" In an ironic twist, Miitopia is the very thing it's trying to parody."
3 years ago, when I played Tomodachi Life, there was a minigame that you could play between (I believe) 6 and 7 PM each day. This was an RPG made in the traditional style in which you fought random things like hamburgers, soft drinks, and other such items. You had multiple paths to take through the dungeon and items to help out the characters. It was a fun distraction, and part of me wished an RPG involving the Miis would become an actual game because of it. The wacky humour of the Miis would fit right into a parody of the genre. So, I was excited when I heard the announcement about Miitopia last year.
When I first tried the game, I was hoping to have the Miis' signature humour alongside a parody RPG. My wish was half granted on both counts. While the Miis do get into some funny situations, like one party member falling down a hole with the other party members telling them to meet up at the inn later, characters working out in sync with each other, or constant asking to see if anyone farted while walking out in the field, there weren't any of the laugh out loud moments that I had while playing Tomodachi Life. As for being a parody of RPGs, Miitopia doesn't quite reach that point. The story is meant to be taken seriously and there are not enough ridiculous situations in the plot for it to be that humourous. Interestingly, in an ironic twist, Miitopia is the very thing it's trying to parody.
The story of the game is about a Dark Lord that comes by and steals people's faces. You, as an ordinary citizen, are chosen by a divine power to fight the Dark Lord and rescue those unfortunate faceless victims. Along the way, the divine power sends you teammates to help you save the denizens of Miitopia. Besides the whole "saving people's faces" premise, this is a fairly basic story for just about any RPG, and I was hoping the game would poke fun at that. It does this a couple of times, but I never got the sense that trying to parody standard RPGs was the main goal. As a result, the story isn't anything special; in fact, it's very generic.
In Miitopia, you select most of the characters making an appearance in the game. You pick out the main character, the main villain, your party members, and the townspeople, so whoever appears in your game is entirely up to you. It could be friends, celebrities, other video game characters, or your own original creations. If you don't like who shows up in your game, you can always change them from the menu. Connecting online gives you other people's creations from Mii Central, an online collection of people's Miis from all over the world.
You are able to pick your party's classes and personalities. There are 12 classes and 7 different personality types. The personalities you assign characters don't actually change their behavior that much outside of battle, so you are more or less picking personality types for their behaviors during fights. Each personality type has their benefits and drawbacks. Airheaded characters will forget which enemy they want to attack and will attack a random enemy, but can also dance with an enemy to distract them and stop them from moving. Laid-back characters will either do a powerful attack or a less powerful attack to save MP. While Miitopia does have your standard warrior, mage, thief, and cleric classes, there are many fun classes like chef, flower, pop star, princess, scientist, and tank (a literal tank). While the standard classes give you the classic abilities and benefits of those classes, it was enjoyable playing as the new classes to see what kinds of creative skills they would have.
As for the gameplay itself, it's a traditional turn-based RPG; you and the enemy take turns attacking each other with basic attacks or individual skills (which cost MP). Miitopia is unique in its use of "sprinkles," which are basically your items, and the "Safe Spot." Sprinkles can be used at any time to restore either HP or MP, and later on for revival. The Safe Spot can help a Mii restore HP, MP, and heal status conditions at the cost of a turn. While in the Safe Spot, the Mii also cannot be targeted by enemies. Knowing when to use sprinkles and the Safe Spot is the key to playing Miitopia properly.
Sadly, there's not much else to master besides these two elements. You control your own Mii, but your teammates are all controlled by AI. While the AI is actually competent, it is sometimes annoying to not fully dictate your party's actions. If you're the grindy type like me, you will also be happy to know that there is an option to make your own Mii AI-controlled. I found myself doing this all the time, as I was confident the AI would work out most situations. The game was also never too difficult or too easy. There were a few difficulty spikes, but nothing a half-hour or so of grinding didn't fix.
As you fight enemies, they will drop food, and you can use it to increase your Mii's stats: HP, MP, Attack, Magic, Defense, and Speed. Each Mii has their own likes and dislikes, much like Tomodachi Life. Sometimes you might find that a Mii's food preferences are unsuitable for the class they have. Unfortunately, you don't unlock class switching until the mid-game, and by that point, you might as well push onward with the class you have.
Outside of battle, Miis can have conversations at the inns (bases) and engage in random events out in the field while exploring. These events can have good or bad consequences depending on your choices. If there's a hole in the ground or a bush to explore, you can choose whether or not they'll perform the action of looking. A Mii could try digging to see if there is an item, but if they're unsuccessful, they'll lose HP. These events help break up the monotony, and it's interesting to see how the Miis will react to some of these situations. A Mii's personality traits also determine the success rate in these events sometimes.
The Mii's relationships with one another affect a variety of things. Miis can get closer by sharing the same room and helping each other in the field or in combat. If they're good friends, they'll work together in battle by attacking along with their friend, consoling them if they get hurt, or going into a fit of rage if their friend gets knocked out. If the Miis mess with each other too much, they'll begin to fight, which affects battle performance when they butt in front of the other Mii or squabble in front of the enemy, which hurts everyone involved. How you handle relationships between the Miis becomes essential in some of the later battles.
One of the persistent issues I had was the removal of party members at multiple points in the journey. In the first three worlds in this game, your party members are kidnapped by the Dark Lord and your powers are stripped, basically starting you back at level 1 with no allies to tackle the next area. Of course, the enemies are also reduced back to lower levels, but it's still frustrating to be invested in your party just to have them taken away at the end of the stage. The full group reunites in the middle of the game, which helps, but then the game has party members fall ill at random, forcing you to go without them for a few stages. It's frustrating if one of the teammates that is sick happens to be one of your best characters.
The sound design is pretty typical adventure fare, with a decent soundtrack, but nothing too special. Every attack felt like it had the appropriate sound behind it, and the Miis' signature babbling made the game feel like a game involving the Miis. The boss music is just about the only real standout piece in the game. In terms of graphics, Miitopia has a nice variety of worlds. There are your typical plains, deserts, volcanoes, and snowy worlds, all of which look quite nice. My favourite was the elven forest, with huge drops of water hanging off the plants that the characters would interact with on occasion.
Ultimately, Miitopia is one of the most average games I think I've ever played. It's a sandwich made out of two slices of white bread with a third slice of white bread in the middle. There's nothing particularly remarkable or unremarkable about it, yet I somehow still thoroughly enjoyed it and could play it for long stretches of time. If anything, Miitopia is a good beginner's RPG. If someone is curious about RPGs and wants to know how to get into the genre or what some of the tropes are, I would recommend Miitopia.
*Disclaimer: I spent over 20 hours on the demo prior to the game's release, and the demo allows all gear, items, money, and experience to transfer over to the main game. Some parts of the game may be more difficult than I describe.
This review is based on a free review copy provided to RPGFan by the developer. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer's opinion of the game or its final score.