It’s a warm autumn afternoon, you have just had something to drink and as you’re being carefully seated on the floor you look around the room and see someone that you’ve never noticed looking back at you. Who is that baby through the gap in the wall? You stare, then you crawl over to them. A barrier is between you two, but that’s not all, you hear your guardian speak to you and even though you can hear them behind you, suddenly they are standing behind the barrier. You turn around. The same legs standing and face smiling down at you. You turn back and everything clicks. That baby is you, you now know what you look like and like a mental miracle the concept of the self is born in your mind. Fast forward to 2016 and it’s time to apply the concept all over again to make an avatar for the latest social app craze!
A little over a fortnight ago independent software giant Nintendo finally wet their toes in the mobile gaming scene with, not a game, but a social-based application; Miitomo.
Miitomo focuses on an indirect form of communication; questions. A user’s avatar (Mii) will ask questions and catalogue responses, then relay the questions and answers of other users with the opportunity to heart (equivalent to Facebook’s ‘like’ and Miiverse’s ‘Yeah!’) the answer and even comment on the response to make a statement into a discussion. This is all supported by the ability to purchase clothing for your Mii or win exclusive apparel through minigames. Clothing can vary between everyday wear or whacky cosplay outfits like dressing up as a ninja or a loaf of bread.
Miitomo is actually the third entry in a series started by Nintendo back in 2009, Tomodachi Collection on the DS (exclusive to japan), but it’s more likely you’ve heard of the second game; Tomodachi Life for the 3DS. New to Miitomo is the question and answer feature, but this doesn’t last and can lead to those dependant on the gratification of social media to become more self-absorbed. Compared to its older brothers, Miitomo is pretty low on features. When players have answered enough questions and blown through their in-game currency, the only activity left is arranging elements in the Miifoto mode. Although well executed, Miifotos are only really fun when used to construct a response seeing as there is no real way to highlight a Miifoto of your own creation. But on second thought, those who don’t give a toss about what their friends see can also find fun in taking Miifotos of their Mii in unsuitably adult scenarios, such as sitting on top of Bayonetta’s…well anything really.
Bringing back the adorable yet wacky charm of previous entries is the Miitomo Drop minigame, which is used to receive seasonal attire. Although very basic, there is a certain thrill in watching one of your random friends bounce around a Pachinko screen, crossing your fingers that they land on the…OH GODDAMN IT PAUL I ONLY HAD ONE TICKET LEFT AND YOU BLEW IT.
If earning the app’s two currency types are a little too difficult or time-consuming, the app does also offer micro-transactions. Thankfully these are presented as optional, only seeming to be offered to players that have run dry on them, rather than blasting users with daily deals and “$109.99 mega-bundles”. Smart move Nintendo! This also brings up the tertiary currency of the app which is intrinsically linked to Nintendo’s new loyalty program; My Nintendo.
Having shut down the Club Nintendo service last year, Miitomo provides an excellent way to discover the new service. Users can complete missions to earn platinum coins within Miitomo and outside of the app. These coins can be used to purchase exclusive rewards such as free games, exclusive Miitomo clothing, and discounts on downloadable titles for the 3DS and Wii U. Compared to Club Nintendo‘s old catalogue, you’ll find an absence of physical goods to claim but there are still plenty of items for fans to work towards. As well as platinum coins, My Nintendo also keeps a bank of gold coins that are received for making purchases via the 3DS or Wii U download services. These gold coins can be redeemed for different rewards and are a nice bonus for players that were already planning to purchase a download title or looking for a second reason to get a new game without the effort of having to get changed out of their pyjamas to leave the house.
Among the rewards for My Nintendo is an old game with a new twist; My Nintendo Picross – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. But considering how that’s a bit of a mouthful, let’s just call it Zelda TP Picross for now.
To put Picross in layman’s terms, basically think of it as something like ‘pixelated Sudoku‘. The puzzles work on giving numbered clues to the player outside of a grid, and then using these clues to work out which tiles inside of the grid are meant to be shaded and which stay blank. The end result is a pixelated image of a scene or everyday item. Zelda TP Picross uses characters and tools from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess as a basis for its puzzles and even allows posting of the solution of the puzzles via a stamp to Miiverse for bragging rights. The game even offers a new mode where a colossal 80×80 Picross image is broken down into individual puzzles to reveal an epic moment from Twilight Princess. Overall, not a bad way for puzzle fans to fill up their commute time, but not as polished as the “free-to-start” Pokémon Picross, which is also available for 3DS.
Considering that Miitomo and the My Nintendo service are completely free, this new effort from Nintendo is incredibly good value for money, even for those who don’t own a Nintendo device. In the coming months expect new features to be added to Miitomo, since it definitely has room for growth, and expect more classics and special titles to be added to the My Nintendo rewards program.
In summary, I give Miitomo a rating of platinum coin out of…GODAMN IT PAUL, NOT AGAIN!
You can visit the My Nintendo website here if you haven’t already signed up for the service.
Be ready for next time!
– Joshua ‘TinyCat’ Kinsela