By Makeda Byfield
On Christmas of 2012, my nana gave my siblings and me a Wii. We started with two games: Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. After finishing our homework, we’d rush to the living room to make our Miis travel the island and compete against each other in various sports events. The Miis bright personalities and hilarious hijinks definitely brightened my childhood!
In January of 2014, my family was evicted. We lost whatever we didn’t go to school with that day – including our Wii. While there were more important things we needed to recover, I was a child who just wanted the toys and devices that brought me joy and comfort. I still miss them to this day.
In June of 2014, we were sent to live with my father and his parents. They had a Wii! I was moved around to different family members over the next couple of years, but the familiarity of the Wii Sports games brought me a little bit of joy during those tough times.
Fast forward several years. With my eighteenth birthday around the corner, my “childhood” is about to end. I’m beginning to worry about the responsibilities I will have as a college student. The days of playing on the Wii are long gone; our old one was “lost” after several rushed moves. I wouldn’t have much time to play anyways. Still, my siblings and I still find ourselves missing the games we used to love so much.
When I first heard that Miitopia was coming to the Nintendo Switch, I was unbelievably excited! I didn’t even need to know what the game was about to look prior to its release. Fans who were familiar with the 3DS version of the game also shared my excitement. I eagerly downloaded the game on its release date. With no knowledge of what the game would be about, I looked forward to the shenanigans that my Mii was about to get into.
The game follows a team of Miis with a common goal: to defeat the Dark Lord. This blueish/greyish, ugly looking evil villain has wreaked havoc amongst several towns and stolen the town members’ faces! Progress is made by traveling to levels in different towns where monsters of variety are battled, different foods are collected, and different townspeople are met. I’ve encountered kings, mayors, elves, and more, just to watch their faces get stolen by the dark lord as soon as I meet them! My travelling group of fighters is usually tasked with recovering these Miis faces. Players can design and control this group. For example, you decide what their Mii’s jobs are, how they dress, what they eat and how they interact with other members of their party.
These ardent Miis go on a quest with one another and embark on battles against 262 different monsters in order to earn back stolen faces. I haven’t faced them all yet, but each monster is on brand with the world you are currently traveling through. You can expect to face scorpions and cacti in the desert, for example! The Miis each play an integral role in their party. During battle, each member has the option of choosing from different attacks based on their jobs. Some of the jobs are a little wacky; I’n a tank right now. That’s right, a military tank engine! I’m able to fold myself into my camouflage, box-type outfit during a fight to fire actual shots at my opponents! It may be untraditional, but these “jobs” definitely give me some advantages during battles.
When not in battle however, the player can control how the Miis interact which ultimately decides how they perform during battle. The Miis’ relationship with one another, which can be strengthened through their various outings, compliments, and concerns, helps them unlock actions such as warning each other when an opponent is about to attack during a fight. When they’re not at battle, they also rest, eat food or play at the arcade (once again these forays all have the ability to ultimately help the Miis at battle). You can play rock-paper-scissors or spin the wheel at the arcade for a chance at winning coins, outfits, and more for your Miis. This all bonds them in your group and helps them become a cohesive team that can help out powerfully during fights.
Before playing the game I figured that the notorious Nintendo Miis (like Matt and Maria) would be involved. The game title itself doesn’t give away too much about the game. However, I have yet to see these iconic characters make appearances. Sure, you can make them yourself but that’s a lot of work! I won’t complain too much though because it’s fun to customize my crew.
I will also say I was a little confused when I first started playing. I didn’t understand instructions specifically regarding what controls to press during battle. To remedy this, I think the instructions should have more clarity. I feel like there should be a guide you can revisit that tells you which buttons that need to be pressed for certain actions during the fight.
I also feel like there should be an option to go back when the Miis have certain dialogue because sometimes, I don’t fully understand or remember what they say. The game allows you to speed up dialogue so it’d be cool if there were a way to rewind as well.
Outside of that, I’ve had a lot of fun with the game! The customization options for the Miss’ jobs, outfits, certain dialogue and interaction they have with one another are something I thoroughly enjoy, in addition to the lively background music, the color schemes of the town, and the miis facial expressions. I also really like how the game will periodically give you the option to continue playing or take a break so you don’t play for such lengthy intervals.
I still have a long way to go before I’m done with the game. I’m currently at a point where the Dark Lord has stolen all my teammates/other party members twice! It’s not clear where he’s holding them but it adds suspense; that definitely keeps me on the edge of my seat, eager to play and find out! While we continue on our journey, my siblings and I are happily following our crew and watching their story unfold. I can see these moments becoming fond memories that remind me of the days my siblings and I used to play together on that long lost original Wii.
Makeda Byfield is our newest New York Videogame Critics Circle contributor, part of our ongoing partnership with Bronxworks.