Miitomo (iOS) Preview

By Adam Riley 17.03.2016 17

Review for Miitomo on iOS

Despite rebuffing the pressure piled on by shareholders for so long, Nintendo is finally making its move into the realm of smartphone gaming…or at least 'applications,' for the time being, since its launch title, Miitomo, is more of a social platform aimed at bringing a unique spin on regular communication between friends, rather than the sort of entertainment product most expect from the company. Cubed3 got the chance to take an early look at the software that has launched in Japan today and is expected later this month in many other countries.

Regular text messages seem to be old hat now, with many nowadays relying on WhatsApp perhaps more than they would like to admit, whilst the Japanese love LINE and Koreans adore KakaoTalk. These three applications are examples of chat modules with a twist in that simple communication can be brought to life through emoji, emoticons, and the like, with cute little animations especially being prevalent for users of KakaoTalk, and key words almost bursting out of the screen on LINE. Ease of communication - it is all the rage. How could Nintendo ever compete against established platforms? Well, it has an advantage in the form of the Mii characters that have been so popular since the Wii explosion many years back.

The avatars became so loved that Nintendo pushed on with the Animal Crossing-esque, Japanese-only Tomodachi Collection on DS, as well as its 3DS successor, the widely acclaimed Tomodachi Life. "Tomo," for those intrigued, is short for 'friend' in Japanese, and "Tomodachi" is almost like a group of friends that are cool to hang out with. There or thereabouts, anyway. The point is that Nintendo's loveable Mii characters have befriended millions upon millions of gamers and non-gamers alike across Wii, DS, 3DS, and Wii U - spanning nearly a decade. Going off the Wii userbase alone, that is over 100 million people exposed to Mii avatars, and there are over 200 Mii creations registered worldwide. Even if just a mere fraction of those consumers jump aboard and grab the free Miitomo app then it will be deemed a huge success, and a big-time competitor in the already bustling mobile marketplace. Thankfully, existing Mii creations can be easily imported to the new app thanks to the QR Code system, although there is still the option to build up a new one from scratch or use a real photo to allow the system to attempt to make a similar-looking Mii. Options a-plenty.

Screenshot for Miitomo on iOS

Ever used a smartphone? If the answer is 'no,' that would be quite shocking. For the 99% that answered 'yes,' though, Miitomo is instantly accessible. It is the sort of product that needs no real explanation once in-hand. Even after just a short presentation at Nintendo's office, once the handset was passed across, because of the intuitive layout of all the in-app icons, mimicking the positioning and style of the smartphones in general, no tutorial or hand-holding was required in the slightest. This is the perfect example of a pick-up-and-play experience - an app for all ages and all levels. Jump on in, create a personalised Mii, tweak the character trait bars, and ta-daa, the magic happens and the personalities are brought to life on the small screen.

Each Mii is now not only visually similar, but also represents your style of talking and acting in general, even going as far as copying voice tone, with users able to manually adjust various sliders to make movements and gestures more active/shy, or have a speedier voice at different pitches, with varying intonations for speech, and so on. With so many Mii styles to choose from in the first place, along with crazy outfits to suit all tastes, the connection between user and avatar is closer than ever before. There are even some conversational starters, with initial questions logged so that there are some intriguing topics to be had once the next step of adding friends has been completed. After all, everyone needs some form of ice breaker, right? Oh, and do not worry about making mistakes on the Mii setup side, since all aspects can be tweaked afterwards, as well as keeping a track on how the Mii has developed and what rewards have been gained (yes, the Mii can level-up by being fashion conscious!).

Screenshot for Miitomo on iOS

The easiest way to add friends is by being with someone face-to-face and adding via a Bluetooth method where both people need to choose the same shape - club, heart, spade or diamond - before the connection is confirmed. However, there is also the chance to leverage friend lists from Facebook, Twitter, and so on, although because Nintendo is currently playing it calm and not wanting to have the wrong people connecting with each other - for user safety reasons - even when hooked up to other social media channels, there is no option to just add in absolutely everyone, meaning a potentially laborious job of scrolling through a list of friends also using the app or sending out requests to those that do not currently use it. Not ideal for some, but it is something that is currently being gauged, and if enough people request a relaxation on it, so that all people can be added at once, updates may come further down the line. However, for now, it is a closed, personal chat module for those closest to you, and it works fantastically well, indeed proving to be a comical way of chatting. Especially with the Mii characters reading any messages written aloud, complete with distinctive voices, amusing actions depending on certain trigger words, and, of course, all done whilst wearing the choices of user-defined fashion (as wacky as they may be!), all within a personalised home setting. Responses to comments can be given hearts if particularly loved, or replies can come in the form of photos with wacky remarks on, and it is easy to track what has and has not been read so far. There are numerous methods of interacting with friends, which makes other chat apps seem quite antiquated when going back to them.

