferent and “proper” it tries to be. The most boring answers in the world sound interesting in Miitomo. At one point I started reading everything on the internet in the Miitomo voice and couldn’t stop laughing.
The “gameplay” of Miitomo is reading your friends answers, commenting on them, and answering questions yourself. You can dress your Mii up and take photos of it, and then choose to share those as well. The answers are basically a way for your Mii to express itself. It’s a fun, light-hearted way to communicate your personality without it seeming forced or unnatural. If you just blurt out your favourite album without context, it’s a bit like a statement. When you’re answering a question in Miitomo however, it’s just part of the game and you gave somebody something to read.
You can see friends answers just by hanging out in your house and tapping the thought bubble that appears over your head. It’s a pretty good way to catch up on the last day because it cycles through what’s been happening lately with different people. If you want to get more answers you can go to your friends homes and feed them candy.
Your Mii has an interesting role in Miitomo. Rather than the app pretend the Mii is you, you “meet” your Mii and it actually becomes a separate entity that represents you, with the questions being its way of downloading your personality. It’s a bit unsettling when you answer something and it repeats the answer, with its own little quip at the end as if it knew all along. Your Mii is a fantastic, perfect liar and it makes me wonder what else it gets up to when the app is closed. It’s a terrifying thought that this thing could be real, jump out of the phone and completely take over your life with the info it has obtained.
… don’t tell it I said that.
If there’s one thing I don’t like in Miitomo it’s the mini-game. Miitomo Drop is just garbage. With annoying music, laggy controls and flashing lights it’s no different to the million trashy apps on the app store. I know it’s meant to be simple, but all those “game show” type sound effects make it feel like I’m gambling at a casino. It’s super cheap and tacky and makes me feel a bit dirty just because the game is so un-Nintendo. You just drop a Mii and watch it bounce, with almost no control over the outcome. Oh yay, I got some candy! That was AWESOME because the lights are flashing! Woohoo! It’s pretty funny watching the Mii’s arms flop about sometimes, but I just wish the game itself was a bit more interactive. It seems harmless but if I had never played a Nintendo game before (like a lot of people with smartphones, sadly) this would paint a bad first impression of what they are about. It’s ironic because everything else about Miitomo feels rich in that Nintendo feel, but they somehow fucked up the game part. Luckily, it’s a pretty small part of the experience and it really only exists to get candy and clothes.
I’ve heard people complain about the load times but they honestly aren’t that bad for me, 6 to 10 seconds on boot up with a random friends Mii in a funny animation. It might be something that varies with each phone. I am pretty new to smartphones, and I’m using an Alcatel Pixi 4.5 with the most recent Android OS. The reason I’m mentioning this exact phone is because it was very difficult for me to determine what phone would play Miitomo when buying a new phone (yes, this was a very important factor). The requirements are technically Android 4.1 and iOS 7.0 upwards, which should be almost any Android / iOS phone on the market today but I’ve heard a lot of people who just couldn’t get it to run. I know that hacked phones will not work, and neither will phones running Windows. Maybe someone else can comment on that if their phone runs Miitomo. It would be good to get a list going somewhere of compatible phones, because I spent hours searching to find nothing. I wish there was a version on 3DS just so nobody felt left out.
I went for a walk down the beach one day and took a few photos, not thinking about Miitomo at all. Later in Miitomo I got the Inkling hair and put on this awful outfit just to feel fresh. It took the Mii photo for me and randomised the pose. It does this every time you change outfit but I liked this one, so I just added the beach pic behind it myself from my phone’s storage. The pic itself is not that amazing or funny but it shows how Miitomo can connect your activities and make them fun and presentable in the Nintendo world. When I’m walking about now, I’ll think about if my Mii would want to go there and get a picture for later. When I initially saw all these Mifotos going around I wasn’t quite sure if this was easily done inside the program or not, but it’s really quick at grabbing pictures. It’s just so effortless and well-designed. If you don’t like a pose you can tape randomise, or you can drag and resize your Mii and put text and shapes in yourself. The easy photo access is a big strength of mobile phones that Miitomo makes use of, and something that wouldn’t be as useful on 3DS or Wii U.
Miitomo is free so if you have a compatible smartphone you may as well try it. The in-game purchases are really not that significant, just coins to help you buy clothes a bit faster. The only way you can go wrong with Miitomo is if you expect a typical videogame product. Miitomo is clearly an app for social communication and nothing more. The amount of friends you have using it will pretty much determine how enjoyable it is for you. I was a bit worried about Nintendo’s support “shifting” to mobile with this, but the whole approach of Miitomo re-affirms that Nintendo knows what they are doing. When it was announced, Nintendo’s stocks plunged. This is not a game! It’s not Mario or Zelda! 10 million users later, and all those kneejerk reactions look pretty stupid. Instead of taking the easy approach, Nintendo made an app that perfectly suited the mobile platform. It’s a huge success and I’m grateful that a lot of my friends are using it. It makes me happy and I hope that going forward, Nintendo continues this social approach for their Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem mobile games. A happy Nintendo environment is the best place to unwind.