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Though Nintendo has had issues with lackluster performance on the Wii U (even though it does some things better than the PS4 or Xbox One), the past few years or so have seen a lot of good for the beloved company. 2014 saw the release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Mario Kart 8, two huge exclusive titles that brought many new people to the system. In 2015, we got the more powerful New 3DS and Super Mario Maker, another Wii U must-have that lets you create any Mario level you can imagine.
The Big N isn’t stopping, however. On March 31, 2016, Nintendo released four new features, all of which mesh together and set up an interesting future for them. Let’s take a look at the four big items Nintendo debuted last week.
Nintendo released their first smartphone app on March 31. Titled Miitomo, it’s a social platform designed to let users interact with their friends by answering questions, customizing outfits, and taking pictures.
The app has only been out in the USA for two days at the time of writing, and already three million people have downloaded it worldwide. Back in October, Justin predicted that the West wouldn’t be interested in a Mii game, but it looks like that isn’t true. Miitomo seems to be a hit by early accounts.
So far, the app seems to be a great thing for Nintendo. We expressed worries about Nintendo going mobile last year, nervous that it might dilute the value of their iconic characters. Since this app doesn’t include any Nintendo properties besides Miis, it’s hard to judge at this point.
Though Miitomo does include in-app purchases, they’re for cosmetics only and the app can be enjoyed without them. The app is definitely more of a mini social network than a proper game, so you’ll have to turn to emulation on Android if you want to experience classic Nintendo games. Just be sure to miss the Mario copycat games on Android, since they’re pretty lousy.
We covered Miitomo in-depth in a separate post, so check that out if you want to get the full scoop on the app.
New Web Storefronts
While Nintendo was ahead of their time with many products, Internet connectivity on current systems isn’t as great as the competition. In an effort to improve this, Nintendo revamped the eShop on the Web so you can purchase games on your phone or PC and have them downloaded right to your system. Previously, you could only download games directly on the 3DS or Wii U, so this is a convenient upgrade.
Visit the Nintendo Games Store to have a look around. You can choose to view only 3DS or Wii U games, or browse by sale, games with DLC, or new releases just like on the console eShop. Not every game can be purchased online, but most can. It’s nice to be able to order a game right from your phone and have it ready to play when you get home!
Need some suggestions to try out this new functionality? Check out our list of underrated 3DS eShop gems.
New Nintendo Accounts
For a while, Nintendo has had a confusing account structure. The aggravating friend codes of the Wii and DS were somewhat remedied with Nintendo Network IDs on the 3DS and Wii U, but it’s still not perfect (if you buy a Virtual Console game on 3DS, you must buy it again on Wii U). With the new and improved Nintendo Accounts, we’ll hopefully see a more streamlined experience going forward.
Head to the Nintendo Accounts homepage to set yours up. You can choose to create an account using your existing Nintendo Network ID, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ — or just the old-fashioned way if you don’t have or want to use these services.
Once you’re in, you can link all the above services to your account (it’s a good idea to make sure you at least link your Nintendo Network ID), but there’s not much to do on the account page after that. For now, Nintendo accounts are used to give you one presence between Nintendo’s existing systems, smartphone apps, Web, and hopefully the rumored upcoming Nintendo NX, which can learn a lot from the Wii U’s failures.
My Nintendo Rewards Program
For a while, Club Nintendo was the place for Nintendo rewards. Whenever you bought eligible games, you could take a code from an insert inside the box and enter it online for points. These points could be redeemed for all sorts of neat rewards, like Game & Watch recreations, messenger bags, cases to carry DS games, and posters. The service was discontinued last year, but My Nintendo is here to replace it.
Using your brand-new Nintendo account, you can log into My Nintendo and start earning coins in two types: platinum and gold. Gold coins are earned for buying digital games on the eShop, while platinum are earned from performing various missions, including several inside Miitomo.
Unlike Club Nintendo, there are no physical rewards (yet) and you don’t earn coins for buying retail games, which is a huge shame. It makes sense that Nintendo wants you to buy digitally, but those games take up lots of space on the Wii U’s meager storage and physical games are often cheaper.
To get coins, you’ll want to check out the Missions page. This is where you’ll find out what you have to do to earn coins — some actions include linking your Nintendo account to Facebook and Twitter, and signing into the eShop and Miiverse once a week.
Inside Miitomo, you’ll also earn coins for leaving comments on your friends’ posts, answering questions, and earning hearts on your questions. Be sure to check this page regularly as new missions appear; note that you sometimes need to manually click Collect Coints once you complete a mission to get your reward.
My Nintendo makes me so happy. It's pretty much everything I wanted Club Nintendo to be and more! And the rewards are pretty sweet, too.
— Balrog (@BalrogGameRoom) April 2, 2016
Once you’ve amassed some coins, you can peruse the Rewards section. Right now, these include a few games (Zelda Picross and WarioWare: Touched!, which is awesome and inspired many Android copycats), discounts on games, Miitomo items, and 3DS themes. Some rewards require gold coins (Super Mario 64, New Super Luigi U) while others use platinum coins (15% off Animal Crossing: New Leaf, or Miitomo tickets).
Overall, this is a decent program and earning anything extra for your purchases is appreciated. Gold coins are kind of frustrating because you need a lot of them to get anything exciting, and buying digital games at full price obviously isn’t cost-effective. However, for games you were thinking about buying anyway, getting a discount for the few minutes you spent with Miitomo here and there is a nice bonus.
Are You on Board?
For Nintendo fans, all four of these items are exciting, but even if you don’t have a Wii U or use many Nintendo services, you can still check out Miitomo and earn some rewards with My Nintendo.
While it’s crazy to think that Nintendo has finally released a smartphone app, the app seems to be popular among gamers and non-gamers alike. The rest are positives too: My Nintendo seems to be a fair replacement to Club Nintendo, and these new accounts should solve the issues of fragmentation that plagued past systems.
As the year progresses and the supposed reveal of the new NX draws closer, these new features will be even more important. Perhaps we’ll see a second phone app from Nintendo before 2016 is over. Only time will tell!
Thinking about getting a 3DS? Check out the games that make awesome use of the 3D feature.
Which of these items do you think is most exciting? Let us know if you’ve made a new Nintendo account or checked out Miitomo in the comments!