There are other aspects to make Miitomo even more engaging, though, since most people will already use their app of choice and will not be tempted just for Mii characters alone. Nintendo being Nintendo, then, has added incentives - a coin system whereby more are accrued for changing Mii outfits each day, answering more questions posed by friends, and so on. The more interaction there is with the app, the more rewards are given, and whilst there is an option to use in-app purchases for extra coins, Nintendo has attempted to follow the route of the highly addictive Pokémon Shuffle and throw in enough incentives to keep using Miitomo and get rewarded for doing so. It then becomes a cycle of spending the earned currency to grab new items, using the app more to use said items, and then earning extra in the process. Sure, there will be those desperate to skip several steps and pay for that privilege, but it is certainly not a prerequisite of the app to splash the cash.

Screenshot for Miitomo on iOS

There is a mini-game feature thrown in for good measure, as well, and rather like the StreetPass games in the Mii Plaza on 3DS, points collected can be used to jump into this 'Miitomo Drop' feature, whereby the user-created Mii is positioned at the top of the screen and then dropped, bouncing around on its way from top to bottom, hopefully landing on a cool new item to be used elsewhere in the app. Failing to grab anything exciting, though, still leads to 'candy' being grabbed, which can be used to unlock certain conversation threads that may have been locked for whatever reason. Want to try something else? Why not enter the Miifoto Contest, taking the most outlandish photos and popping the Mii into it using the plethora of positional choices available - sat perched on the arm of a chair, lounging around on the floor, striking a shocked pose, and many more - and wowing friends with the creativity, maybe even winning prizes in the process? Not interested, though? Well, just feel free to share creations via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or other services instead, all through the app itself.

Nintendo has tried to not over-complicate matters with Miitomo, yet has attempted to bring in as much of its experience as possible from free-to-play experiments over the past year or so to make this new venture extremely robust. Having 'Missions' on offer, on top of the regular coin rewards, means that bonuses are given for those wanting to achieve all goals - again, similar to the Mii Plaza targets on 3DS. Sign in to Miiverse or Nintendo eShop weekly? Get a bunch of Platinum Points! Purchase some new software through the eShop? Get some Gold Points! What else is there? Want to grab the hottest items? Just check out the Twitter integration where trending items will pop up… Worried about missing out on friends when not using the app? No worries, since messages will be waiting upon return. Think your Mii will look too similar to those of friends? Well, never fear, since in-app clothing is varied dependent on the user, with new goodies added to the store regularly. Want to pop the Mii into various cool surroundings and share with others? Easy. Save to Miifoto or take a regular screen-grab and send around. Speaking of Miifoto, actually, there is also the chance to get randomised backgrounds, and sharing with friends can unlock different settings for both parties, similar to how the puzzle-panels work within Puzzle Swap. There is just so much included…This is possibly one of the most comprehensive free apps available, and all without intrusive pop-up advertising. Prepare from Nintendomination…

Screenshot for Miitomo on iOS

Final Thoughts

It is here - the big first step that fans have been eagerly awaiting. Is it the fantastic gaming experience some were hoping for? Certainly not. However, it is a strong step in the right direction by a company renowned for testing the waters with new ideas and building strongly on the initial foundation laid. Miitomo does not replace existing social media channels, but hopes to complement them perfectly, enhancing the world of messaging and making it more than just the odd bit of chat amongst friends, but taking the Miiverse concept to the masses and building a tight-knit community where plenty of fun can be had by all. There are so many features already included that given how it is free, this is an essential download, even for non-Nintendo gamers. Head over to the official website today to pre-register prior to the official launch later this month - after all, setting up a My Nintendo account before launch will bag you some special Platinum Points for the upcoming rewards programme.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Actually kind of looking forward to this, seems like a nice bit of fun.

Our member of the week

Soooo... when is it out? Seriously Nintendo, it's supposed to release this month and with less than two weeks remaining till the end of it, we still don't know when.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Ross: People are saying this is like Tomodachi Life Lite. I've not played TL, though, but I use chat apps a lot and can see this becoming a great alternative to them.

Rudy: Well, the Japanese launch seems to be going smoothly, and Nintendo Europe just released launch trailers, so I'd guess at next week Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

Such lack of communication around it and hype building is worrying methinks. How are people who do not already follow Nintendo gonna hear about it if they don't proactively push it?

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

That's great to hear, Adam! I personally love Tomodachi Life and had a lot of fun with it. I still go on it occasionally. I think this is the sort of thing I'll enjoy.

Agree with you Rudy, not much promotion, but then I think most phone apps don't either. I've only seen a few games being advertised around, usually by some celebrity, like Arnold or Mariah Carey. x) Is there any promotion on Nintendo systems? Like eShop?

( Edited 18.03.2016 12:17 by Marzy )

Our member of the week

Maybe it's up to Nintendo to ask for it to be put up on the front page of the App Store and Google Play Store, maybe they have to pay something for it to be featured or something, but if it's supposed to become a thing that would attract smartphone users back onto Nintendo platforms once more, they ought to step it up in terms of spreading the word about it. Because if they rely on Nintendo Directs or the Nintendo eShop itself to advertise it, then only people who are already into Nintendo systems will hear about it and download it

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I wouldn't be surprised if it gets to be a Featured App on the front page of both stores.

