After just about all of its major competitors have already made their foray into the mobile market, it’s finally Nintendo’s turn to step up to the plate. With a major partnership with DeNA, one of the leading mobile developers, they’re poised to actually make a splash in the coming months, which almost no one saw coming. Their first volley is Miitomo, a social media app that’s been downloaded millions of times worldwide, and feeds into their My Nintendo reward system, as well as other channels like Twitter and Facebook. It makes a great first impression, but my interest waned after just a few days.
Miitomo has all of the makings of a Nintendo product. The Miis look and feel identical to the ones featured on the 3DS and Wii U systems. The in-game engine and the locales are a lot like Tomodachi Life, a simulation title released on the 3DS a few years back. You also need a Nintendo account to use the service, which links back to your Nintendo ID, which may or may not already exist. It’s a smooth transition for sure considering that there have been no official Nintendo apps on either Android or iOS before this release.
The same goes for the UI. It’s sleek, easy to use, and changing clothes to linking social accounts is a snap. But once I actually started to use the thing, its limited appeal came creeping in. In short, your only option besides playing a pachinko-like costume reward minigame of sorts (which can be played by way of a limited “ticket” system or with Gold, which can be purchased with microtransactions), is to answer and read questions from your friends. That’s it.
In other words, Miitomo is severely limited by the amount of friends you have. If you’re swimming in Twitter followers or Facebook friends, you’re going to be able to mindlessly flip through silly and amusing anecdotes more often, thus increasing your enjoyment tenfold. As a writer with a public account, I had no trouble meeting people. But even then, it all starts to blend together after a while.
This is because you have no control over who gives you answers. Nintendo has a “candy” currency to sway you by unlocking any answer you want, but it’s not ideal, as you can just randomly sift through the predetermined order anyway. You also have no control over the questions asked, and most of them were a bit too personal for my tastes, so I ended up skipping a great deal. Others are too silly and pointless. If you love joking around on social media with witty answers that don’t match the questions, you’ll have a good time though.
If it sounds like there isn’t much to do with Miitomo, that’s because there isn’t. Based on the agreement you enter with Nintendo there’s a chance they can anonymously collect this research and sell it to third parties (or use it for internal purposes), so there’s a major marketing element to the app too, in addition to its attempts to peddle microtransactions on you based on relationship needs. It’s genius in a way, and very DeNA-like, so it makes perfect sense.
But some of that dirtiness does wash away when I see a funny picture of a friend dressed up like a slice of bread. Go figure!