Following on from our reader-voted Top 50 Games of the Decade, Nintendo Life staff members will be picking their personal favourite Nintendo games between the years 2010-2019. Today, Alan sums up what made Nintendo's short-lived mobile experience so gripping...
Miitomo is not just my Nintendo Game of the Decade, it’s Nintendo’s Game of the Decade. Whether or not you choose to acknowledge that is not my problem.
On the long, winding road towards my favourite Nintendo experience over the last ten years, I found out the hard way that no number of awarded degrees from multiple academic institutions could 'mature' me out from my seemingly carnal desires for fully-voiced Miis that can say “butts”. Why would Nintendo make this game? I don’t know. But I have proof that they did.
Miitomo was Nintendo's highly-anticipated mobile game debut, released on Android and iPhone back in 2016. It was, at the end of the day, the product of dozens of engineers, designers and artists all collaborating with Nintendo so we could say “butts” to our friends. Again, that’s what I used it for. That was the best way to play it.
I sense your scepticism that anyone would hold this game in such high regard. Admittedly, while the game hit 3 million downloads in 24 hours and 10 million within two months, it was largely abandoned by most people shortly thereafter, then discontinued only two years later.
But tell me, Nintendo fan, what do you most wish you could do on your Nintendo Switch system today (I mean, besides play Metroid)? Here in the year 2020, is it not true that you still cannot talk with your friends while playing rounds of Smash and Mario Kart end to end? Well, in Miitomo, here was a game only about talking to your friends. I mean, that’s literally the only thing you could really do with it.
If you think about it, Miitomo was the pure inverse of Nintendo game philosophy. You didn’t struggle to communicate here, you were rewarded for it.
As a concept, Miitomo is like if someone took psychologist Arthor Aron’s 36 Questions to Fall In Love survey – a popular questionnaire circulating in the middle of the last decade which promised participants a newfound profundity with whomever they took it with – and bolted push notifications to it. Except with Miitomo, its ambitions were lower than love; Nintendo had its sights on making you feel strange ways towards your friends: confusion, intrigue, anger... maybe even shock.
To be a part of this social experiment, all one needed to do was download the free app and design an avatar of themselves using a more robust version of Nintendo’s ubiquitous Mii creator. This was easy enough, given this was a task literally 100 million people were already familiar with thanks to the Nintendo Wii. After you were done, your little 'you' would simply stand there, staring up at you from your phone screen like a modern-day lady in the radiator. It would ask you weird crap about yourself. It would ask you weird crap about your friends. It was bizarre.
Whether or not players found this boring or exciting probably depended on how many of their friends were on it. It also hinged on what kind of friends you had.
What do I mean by that? Well, take for instance this question/answer sequence I once had with Nintendo Life’s very own Alex Olney:
He probably didn’t think this was very funny. He (literally) did not like this answer. If I had to bet, Alex must have uninstalled Miitomo rather quickly after this. (Or maybe he blocked me.)
The “real” way to play Miitomo, so said Nintendo ahead of its release, was to harness the platform of cell phones to cleverly learn intimacies about your friends. What sort of foods do they like? What do they do for fun? What are their earliest memories?
Here is a relevant anecdote about Miitomo being played as intended: a Miitomo-playing friend of mine once actually invited myself and some friends over, secretly using all of our answers regarding what our favourite foods were to cook us personalized meals. This was an incredibly thoughtful gesture Nintendo themselves would likely be delighted to know they helped incite.
But like most people, my friend soon stopped played the game. If I had to guess, the people who used Miitomo in earnest were the ones who most quickly got bored with it.
But as you know by now, I did not use Miitomo in earnest. For me, the game was an exercise in bone-soaked cynicism. It was a platform to one-up my friends with as much silliness as I could possibly crank out. It was a chance to turn the tables on squeaky-clean Nintendo and make my Mii say stupid stuff while wearing stupid things. It was glorious. And because I played it this way, this was probably the reason my kind-hearted friend handed me a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos at that same dinner... he thought that was seriously my favourite food.
