About a year ago, we learned that Nintendo was going to start releasing apps for smartphones, and it had us worried. For a long time, Nintendo properties had only appeared on Nintendo systems, with rare exceptions.
On March 31, 2016, Nintendo released their first mobile app, titled Miitomo. It’s not a game per se, but a social platform designed to connect friends through Miis. I’ve spent a few days with the app, and I’m ready to give you the scoop on Miitomo.
Miitomo was one of many things that Nintendo released last week; we covered the rest of the Nintendo news in a separate post — including the new My Nintendo rewards program and new Nintendo Accounts — so don’t miss that!
Getting Set Up
To get started, download Miitomo for Android or iOS. Once you launch the app, pick your country and agree to the terms and conditions that nobody ever reads. When you sign in, you’ll have several methods to choose from.
If you haven’t already created a new Nintendo Account, it’s a good idea to do so now. By creating one, you’ll be able to earn rewards inside Miitomo for the new My Nintendo rewards program. You can also sign into Miitomo on multiple devices, and you won’t lose your data if you delete the app. You can create a new Nintendo Account right from inside the app, sign into yours, or continue without it.
Making Your Mii
Next, it’s time to make your Mii! You can use your device’s camera to snap a photo of yourself that will turn into a Mii, create one from scratch, import a Mii from your 3DS or Wii U using a QR code, or use the Mii from your Nintendo Account, if you linked one. Next, you’ll set your nickname, add a pronunciation if needed, and after setting your birthday and gender, you get to personalize your Mii even more.
Your Mii’s voice can be edited on a radar chart of five values: Pitch, Speed, Depth, Accent, and Energy. Play around with it a bit, or just use a preset if you like (you can change it later if you wish) and you’ll move onto your Mii’s personality. Using another radar scale, you can change your Mii’s manners, movement, individuality, attitude, and expression.
When you’re all done, you’ll be greeted with a little bio of your Mii’s personality, so you can go back and edit its properties if it doesn’t seem right.
Make Some Friends
Now that you’re all done with the setup, it’s time to get into Miitomo proper. Once you meet your Mii, they will explain that Miitomo is a social app all about chatting with your friends. To get a conversation started, you’ll be asked a sample question — answer it however you wish!
If you're still curious about Miitomo, the hook is that it gives you *prompts.* It's another social network, but they start the exchanges.
— Eric Bailey (@Nintendo_Legend) April 2, 2016
You’ll probably want to add some friends right away so you can start sharing — the app isn’t too fun all by yourself! Tap the Friends button on the bottom toolbar to find some friends. You’ll need to link your Facebook and Twitter accounts here, then the app will find your Facebook friends and mutual Twitter followers that also use Miitomo. Since nicknames in the app are short and likely to be first name only, when you tap someone you know from social media you’ll see their profile picture and username so you can be sure you have the right person.
You can also add friends through a “Face-to-Face” method, which has you tap one of four symbols at the same time as your friend to add someone in the same room with you. Aside from these methods, however, the only way you can add friends is by tapping on people who comment on your friends’ posts or by viewing their friends.
… does anyone know how to *look for a specific friend's username* in Miitomo? :/ https://t.co/UNX9b8duay
— Eric Bailey (@Nintendo_Legend) April 1, 2016
This is a drawback of the app for two reasons: if you know a lot people on social media using the app, there’s no easy way to sort through them to see everyone, and if you don’t know many people on social media, it’s hard to start building up friends. If you need friends, try visiting a thread online like Reddit’s Miitomo friends finder — you can find some people who will follow you back on Twitter and become Miitomo friends with you.
Honestly, this feels a little empty. I added a few random people online as friends since I only a handful of people I knew are using the app, and while it’s nice to have people to interact with, I don’t know them at all and so their answers don’t really mean much to me.
Though it beats being lonely, I hope that Nintendo makes it easier to search for people by username or some other method soon. I have a few people I know from Twitter who I wanted to friend, but couldn’t find them due to a crowded “Suggested Friends” list from all the random people I added.
Ask Questions, Get Answers
Once you have some friends, the core of Miitomo is getting conversations going. Tap on your Mii at any time and it will ask you new questions or tell you what it heard from your friends. If you tap the thought bubble above your character’s head, you can see what your friends’ responses to questions were. Every time you see a question answered like this, you can add a heart to show you liked their answer, or leave a comment to keep the conversation alive. This is a great way to meet new friends, too!
You can keep track of new comments on your or friends’ posts in the Recent tab on the left side of the bottom toolbar — this lets you see how many friends have commented on or hearted your answer, plus how your friends answered the same question. if you’re curious, you can also click View online answers to jump on Twitter and see how others answered a question.
Every answer you give is collected under the My answers tab of the toolbar; you can skip any question that you’re asked, and they can be later answered here if you wish. Every answer you give a heart is also kept in this tab.
