Capsule Review: Miitomo

Nintendo’s first mobile app, Miitomo is more social toy than game. It has a few modes - customizing your Mii, providing answers to various open-ended questions (ranging from “What are you doing this weekend?” to “What’s something you’ve lost that you’ve never been able to find?” and everything beyond and in between) which your friends can view and comment on, creating “Miifotos” by posing Miis, speech balloons, and other items against whatever background image you like, and getting new clothing and accessories for your Mii either via in-app currency or the Pachinko-like “Miitomo Drop” minigame.

While Miitomo’s launch received a lot of attention, this appears to have been mostly because it was Nintendo’s first mobile title rather than there being persistent interest in the app itself. Most users didn’t stick with it, and the service was terminated a bit over two years after it launched.

As of this review, the effect on Nintendo’s mobile business remains to be seen, but this is a worrying precedent. Miitomo, like all of Nintendo’s mobile games so far, requires an always-on connection - presumably as an anti-piracy measure since all the games have in-app purchases. That means that when they shut down the servers, the app becomes completely unusable if it doesn’t get a patch. And now that the question has come up, Nintendo has shown us that they’re perfectly willing to just let that happen. No patch is coming to enable us to keep playing with Miis and Miifotos offline. (So I guess I won’t be turning And in the game? into a Miifoto comic.)

Players spent money on Miitomo. They invested time and created content. I personally customized six Miis with many outfits, made 180 Miifotos, and answered 983 questions. All of it is being unnecessarily destroyed. You can technically export your Miis (though their clothing, accessories, and personalities won’t come with them) and Miifotos can be saved as image files or posted to social media, but there’s no way to export question answers or their discussion threads short of taking screenshots.

This does not bode well for the inevitable shutdown of Nintendo’s other mobile titles. There’s no real reason players couldn’t continue to enjoy Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, or Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp offline once those titles are no longer profitable, but now the expectation is that Nintendo won’t allow this. Why should players invest time and money into these games, then? When Miitomo’s shutdown was first announced, I was working on improving my campsite in Pocket Camp - and I immediately found myself wondering how long it would be until that, too, was just destroyed. I certainly wasn’t going to spend real money on any Leaf Tickets after that.

I Stopped Playing When: I got sick of Miitomo Drop. The questions were compelling and led to some interesting discussions, but the appeal dropped off when most of my friends stopped using the app. I still had fun collecting clothing and accessories for my Mii and making Miifotos, but so many interesting outfits were only available through Miitomo Drop, which was frustrating enough to drive me away. Even loot boxes would have been better since that would have at least been faster.

Docprof's Rating:

Three Stars: Good. I liked the game enough to finish it (or just play it a bunch, for games that don't end). I recommend it to most genre fans.

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