Nintendo's 'Miitopia' is a Kid-Friendly Take on RPGs

Recast all the characters with friends

Key Takeaways

  • Miitopia is an all-ages fantasy RPG that lets you customize all the major characters' identities.
  • Nintendo's Mii character creator has fallen a bit out of focus with the Switch, but it's still more flexible than it has any right to be.
  • Like a lot of first-party Nintendo games, it's aimed at kids, but adults can have a few laughs with it.
Miitopia characters at a table

The word I want to use here is "harmless." Nintendo's Miitopia is a kid-friendly spin on a typical Japanese RPG, where friendship is the most mechanically powerful weapon of all.

In Miitopia, you've got a quest, a hero, a kingdom, and a bunch of monsters to pummel, in the most deliberately generic storyline this side of Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest. The hook is that you can recast all of the human characters, from your hero to the ultimate villain, via Nintendo's Mii character creator.

“The word I want to use here is ‘harmless.’”

It comes pre-loaded with an assortment of copyright-infringing, user-created avatars, but there's a lot of fun to be had with making your own and throwing them into (in)appropriate positions in the kingdom.

On its own merits, Miitopia is an easy, 30-hour RPG that mostly plays itself. It's aimed squarely at the under-12 crowd, but has a lot of micromanagement elements that can keep min-maxers busy. Most importantly, it's too relentlessly cheerful to dislike.

Face/Off

There's some LEGO Movie-style G-rated body horror at work in Miitopia. Your character is a drifter who stops by the village of Greenhorne right as it comes under attack. A spirit called the Dark Lord steals several villagers' faces, which peel off like they're stickers, and uses them to transform normal animals into monsters.

You're promptly empowered by a nameless force and sent out on a quest to find and reclaim the stolen faces. As one does.

Like the recent Bravely Default II, Miitopia runs off of a job system that allows you to pick a class for every character on your team, such as warrior, mage, cleric, or, uh, pop star.

However, you only directly control your own character in combat, while the rest of your team is guided by AI. Your main influence on your team comes from the relationships you build with it.

Battle in Miitopia

Characters who help each other gradually create a rapport, which in turn unlocks special team buffs and attacks. Once they start helping each other with combat actions, every fight gets a lot easier, so it's well worth spending a lot of time on friendship-builders when you're not in the field.

It's also most of what you can actually do. Miitopia has a lot of "auto-battler" in its DNA, in a similar spirit to this year's indie hit Loop Hero. When you enter an area in Miitopia, your characters automatically forge forward until they hit a randomly-triggered event or reach the end of the current path.

"Miitopia is a charming if simple RPG that's well-suited to any audience."

You can gradually accumulate snacks and money from treasures and fights along the way. When your characters take a break at the inn, you can whip up meals of stat-boosting food and set up what amount to adventurer play dates, in addition to more traditional power-boosting mechanics like leveling up or buying new gear.

It's not quite mindless, as you're immediately and distinctly rewarded for gently tweaking your characters' stats and friendships, but there's a lot of Miitopia that takes care of itself. I found that it makes a good “podcast game.”

Your New Best Friend

In keeping with the 2021 spirit, Miitopia on the Switch is a remastered version of a 2017 game for the Nintendo 3DS that was relatively obscure outside of Japan. The new version adds customization features like wigs and makeup.

More importantly, Miitopia on Switch adds a new member to your party: a friendly horse, who is as customizable as everyone else in the game. He/she follows you around and randomly allows your characters to ride him/her in battle for powerful mounted attacks.

And yes, you can turn your horse into a unicorn. That's the first thing I checked.

By itself, Miitopia is a charming if simple RPG that's well-suited to any audience. The humor and absurdity comes from who you choose to cast in its various roles, whether it's a bunch of existing characters in your own custom crossover nightmare or your own friends and family.

It reminds me of playing Oregon Trail in my school's computer lab when I was a kid, when we'd name the settlers in our wagon train after one another so we could laugh when misfortune struck.

That's what pushes Miitopia over the line from kids-only territory to something anyone can enjoy. It's a charming, too-simple, too-easy game on its own merits, but there's a lot of room for creativity and style with the Mii character creator, and that's where it shines.

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