Oh, and I remembered just now - part of the delay is also whilst the currency conversions are worked out for Europe. Nintendo doesn't just want to throw it out with a direct conversion from Yen, so is trying to determine fair rates compared to other f2p apps with in-app purchases.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

Adam Riley said:
fair rates compared to other f2p apps with in-app purchases.

Oh boy, this doesn't bode well XD !!

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Smilie I'm playing Pokémon Shuffle's iOS version at the moment, and the rate at which you gain coins/hearts is FAR better than the 3DS eShop version, so it's clear Nintendo's already been testing the water not only through its 3DS eShop f2p titles, but using The Pokémon Company as a testing ground for iOS development...and seems to be getting it right so far.

I have faith that Miitomo is going to be very fair indeed, to the point where people will only really need to use real cash if they're impatient and can't be bothered gaining 'free' currency by chatting with friends, changing costumes, linking accounts, and the various other Mission objectives provided Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

Yeah, Pokémon Picross on the 3DS gave me like... an hour or two of enjoyment and then BOOM, a brick wall, can't progress any further basically without coughing up cash... or I would have to take out my 3DS every single day and play for two minutes the challenge puzzles that give picrites and hope that in a couples weeks or months time I have enough of those to continue progressing. That for me was bad F2P XD. But good to hear that the iOS version of Shuffle gets it rather right. I've been playing PAC-MAN 256 a lot on Android, it's crazy addicitive, and it's F2P done right too IMHO, so I'm sure it CAN be done right.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

You should try Shuffle on Android... I have to say I've not tried Picross on 3DS. I've been too busy with PC games lately.

Anyway...during the demonstration, I asked if some of the bonuses you can collect in Miitomo will be transferable to the 6 or 7 other Nintendo titles being released on mobile between now and next March. The answer? It hasn't been decided yet. I'd hazard a guess at "yes" since it makes a lot of sense, encouraging people to use Miitomo as much as possible.

The other thing I asked about was a font size adjustment. Currently there isn't any option to change it, for those with weaker vision. Considering Nintendo's all for getting every demographic possible, it needs to allow the font to be made bigger for the older generation, as well. The response was "good idea, but won't people with poor sight use a larger tablet?" to which I said, "Really? How many times do you see poor Granny being lumbered with the kids' discarded handsets, normally smaller phones??" It's been noted and fed back, so hopefully it'll be implemented further down the line in an update.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

Well I do know a 91 years old gramps who uses an iPad XD, but He got rid of his iPhone 5c which for phone purpose was too complicated for him to use and admittedly it was also too small to read on. But he does use an iPad for skype and checking his email. for his phone purpose he just uses an older style mobile phone with a big screen and buttons. But he's not the type to use Miitomo though, unless his grandchildren would use them too, but would he find interesting to know about others by answering questions, I doubt so. It's not in the habits of the older generations to do that that way XD. Quite frankly it reminds me more of some old FB apps that were popular at one point where people had to answer questions about others, saying what they THOUGHT we were like. Like "Do you think Rudy ever had a one night stand" that sort of silly questions ('course no one answered yes XD). I don't find the concept of Miitomo to be very different, from what I can judge.

( Edited 19.03.2016 12:48 by RudyC3 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Just seen it's already hit 1 million downloads in just 3 days, in Japan alone! It's off to a fantastic start! Smilie

Our member of the week

Well it's free so anyone remotely interested has easy access to it, it's just one download away after all. What will remain to be seen is how many of those 1 million are going to actually keep using it regularly. I've downloaded some free communication apps myself that I haven't used much at all. I've got the Skype app, and I have used it maybe twice in 3 or 4 years XD.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Our member of the week

I've just watched a video by megumi sakaue who does a lot of video testing of games, and she compared the time it takes to load Miitomo on an iPhone compared to other hugely popular mobiles games such as Clash of Clans. She timed it at 15 seconds from loading the app to actually being in gameplay to the mere 3 second of Clash of Clans, both apps not being in cache or already running in the background. She made comparisons to other games popular in Japan that I don't know about, but Miitomo falls pretty much onto the slowest end of the spectrum, and from what I understand complained that it's a severe handicap for a mobile app, that every day users of mobile games would definitely find cumbersome, if they are in public transports and just doing a short trip between train stations, they want to be able to take out their phone and access their stuff as instantly as possible, and Miitomo doesn't achieve that apparently. That's kind of worrisome.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

That could be something related to it always needing to be connected to Wi-Fi/Data - apparently if you lose reception, it stops working. Bit of an odd one since even Facebook lets you post whilst offline, and then it just updates when the connection kicks back in.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

Adam Riley said:
You should try Shuffle on Android...

I took you up on that and I'm finding it very addictive. You're right, I've been playing a couple levels at intervals through the day, and never running out of hearts basically. I couldn't get into the game on 3DS, maybe because I like playing these type of games with my finger and using the finger on the tiny screen of the 3DS is harder to do, especially on a resistive one, but on smart device I find myself just wanting to pick it up and play it for a couple minutes whenever I can and my skills at those type of games making it feel very rewarding Smilie. The special stages though are either meant to make you want to dish out money, or they're meant to be played only once you've built a decent enough team of powerful pokémons of the right type, but I ended up wasting 500 coins on the first stage in there XD.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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