[Editor’s Note: Over the past few days, the AiPT gaming writers have been chatting on slack about new releases, my ongoing obsession with Zelda Amiibo, Splatoon 2, etc. etc. etc. You know, what you expect a group of gaming nerds to rattle around.
Throughout that chatter though, something started to stand out. Jordan Richards, one of our contributors, started telling us all about this demo he had been playing, and how absolutely hilarious it was. I asked him to do a quick review of the game, because he seemed to be enjoying the hell out of the demo, and could not stop updating us on the weird goings on he was uncovering. He gave me a quick pass of his first impressions, included below. -P.]
Miitopia was first announced for American release back in April and while it was in the back of my mind for a bit, I didn’t really think too much of it. It was when I saw someone play a bit of the demo on YouTube I finally had to venture in.
Miitopia is a simple turn-base RPG where you cast yourself, your friends, family, cartoon/anime characters, celebrities, politicians, and more in a silly and sometimes surprising tale. It’s all about saving the world of Miitopia from evil Dark Overlord [Insert Name Here] as he steals people’s faces and puts them on monsters for kicks. There are other strange figures you run into on the trip, like the Great Sage [Insert Whoever], Nintendo Fan [Again, insert whoever], a roaming Food Critic, and more that add up to quite the tale.
The story presented here is a simple good vs. evil fantasy, but what makes it so special is the casting of whomever you want. Journeying into the first town I met the local guide, played by Dr. Mario, and a cheeky, overtly romantic couple consisting of Beast Boy from the Teen Titans and Rei from Evangelion. Peter Griffin from Family Guy also showed up as the overly worried and doom-saying Mayor.
It was then that the Evil Dark Lord, played by Flint Lockwood from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, showed up and snatched everyone’s face. This goes from a simple tale to a very weird and silly experience depending on who ends up playing what roles, some of which you cast or some that are pre-selected.
As I said above, the gameplay is traditional turn-based RPG. Pick your class, attack and take damage when attacked. The twist of the game is that while you control your character, your partners act independently and their behavior is controlled by two things: Personality & Relationship.
With the introduction of every new character, you choose a personality, with passive abilities. For example, if you’re stubborn, you hit an enemy twice to finish them off. If you’re kind, you can let enemies run. If you’re cool, you hit weak spots for extra damage. It’s nice little boost.
Relationships are built by having teammates bunk with one another at inns, through random events, or getting cruise tickets to send them on vacation (saving the world can wait sometimes, you know?). The better the relationship, the more you level the relationship up and gain more passive abilities. I’ve had members deal extra damage to enemies to show off to friends, praise each other for pulling off a good move, or team up to hit an enemy twice. However, teammates can become jealous and frustrated with one another. This causes them to get moody during fights, become distracted and take extra damage, and attack each other. It’s an interesting mechanic, but for the life of me, I don’t understand how jealousy and quarreling happens or what ultimately triggers it.
There are a few other mechanics that make the game interesting. You can collect food from enemies to feed to your team for an ability buff (or decrease them if they hate the food), you only buy equipment upgrades whenever the Mii themselves wants something, gold is only collected in big chunks through a game of rock-paper-scissors with a computer instead of fighting monsters, the ability to put people in safe spots to heal up and recover from status effects outside of the battlefield during a fight, and other strange items that make things interesting. The demo only offers six available classes, including odd ones like Pop Star and Cook, but the main game has far more as time goes on.
The demo is certainly a lot of fun, but also very much on rails with forward only progression. There’s no real side quests, the characters move themselves from Point A to B, and random events always occur at certain points and, judging by other play-throughs I watched, are the same thing almost all the time. The game also tends to be on the easy side… to an extent. The enemies aren’t too difficult to crush, but the bosses can give you a run for your money if you’re not quick or cautious.
As a whole, the Miitopia demo was a lot of fun and I ultimately bought the main game because of it. It’s a fun experience for people who like cute things and it’s a great first RPG for younger kids, since it’s easy to understand and offers a lot of good anti-frustration features. For the cynical folks out there, this is more of a pass for you.