Aside from this, you can visit friends at any time by tapping their entry in your Friends tab — from here, you can talk to them, view what clothes they have on, or see their personality type. You can also rub a Mii’s head by rubbing back and forth on your screen. It’s… strange.
Customizing Your Mii
The two remaining tabs are Shop and Menu, and they’re where you’ll do a lot of customizing to make your Mii special. The shop lets you purchase new shirts, pants, hats, and other items with Miitomo coins. As this is a freemium app, coins can be obtained for real money via in-app purchases.
Nintendo is pretty fair about this, though; Miitomo coins are given out generously without having to pay. Each day, you’re given some coins for answering questions, listening to friends’ answers, adding new friends, and just signing into the app. You can certainly enjoy Miitomo and buy new clothes without feeling like the app is trying suck your money away.
In addition to the shop, there are also a few Plinko-like games where you drop a Mii character and get a reward that it lands on — usually a special piece of clothing. These games can be played using game tickets (which you earn from adding friends and logging into the app daily) or some coins. Again, this isn’t mandatory and can be ignored if you want to stick to the regular clothing.
Inside the Menu, you can choose Edit Mii if you want to change the face of your mii, Profile to change the personality and speech info you specified at the start, and Closet to change clothes that you bought in the shop. You can also add four Greetings that your Mii uses when someone visits or when you say goodbye to a friend.
Goofing Around With Miifotos
Whenever you change an outfit or are just feeling generally fashionable, you can take a Miifoto and share it with your friends or the world on Twitter. You can add text and stamps in addition to changing your Mii’s clothing or expression, and even use a picture taken from your phone as a background.
— Raziel Fireeye (@Raziel_DSM) April 3, 2016
Some people will definitely have a blast bringing their characters into the real world, but you can also use default backgrounds if you want to stick to the basics.
Settings and Miscellany
Miitomo doesn’t bog you down with settings, but lets you turn off the music, sound effects, or voices if you find them irritating. You can also make your friend list private so that friends can’t view it, turn on a power-saving mode that limits app performance but saves battery, and edit push notification options. If you’d like to make a QR code so you can share your Mii with others, that’s possible too.
— a large marshmallow (@juniusK9) April 2, 2016
Be sure to check the Gift Box inside the Menu every day, because the app throws rewards left and right at you in the beginning. You’ll receive a bonus for signing in each day of the month, along with rewards for using Miitomo at launch, so it’s worth making sure you collect everything from the Gift Box regularly.
The other big part of Miitomo is its My Nintendo integration. My Nintendo is the new rewards program, and allows you to earn coins from performing different actions, including several inside Miitomo such as listening to 10 friends’ answers in a day and getting three hearts on a post each day. You can view these missions right from inside the app in the Menu and most reset every day, so keep an eye on them! If you didn’t link Miitomo with a Nintendo Account, you’ll need to do so before My Nintendo works.
Overall, Miitomo is a good app that doesn’t feel out of place as a Nintendo property — and this is coming from someone who hates free-to-play games like Candy Crush. The app arguably has that distinct Nintendo feel — Mii characters have goofy experssions, some of the questions you get asked are plain weird, the costumes are funny, and the atmosphere is cheery. This certainly isn’t a full-fledged Nintendo game on mobile, but it’s probably better that way.
— Kate Gray (@hownottodraw) April 3, 2016
There’s an appeal here to gamers and non-gamers alike. Nintendo fans should enjoy having a Nintendo experience in their pocket, and being able to earn rewards that you can spend on other games is a nice touch. If you’re not a gamer, the social aspects of Miitomo are still fun, and it’s a great network for people who tend to lurk on other social media forms without posting.
Because the app asks you questions instead of waiting for you to post on someone’s wall or tweet, you can share around your answers and see what friends had to say without too much hassle. Miitomo definitely isn’t something you can sit down and play for hours at a time, but it warrants checking a couple of times per day or even once a day — the app will still be fun this way.
Miitomo isn’t groundbreaking, but it is charming. It’s not perfect — adding friends is difficult if you don’t use social media or have tons of friends using the app (probably the biggest issue with the app), and it’s not much fun at all without friends — but it treads the free-to-play line carefully and doesn’t feel like an app designed to rip you off.
Miitomo works because, at its core, it's another way for humans to interact with each other. Simple as that. We love shared experiences.
— Eric Bailey (@Nintendo_Legend) April 2, 2016
As a Nintendo fan, I’m excited about Miitomo and I’ll be keeping it on my phone for a good while. You owe it to yourself to check it out — add some friends, answer a few questions, customize your clothes, and take a few Miifotos. It’s worth checking out just to see this piece of history that is Nintendo’s first phone app. Who knows: The next app could be a game featuring a Nintendo IP. We’ll have to find out!
If Miitomo leaves you wishing you could play some classic Nintendo games on your phone, check out the best retro games you can emulate on Android.
Have you tried Miitomo, and what do you think? I want to hear your thoughts on the apps, including criticisms and suggestions, in the comments below!