Nintendo’s first foray into the mobile social space has been eagerly awaited for years. Today, Miitomo launched with the promise of “one-of-a-kind conversations” that “bring you and your friends together like never before.” And frankly, they managed to do exactly that. Miitomo isn’t the most incredible or enlightening social networking experience I’ve ever had, but my very first interaction with the first friend I was able to find actually made me laugh out loud. And as a result, the conversation between our Miis — which I never would have had otherwise — got me to head deeper into the experience.
Setting up your Mii is easy — pick out your features, set your name, your voice and your “personality” which is assembled from characteristics such as “seriousness” or “quirkiness” that can be plotted on spectrum. After your Mii is set up, you answer somewhat random questions about your favorite things or recent events in your life, such as “what is your favorite food?” or “what is the last thing you purchased?” Once you’ve answered a handful of questions it’s time to jump in. The entire Miitomo experience revolves around two things- interacting with friends and buying or acquiring outfits for your Mii. So unless you’re satisfied with just dressing up an avatar, you’re going to need to find some friends.
There are three options for finding friends: Facebook, Twitter or a face-to-face option to use with someone else right next to you. At this point in mobile social networking, the option not to connect through existing contacts on my device (à la Snapchat) seems absurd to me. I don’t want to have to wade through all of my Facebook and Twitter contacts to find the (maybe) 30 key people I might actually want some Mii-time with. But, maybe that’s part of the charm — talking with people I’m loosely connected with but I might not otherwise engage with on a deeper, if totally idiosyncratic, level. I suppose that will be the longtail test of Miitomo for me.
Adding friends, answering questions and commenting on your friends’ answers earns you gold coins. Those gold coins can be used to purchase outfits or to play one of the several themed minigames within Miitomo. Miitomo Drop is a Plinko-style drop minigame where you can earn exclusive clothing items only available for a limited time. The themed games currently available are pretty odd; one game revolves entirely around bread, offering up a full-body baguette suit as a prize to covet. This might have something to do with the first question I was asked (what is your favorite food?) to which I replied “Sourdough bread with some salty butter.” From there, I actually noticed my friend was asked, “What is your favorite kind of bread?” So maybe I was offered the bread-themed minigame because of my bread affinity? If so, I’d be impressed.
The questions Miitomo asks of your friends can prompt some pretty funny and interesting responses which do add to the charm of the experience. But ultimately, it’s the charm and charisma of your friends, not Miitomo itself, that drives how good your experience will be. However, there were some other notable details I appreciated. I was immediately impressed that Miitomo was able to pronounce my name perfectly on the first shot; this is something only 5% of the people I’ve ever met IRL have been able to do. I was also excited to see that there were no arbitrary gender designations on outfits and all clothing items were available to earn or purchase.
Miifoto is another great feature which allows you to take photos with your Mii and those of your friends. The personalization features are exceptional, from expressive faces to specific positioning of your head or body, plus a wide range of emoji stickers. Import your own photo backgrounds or use some of the funky backgrounds Miifoto provides.
Ultimately, Miitomo currently feels like the early days of Facebook: we are all just kinda standing around, looking for stuff to say and photos to share. But with time, more to do, and more provocative, interesting questions, Miitomo could become a truly popular way to connect with friends. In the meantime and as promised, Miitomo does give you an experience you wouldn’t otherwise have, even if it’s not the most exciting experience ever. Miitomo is available now on the App Store and Google Play.