‘Miitomo’ Review: Nintendo Comes to iOS

Nintendo announced awhile back how they’d be entering the world of mobile-game development, and immediately the online scene went crazy with theories of how Nintendo might ruin Mario with pay-to-win fueled greed. Although Nintendo has made it clear that more games will be arriving later on, what gamers got first from Nintendo’s bold move towards mobile-gaming was perhaps the absolute last thing anyone expected. Rather than Mario jumping about — Link plumbing a dungeon’s depth — or even snatching up every last Pokémon in existence, gamers were instead met with a socialization/dress-up app starring Nintendo’s iconic Miis.

Miitomo (out now, free) promises to help mobile-users more easily connect and communicate with their other mobile-using friends, all by allowing them to communicate with each other impersonally via their Miis. These Miis can either be designed in-app — in much the same way people already did with either the 3DS or Wii U — or by importing them via their Nintendo ID, thus allowing them to access one they’ve previously created. Since much has thus far been written on the robustness of the Mii creation-tools, dating back to their original 2006 debut on the Nintendo Wii, I’m basically going to assume you already have some idea of just how powerful these tools actually are.

screen480x480Anyways, once you’ve gotten your Mii ready — and afterwards dressed them however you prefer (which I’ll touch on more further down) — you’re ready to start playing Miitomo for real. What this means is you’ll be asked various personal questions by your Mii, and afterwards you’ll type in whatever sort of response you feel is most accurate (at least so long as you can do so using only 190 characters). Thankfully you can always skip a question, and even come back to it later on, if you’re unable to think of any good answers (or at least not any answers you’d ever be willing to share with your friends).

One part about Miitomo’s questionnaire-process that rather impressed me was just how well their voice-synthesis worked, which managed to correctly pronounce numerous answers I thought for sure would break the app. In addition you can customize how your Mii talks using one of six different speech presets, which you may additionally modify by selecting from one of four different inflection-patterns. Furthermore — should this not be enough customization — you can even create an entirely original voice all your own, by using a series of five different sliders to design whatever sort of voice you most prefer.

So long as you just answer questioned posed to you either by your own Mii — or those owned by your friends — Miitomo is 100% free to play for however long you prefer, although things become slightly different when you start factoring in the clothing system. Clothing — which has no real impact on Miitomo’s endless question-answering — is purchased from the clothing shop using Mii Coins, as well as sometimes won via a Pachinko style mini-game. These coins can be earned by listening to new answers from your friends — answering questions yourself — and getting your daily log-in bonuses, yet the only guaranteed way to get a ton of these in immediate-bulk would be via IAPs.

screen480x480 (3)Now while most items in the store will be there for the long haul, meaning you can easily save up for them, there also exist a randomized selection of items that get changed up with the beginning of each and every 24-hour period. This is probably the closest thing to a genuine attempt in Miitomo towards trying to panic players with a cash-shakedown, but I still have to revert back to my original point that outfits never do anything valuable. Even though Nintendo has went out of their way to explicitly label Miitomo as Free-to-Start — rather than the far more common moniker: Free-to-Play — this app is amusingly more benign than what you could have ever expected from virtually any other publisher.

There further exists — beyond the clothing shop — the aforementioned mini-game, which provide access to an assortment of ultra-premium clothing items (the likes of which only God knows when they’ll return, if ever). Whereas the clothing in the standard shop is generally of a more-mundane variety, the items here are often a far-weirder offering (with stuff like Ninja gear, Dog-themed costumes, and even outfit pieces based on Splatoon). To play this Pachinko-themed mini-game you’ll either need coins, or game-tickets (which are commonly earned as either daily log-in rewards — via the My Nintendo system — or for successfully meeting various in-app achievement goals).

You control these by selecting where you wish to drop your friend from, and afterwards watching them bounce — crash — and flail as they fall downwards to determine which clothing item you’ll receive. It’s nice they save the position from which you dropped the Mii when you replay the same table many times, making it somewhat easier to carefully plan where to perform your next drop from (although most tables do have moving parts). One curious thing I particularly took note of was that all of these Pachinko machines seemed to be deliberately designed such that the male outfits were far harder to reach than female ones (in all honesty, I would’ve expected this to be the other way around).

screen480x480 (4)Now while the aforementioned Nintendo ID — which is much like a Steam account, except for Nintendo products instead — probably makes sense easily enough, you might currently be wondering about this separate “My Nintendo” ordeal I recently brought up. My Nintendo — to put it bluntly — is what Nintendo of America eventually ended up replacing their discontinued Club Nintendo with, except the prizes available aren’t anywhere nearly as good this time around. Anyways, you can — via optionally linking Miitomo with your Nintendo ID — earn daily coins for your My Nintendo account as well (assuming you’ve already taken the time to set one up).

Although I won’t fully detail what’s actually available from My Nintendo, there do exist clothing items — available only in this manner — that one can add to their closet using these reward-program coins. You can additionally use these coins to purchase additional Game Tickets in bulk, should a Pachinko machine ever show up with something you absolutely must have (rather than buying attempts with Mii Coins you’d likely don’t have many of). All-in-all there’s little reason to not set yourself up with a My Nintendo account, even if the former Club Nintendo did have far superior prizes on display (this is doubly so if you additionally plan to make digital game-purchases on either a Nintendo 3DS or Wii U).

Anyways — if I’m being brutally honest — you probably didn’t need to read this entire review to truly know whether or not you wanted to play Miitomo, although the Nintendo quality we’ve long come to expect is certainly there to be sure. The reality is the mere fact you’re here probably means this app wasn’t for you, because — assuming you’re truly jonesing for a social-app by Nintendo — you’d probably have already grabbed Miitomo. That said — even though Miitomo isn’t exactly much of a game — don’t let my words dissuade if you’re still intrigued, just be sure that you convince some of your friends to join you on this question-filled trek (as the app doesn’t exactly function otherwise).


Miitomo is a socialization-app — that’s extremely free, other than dressing your character up (which has no real in-game perks beyond mere appearance) — brought to you by Nintendo, and features all of the legendary quality-control they’re often renown for. However — all that said — there’s very little to do here beyond dressing your Mii and, as Brentalfloss recently put it rather succinctly — talking endlessly about yourself and your interests. So odds are you already knew if something like Miitomo was up your alley before you even clicked into this article, but — assuming you’d like to give it a go all the same — be sure to bring friends along (as the app doesn’t exactly work without others).

Traditional Nintendo-polish
Impressive speech-synthesis
Extremely free-to-play
It’s still little more than a socialization-app letting you play dress-up with your Miis