When Nintendo announced that their first app on mobile would be more of a social experience and less of a game, I rolled my eyes and thought, “Of course”. Though, if there is one thing I’ve learned as a dedicated Nintendo fan, it is to never underestimate Nintendo.
Is Miitomo the Mario on iPhone experience we were looking forward to seeing? Well, …no, it certainly isn’t. Still, Miitomo is a ton of fun and you should absolutely check it out.
Let’s start with the basics. In Miitomo, you create your own Mii look-alike and interact with friends. When creating your Mii, there are all the options you’ve come to expect from the Mii editors we have seen before. The part that makes Miitomo really interesting is that it borrows from Tomodachi Life in that you can buy and change clothes for you Mii, as well as customize the way that they speak. The Mii’s speak in a voice you create for them. There’s nothing funnier than watching a little Mii version of myself talk like an alien about one of my friends. The majority of the time spent in Miitomo will be answering and asking your friends various questions. You can then favorite and comment on others posts. It’s like a little social network for your Mii.
The problem with friends in Miitomo is a age old one that Nintendo never seems to get right. Adding friends can be a real hassle through Miitomo. You can link your Facebook or Twitter to the app and add friends and followers that also have the app downloaded. This is the easiest way to make friends on Miitomo. You can also view your friend’s friend lists and add people from there. Unfortunately, you cannot search for people. You have to have some connection to them like Facebook or Twitter to be able to add them. The only other way to add friends is if two people are nearby, they can add each other through local connection. Gone are the Friend Codes we are used to abhor, but even those might be more helpful than nothing at all. Despite these setbacks, I didn’t have a hard time filling up my friends list.
There are a few more things Miitomo can do and the next is perhaps the best feature. Miifoto is a photo mode when you can stage silly pictures for your Mii. Each day the app auto generates a Miifoto of the day, and from there you can customize it or make a new one. You can add text, change your Mii’s posture, expression, add a silly back drop. Then photos can be shared on various social networks or saved to your camera roll. Miitomo Drop is a little mini game where you drop your Mii friends like a coin though a pachinko machine to win prizes. This mode didn’t draw me back as much but it is great fun watching your friends get knocked around the machine like a pinball.
Of course Miitomo, like every single app, offers in-app purchases. The funny thing is, Nintendo actually makes it hard buy them. It isn't difficult to gain currency for buying new clothes. Daily you are given free rewards and you gain currency through communicating with friends. In fact, finding the menu to buy in-game currency is difficult. It’s tucked away in the menus, making me constantly forget that these purchasing options even exist. I wonder if Nintendo did this intentionally in an effort to not distract the player. Either way, I quite like this method of in-app purchases. They are still there for those that want them, and for the rest of us, they're not in our faces.
Overall, I really like Miitomo. I check in on it a couple of times a day, like I would Facebook or Snapchat. Nintendo has found its own little corner of the social media market and its refreshing. If Miitomo is anything to go off of, Nintendo’s future in the mobile market is looking brighter than some of us may have believed.