What’s your favourite season? Mine is arugula. What’s your favourite TV show? I told people on the app, “The scratchy static of my untuned television set, which recently began projecting a malefic accident scene only I can see. It’s on the CW.”
I used all of you. The short-lived audience from the hype of this being Nintendo’s first mobile game gave me power. I had more fun with Miitomo than with Nintendo’s future mobile titles like Super Mario Run, Dr. Mario World, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp combined.
I don’t blame myself for using Miitomo to troll. No, this was largely Nintendo’s fault, given that the game was directed by Yoshio Sakamoto, known by most people as the director of Super Metroid, but known by cool people as the producer of the 3DS title Tomodachi Life. In Tomodachi Life, the “goal” of the game – and I would use multiple quotation marks if that were grammatically appropriate – was to live among your friends. How did you do that? Well, yet again, you created them through a Mii maker, you stuck them in rooms, then you did stuff like give them weird-as-hell, two-dimensional gifts, appear on quiz shows together, have love quarrels, and go row boating. Sometimes your Miis would have fights, then dress up as astronauts, then explore dreams. Nothing in Tomodachi Life made any sense. It was, in itself, a trolling of the entire life simulator genre.
Miitomo, then, using the identical engine and development team and graphical style of Tomodachi Life, finally brought us the singular aspect sorely missing from its predecessor: online functionality. You didn’t have to make-believe with Miitomo, you actually were talking to your friends that on the 3DS were simply stand-ins. The one major problem with Miitomo was that literally every single other gameplay element, minus a game of Plinko, was stripped out so that it could be a quick mobile experience.
So is it really my fault that I infused the spirit of Tomodachi Life back where it belonged? Of course it isn’t. I’d like to think that when I paid real life money so I could upload pictures of male strippers into my Miitomo house that Yoshio Sakamoto would have been proud of me.
Miitomo was not just Nintendo being unintentionally weird on a massive, global level, it was Nintendo accidentally leaving the front door unlocked. It was Super Mario Maker without filters or restrictions. (And okay, sure, without the gameplay either, whatever.)
After witnessing a blockbuster run of unforgettable gems like Splatoon, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Super Mario Odyssey this last decade, I know Nintendo. I know how they think, I know what they set out to do, and I know when they’ve succeeded. And I know chance-taking nonsense from eminent creators when I see it.
Can Link say “butts” in Breath of the Wild? No. Link can’t say anything.
Miitomo is the best.
Miitomo is dead.
Long live Miitomo.
I miss mitomo. It was the only game to get me to play on my phone actively.
I almost forgot about Mitomo. It wasn't a bad game at all, I just got bored and didn't have too many friends using it.
You're messing with this one man
I fully stand by this as well. It was so so fun the first month it released, but unfortunately was unable to keep its audience.
I don't want to ever hear Link say butts. And you, sir, are crazy for thinking Miitomo is even worth considering being game of the decade!
..that moment with the food is cool though, gotta give Miitomo credit for something at least. It wasn't entirely without its charm. But I couldn't care less that it's gone.
I normally don't read Nintendo Life editorials in full, but this was was just begging to be read.
I didn't regret it.
I never did get it. It was veeery strange and somewhat funny but I couldn’t get into it. Hugely random way for Nintendo to enter the mobile market though.
LOL. For me as an adult, there was just so much missed potential on its part. I wish Nintendo had not been afraid to embrace the idea of social media as this could have been a great service to integrate with NSO. But there were some good aspects to it that were fun.
For my now 6-year-old daughter? It was one of the greatest apps in the world. She absolutely loved Miitomo. More so the ability to find Miis that looked like her favorite characters. She really loved it when I set her up with her own Mii and would send her messages.
I disagree, but I love when people present out-there opinions. It shows the other side of the story and gives me a better view on things
Meme machine of the decade
They really need to bring system-level Mii customization to the online service like they have in SMM2!
Never heard of it.
