When Nintendo announced their partnership with mobile powerhouse DeNA and plans to release 5 games for iOS and android before the end of 2016, speculation and excitement were rampant over how they would adapt their key franchises to work on mobile devices. There was also some trepidation regarding the free to play model and how the company would monetise their classic games. Nintendo, as they often do, decided do things a little differently than expected, foregoing A Mario or Zelda to create a free to play social media experiment called Miitomo.
Following in the footsteps of the odd Tomodachi Life series, you begin by creating a Mii; an avatar in your own likeness which should be familiar to anyone who has owned a Nintendo console since the Wii. After working on the physical aspects, you can then personalise the speed and tone of its speech and adjust its personality to really bring your Mii to life.
When you’ve put the finishing touches on your Mii you are asked personal questions with the answers you given being shared with your friends using the app. It’s a neat way to find out things you may not know about your friends or even just a way to start a conversation. As in Tomodachi Life, the app features text to speech technology which means you don’t just read your friend’s answer, but see and hear their Mii talking to you making the personal answers more personal, and the weird answers downright bizarre.
Other than that, there’s not a whole lot more to do. You can dress up your Mii by buying clothes using either in game currency earned by completing tasks or by spending real money, you can put your Mii into photos and there’s a pachinko style game you can play to win prizes. While it may sound lacking in content, it’s something you check for a few minutes a day, answer some questions and come back to later.
The launch of the app also coincides with My Nintendo; a loyalty program designed to replace the old Club Nintendo system. Playing Miitomo can earn you points which can then be exchanged for downloadable games or themes for your Nintendo systems.
The initial reception was mostly positive with Miitomo topping the iOS download chart, reaching one million users in just three days and increasing Nintendo’s stock price by 8%. However a week later there are concerns with the long term viability of the app with vocal complaints on Twitter saying they are already bored of Miitomo. Due to interactions with others being central to Miitomo’s charm, it is essential that Nintendo ensures the community remains strong if they want to see sustained success.
Miitomo is already fully playable in English and is set to be released outside of Japan before the end of March.
Guest Contributor: Craig Windle is a kindergarten teacher living in Fukuoka and interested in Japanese, mascots and retro games.