Could Miitopia Be Nintendo’s Next Mobile Title?

You only wish your party looked this fresh.

We at the Korner would like to thank Jon Cartwright of GameXplain for inspiring today’s post:

From a gaming standpoint, that’s easy: Miitopia, despite the fact that the game basically plays itself through a stock storyline, is a really, really, really good game. It’s so good that it stole my 2017 Game of the Year award from Splatoon 2 (and for those of you who recall my never-ending stream of clips on my Twitter account, which has only stopped because the Switch caps the amount of videos you can have on an SD card at 1000, that saying something). Through its superb use of character interactions and customization, Miitopia was a fun diversion during my last extended entrapment at home three years ago (and has even resurfaced a few times during the current pandemic). It’s the sort of game that I think deserves another shot at glory.

Despite this feeling, however, I don’t think Miitopia would make a great Nintendo Switch game. Its use of touch controls would make playing in docked mode a hassle, the ubiquitous (and hilarious) Miis of the Wii and Wii U eras are being phased out, and its mediocre sales (1.15 million by the end of 2018, or approximately .23 Animal Crossing: New Horizons) indicates that not too many people were itching to pay $40 to play this in the first place (let alone the $60 going rate for first-party Switch titles). Despite the potential savings from porting a game rather than developing a title from scratch, this one doesn’t seem to be worth the investment.

The Switch, however, isn’t Nintendo’s only option these days. The company has been dipping its toes into the smartphone pool for a few years now, and the results have been mixed thus far. Pokémon Go remains a popular title and games like Mario Kart Tour, Fire Emblem: Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp have had their moments (the jury still seems to be out on Dr. Mario World, Goomba tower or not), but Super Mario Run has been mostly forgotten now, and Miitomo never truly caught people’s attention. Could Miitopia‘s story and combat mechanics be the extra twist that Miitomo needed to be successful? I think it’s worth finding out.

From a financial standpoint, bringing Miitopia to smartphones seems like a low-risk option. Not much would have to be changed from a story perspective (once the original game was beaten, you could revisit the Travelers’ Hub for an endless set of quests to embark on, giving the game solid replay value), much of the online infrastructure such as Mii Central is still operational, and the game has a few convenient hooks where (as much as it hurts my soul) microtransactions could be incorporated (game tickets for rock-paper scissors and roulette games, gold for standard item purchases, etc.). The touchscreen mechanics of the 3DS would map to smartphone and tablet screens much easier than to the Joy-Cons or Pro Controller (and as a 90% auto-runner, there wouldn’t be much of a need for movement controls), and the graphics could be scaled to allows the controls to fit comfortably on the same screen as the action. (Perhaps some of the customization options from Miitomo, such as more varied outfits, be brought over to Miitopia as well? Or maybe a multiplayer battle cooperative or competitive battle option?) People may balk at paying $40 for this game, but a sub-$10 entry fee (heck, it could even be free to play) with premium customizable content available for a fee? This feels like an easier sell to me, and something that could break even with a smaller user base.

Of course, there are concerns to this proposal, the most notable being an utter lack of recognizable IP that might draw people to the game (why would you play a Nintendo game without Mario, Link, or Isabelle?). However, having an army of OCs in a variety of roles is part of the game’s secret saucewho needs Mario when you and your friends get to battle your annoying gym instructor over the fate of the universe? Add a few hooks to display your achievements on social media, and you’ve got a game that’s ripe for flexing, meme-making, and all those crazy things the internet loves to do.  Besides, there are ways to work in some callbacks to beloved characters (like, say, all those amiibo unlockables?), so there will still be a place for everyone’s favorite characters.

Miitopia was (and remains) a fun, quirky experience that was a joy to play through, and it deserves a second chance at life. Nintendo’s continued foray into mobile gaming seems like the perfect avenue for just such a chance, providing a low-risk opportunity to find a wider audience for the game and even provide some additional revenue for the Big N to pay back Tom Nook (come on, you know President Furukawa is as deep in debt to Nook as the rest of us). With little else of note coming from Nintendo in 2020, this seems like as good as time as any to dust off a forgotten 3DS adventure and re-introduce the world to the joy of stomping the Dark Lord out of existence.