Yikes. Guess the polite/passive-aggressive thing to say would be “well, everyone’s entitled to their own opinions!” But if I’m being honest, calling miitomo Nintendo’s best game of the decade is roughly the same as just declaring out loud that you’re clinically insane.
Miitomo suffered from A) Cult of Personality and B) not having a way to keep people meeting new people like them and thus engaged. On top of that, the Miis and Nintendo's over-quirkiness when it comes to "trying too hard to be all-appealing" made this untenable in the long-term. The text-to-speech was fun, albeit slow.
@BAN - Sure, I'll take that.
While I liked Miitomo.... go home, Nintendo Life, you’re drunk.
Nintendo missed a beat here: they could have offloaded Switch friend management and Mii creation to Miitomo rather than killing it. In doing so new Switch owners would already have a friend's list in place and a nice replacement for the old 'Everybody Votes' Channel on Wii.
Also of note: the Nintendo website still hosts a picture of your Miitomo Mii as your profile pic after all these years. Mine still has a white hoodie and striped scarf on.
Not sure about this one chief.
I could never really get into Miitomo and don't miss is.
Guess per the first paragraph that's my problem.
I'll live with that
Y'all must not play a lot of video games...
@UmbreonsPapa yeah, I think they could have done more with it, but I think it was really a beta to work out kinks in mobile before they released a big game.
People might laugh, but I felt Street Pass was the game of the decade for me, or at least a close second to mk8....
i'll have what you've been smoking
Miitomo was a lot if missed potential. But it did give me a virtual house where I could hang the whales in space poster from the sbmail "no loafing," so it was still worth it.
@Monkeido You really should refrain from using words you don't understand the meaning of 😂
@rockodoodle I forgot about street pass, possibly one of the most used features on my 3ds, unfortunately I didn’t get into it until About a year after the new 3ds was released but I loved collecting the puzzle pieces.
So yeah I tried Miitomo and thought it wasn't very good let alone really much of a game. Any chance of putting a serious thought in games of the decade discussion came to a big halt by putting this on the list! I respect that someone can have an opinion about this, but there are so many great nintendo games that this really doesn't belong on something like this. I also did not like anything mii related for the most part. The whole mii thing never seemed like that good of an idea even.
@Damo I guess you're referring to the word "nice"?
Aaaaaand that’s enough Internet for me today
This was the only game I've ever gotten my wife to play on her phone. ONLY ONE. We had so much fun with it. Alas, it was killed and people will never remember how fresh my Mii was.
@WesEds and I am pissed at Nintendo bc I lost my save data, then they all but discontinued support for it....I wish they either would just let u play unlimited or would allow you to add friends somehow to play....
I would not mind seey a similar set of minigames for the Switch.....
I would pay for the mii photo editor in miitomo on switch or mobile. I thoroughly enjoyed it as a creative outlet. It was a weird experiment that I remember fondly.
I loved miitomo. It was adorably silly. the animations, the sounds, everything was just weird and quirky and didnt make much sense. Thats why I loved it and I agree, you had to have the right friends to enjoy this "game" with. I did and it was super funny!
Not so weird as I'd probably say Pokemon Shuffle. I've been playing it nearly four years, and have two games going, one my New 3DS and one on the old. I've clocked the game's international time played at 999.59 hours on the New 3DS, while the old 3DS is over 900 hours. The activity log says almost 1100 hours played on the New 3DS so it's over 2000 hours total. Not bad for a free game! I've caught all pokemon on both games too, with the final pokemon, Primal Groudon on the final expert stage, caught a few months back. I've S-ranked all the main stages all all except the final two expert stages. Going through the ultra stages now (main stages that require double the damage).
Oh for goodness sake.
I think, from a financial point of view, Nintendo entering the mobile market is very important for the company and whatever game they started with would have been featured here.
And in that sense, I agree it was very important. My personal extremely low opinion of mobile gaming aside, there is no denying the financial importance of the market - Nintendo needed to get a piece of that while they still could.
