Format: Android, iOS (reviewed)
Released: March 31, 2016
Free-to-play, microtransactions purchased
It wouldn’t be too wild a speculation to suggest that Nintendo could bring any one of its major properties to mobile phones and rake in an obscene amount of cash. From Mario to Pokemon, the publisher has enough universal brand clout to milk an iOS user dry.
Nintendo being Nintendo, however, it just had to approach the mobile platform in its own bizarre way.
So it is that we do not have a mobile version of Pokemon, a Mario runner game, or a Fruit Ninja/Legend of Zelda crossover. Instead we have Miitomo, the weird social app that uses Nintendo’s ever-creepy Mii characters in an unusual ecosystem of dress-ups and questions.
Taking inspiration from the 3DS sim Tomodachi Life, Miitomo encourages users to create a Mii based on themselves, connect with friends, and answer a range of banal questions. Tomodachi‘s text-to-speech function is in full effect – hilarious as ever – and the most important news is the complete lack of a word filter.
What this means is you can make your Mii say anything, and it will speak it out loud. You can talk about milking scorpions, pounding your genitals into an erotic pulp, or shitting in a toaster, and your cartoony avatar will repeat everything typed with its haunting robotic voice. This is by far the best part of the app, and its appeal will outlast most of what else Miitomo offers.
Essentially, it’s a game about taking surveys. Single-question surveys that exist simply for their own sake.
By tapping on your Mii, you’ll be asked such questions as, “What’s your favorite TV show?” or “What did you do last night?” You can answer them however you want, and your answers will be viewable by friends, who can “like” and comment on them in simple, Facebook-style threads.
You may receive questions from friends’ Miis, some of which may be private ones, which allow you to hit on people like a disgusting little sex person.
Miitomo pushes its social networking hard, and it’s not difficult to start adding friends. By linking existing accounts like Facebook and Twitter, you’ll swiftly find your pals in the game’s world, and you’ll not be short of suggested additions based on who you’re already linked with.
Responding to friend requests can be a tedious process unfortunately, as you can’t simply confirm every request at once, instead clicking on each one and manually approving it. The process of adding a single friend requires several taps with loading in between. As an incredibly popular boy who has a ton of requests to answer every time I fire the app up, this is a wearisome process, and I’d love the ability to just mass approve.
I’m really popular, is what I’m saying.
Answering questions and leaving comments for people will earn you coins which can be spent in the shop on new clothes. Clothes are unisex in nature, meaning you can wear whatever pants, chicken outfits, and fishnet tights you want. In a surprising move for a Nintendo product, you can find some rather kinky attire on offer.
Of course, since this is Nintendo and a freemium app, there is a hard limit on how many coins you can earn in-game per day, and it’s not enough to do serious shopping on a regular basis.
You can of course buy more coins using real-life cash. The microtransactions are fairly reasonable as far as free-to-play economies go, and it’s certainly more worthwhile than Nintendo Badge Arcade, if only for the fact that the social element makes dressing up as much performance as personal gratification.
By changing clothes regularly and interacting with friends, you’ll level up your popularity and fashion meters, which can reward you with more coins and game tokens. These tokens can then be taken to a little arcade machine where a Mii is dropped into a column full of bumpers in the hopes of landing on some unique clothing items.
The arcade game is rubbish.
The Miis will very rarely land on the clothing items, and since it’s all completely luck based, there’s not a lot of fun to be had here. This token slice of gameplay will mostly net you pieces of candy, which can be given to your friends’ Miis in order to hear more of their answers. I don’t know why you need to do that, but you do, so let’s not question it.
This app is stupid, when you think about it.
What else can you do? You can link your Nintendo ID to undertake missions, but they’re all passive tasks like “change your clothes” and “answer three questions” in exchange for Nintendo Points.
The star attraction, by far, is the photo mode, in which you can pose your Mii, use custom backgrounds, and add text in order to create all manner of ludicrous images. These pictures can be shared on Facebook and Twitter, as well as added to your Miitomo feed for the amusement of everybody. Once again, there are no restrictions, so you can be as grotesque as you want.
Is this memes? Yes, it can be memes.
Miitomo is cute, silly, and relatively fun to dick around with, but it’s not exactly packed with reasons to keep going back. While the social aspects are fun, and it’s interesting to drop in to see who reacted to your latest perverse gibberish, the longevity of such chicanery isn’t exactly remarkable. In fact, in less than a week since downloading it, I’ve been finding myself less and less motivated to go back to it.
Part of this longevity will be based on how active your friends are. If they start to suffer the same quick fatigue I have, then you’ll find yourself with even less to do. Fact is, this is one of those neat little gimmicks with limited potential, and I can’t see it having that long a tail.
I could be wrong, of course, and this could be something people are raving about a year from now. If my personal experience is indicative of the common consensus, however, we’ll all have forgotten this exists before too long.
In several ways, Miitomo is the perfect kind of app for Nintendo to bring to mobile devices – it’s unexpected, silly, and it doesn’t make any sense. It’s also quite a bit of fun for however long such entertainment lasts, and it’s had a lot of thought put into it – it could easily have been cobbled together quickly for a quick cash-in, but it’s a highly polished time waster.
Still, in the time since starting the first draft of this review a few days ago and typing in this final line, I’ve had no real desire to use it again.
Even making a Mii say “fuck my shrimp hole” has a shelf life.