Even when Nintendo borrows from other sources, they find ways to innovate and be fresh, and that is clear with Miitomo, their new app for select smart devices.
Less of a game and more of a social networking app with a cute shell, Miitomo released about a week ago to acclaim and several million downloads. Breaking free from the longstanding criticisms that Nintendo doesn’t understand the internet, the app connects to your existing Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as to the new My Nintendo rewards program, born out of the ashes of Club Nintendo. At its heart, its very similar in function to the aforementioned social networking sites. After importing your Mii avatar from My Nintendo or making one from scratch and giving him or her a custom personality and voice, your Mii will ask you questions about yourself and show you similar questions your friends or other people answered, leaving you to ‘heart’ messages as you see fit and respond. Questions are all preset by the app and can sometimes be silly or tedious (“What’s the best thing about cats?” or “What does fashion mean to you?”), but can be skipped. Your responses can be open ended and are unfiltered and uncensored and can sometimes lead to insightful discussion with your friends that you wouldn’t otherwise think to have.
The app is picky about how you can interact with your friends. It will endlessly feed you random comments from your pool of friends, or you can hear and respond to a few comments from a specific friend. After the few, you have to feed them candy to get them to continue talking to you, one of the game’s many currencies which is abundant and easy to earn. Otherwise, a random friend may visit you from time to time and give you their questions and answers until you ask them to leave.
Answering questions and performing other simple tasks in the app awards coins that can be used to purchase clothes for your mii in the Miitomo Shop. There are outfits that can be purchased together or individual pieces that can be picked up separately. Coins can be purchased for real money, but there’s no pressure to do so by the app. Indeed, I’d been playing for days and had to dig around just to check that the option to buy for cash was even there.
While Miitomo really isn’t a game in itself, there is a game contained within, Miitomo Drop, where you can earn clothes by comically dropping one of your friend’s Miis into a pinball-type field and hoping they land on the item you want. Miitomo drop costs either coins or game tickets, the third currency of Miitomo, again easily earned through regular use.
With the clothes you earn and dress your Mii with, the app encourages you to take pictures of your Mii, putting them in a wide variety of entertaining poses and backgrounds.
If you care to share your Mii without making friends with a person, the app makes it easy to create and share a QR code to social media. It seems annoying at first that this code doesn’t translate to a friend request, but you will get over it when you realize how easy it is to make friends with your actual friends on Facebook and Twitter. The three types of currency also seem needlessly complicated at first, but I encourage you to use them toward different tasks.
Words don’t do Miitomo much justice. The app itself is very quirky, clever, and gives you and your friends new ways to express yourself and entertain one another. You may feel you have that already in Facebook and Twitter, but the questions posed in this app usually keep things interesting and thought-provoking. In the end, Miitomo is only as entertaining as you and your friends make it, but Miitomo makes it pretty easy to be entertaining. Considering it’s free, it’s certainly worth the time and energy!