While you or I may not like mobile gaming personally, the importance it has to the industry in 2020 is undeniable.
Miitomo was awesome, particularly for making (3D model) avatar pics and comics. Some of those costume items looked really great too. Would've been better if it were outside of the mobile pay scheme side of gaming and more like animal crossing or tomodachi life (pay once to own).
Despite it not having much popularity, I enjoyed it a lot and was sad to see it go
I'll always look back fondly to when the 'question of the day' would be an innocent statement that was accidentally turned into a political war zone. Miss you miitomo ;_;
Miitomo always seemed like one of those minor projects that never took off, I wouldn't consider it "game of the decade" material. Heck it barely even qualified as a game.
I really liked it, it just needed to be integrated in some way with the 3DS and WiiU e.g like the 3DS StreetPass function or all those Miis that storm your screen on the WiiU.
Miitomo was so much fun as an actual positive social media app. I loved reading my then girlfriend's answers to Nintendo's well designed questions and trying to make her laugh with my own. In that way it reminded me of the early days of Facebook back when Walls were a thing and silly apps were rare enough that all your mates would use the same ones and you could learn a lot of fun things about each other and enjoy each other's sense of humour.
I don't think the "game" was well built for longevity though. Also, I don't think it was Nintendo's best game of the decade and I don't think you do either - this is just one final troll in your Miitomo career of trolling isn't it!
Miitomo will forever be in MY LEG, because I can play as MY MOM in Super Smash Bros and other games :' )
It was alright. Not the best game, not the worst. It just seemed like it could have had more features. It was pretty fun for a while though. I think Breath of the Wild is my game of the decade.
Would love to see Tomodachi Life and Miitopia on Switch.
Now this is bad comedy. There was nothing to do; it was like they cut out all the content from Tomodachi to try to con people to put money into a phone game.
I love Miitomo and i miss it a lot, specially the Miifoto feature. I really wish Nintendo would atleast had given us a back Miifoto as a separate app or something.
I also loved and miss Miiverse a lot too.
Tomodachi Life was a much better experience in my opinion. Miitomo just got so boring. I was done with it after about 2 weeks. Nintendo didn’t do enough to keep it interesting until it was too late. If they had dropped Nintendo clothes earlier, or some better reason to keep playing maybe it would have had better legs. A nice experiment I guess. A game of the decade though? Eh, can’t say I agree, cause nearly everyone here had completely forgotten about it, but everyone has a opinion.
@rockodoodle have yet yeah? Not really used my 3ds in a while as I’ve already built up a backlog of switch games I need to get through
I think it's time to bring the Miis back full time. Tomodachi Life Online + full Mii functionality on the Switch + MiiVerse NSO + a new MiiTomo app tied into all of this.
Those who scoffed at the Miis being a leftover from the casual Wii days have already gotten that Nintendo is serious about "real" gaming with the Switch. And those who miss their Miis (like me) would welcome it with open arms.
I quite liked Miitomo, but I loved the StreetPass games and puzzle pieces. Always wondered why they never put the games etc in Miitomo. Or allowed the app to collect players and then transferred them to a game on the Switch. They had their reasons, I guess.
Anyone who grew tired of Miitomo was clearly using it all wrong or sadly didn't have the good fortune of finding the right group of people to play with.
Horribly underrated, imo.
I've mentioned it several times on this site in the past..
This game was a Godsend for RPs & Writers in many ways!
But even at its core, as someone who enjoys captions, dress up, & being stupid with friends..
The loss of this app was such a devastating blow, personally.
I feel this game would have been perfect as a streetpass game, and can see how it can be abused..
Still.. How neat would it be to have it revived on the switch?
I can't express just how much joy it would bring me if they released a follow up to Tomodachi life..with Miitopia & Miitomo elements.
At the very least, letting us hold on to it to play offline would be enough ..
❗Miitomo and PokéMon Go are the only two Games I care/d about on SmartPhone.
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