Miitomo sits somewhere between a social/messaging app and a smartphone game, but it really isn’t good at being either.
Miitomo is an app focused on helping people learn more about their friends by chatting with their Miis. When the player logs on for the first time, he or she can link a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Nintendo Network account. Then, the player can import a pre-made Mii (like the one he or she already uses for gaming on wii U or 3DS) and add some attributes for Miitomo.
The player can use some sliders to affect how the Mii talks: slow or fast, high pichted or low, high energy or low, and so on. The player can also adjust some sliders for the Mii’s emotions and movements with criteria like levels of speed and expression, individuality, attitude and manners. This allows the Mii to resemble the player a bit more than just by facial features.
Friends can be added via social media, QR codes and by proximity. Then, the Mii can start chatting with friends. By tapping the chat bubble atop a Mii’s head, the player can see the friend’s answer to a random question and thereby learn about him or her. He or she can give that answer a “heart” or comment on it with a reaction. Then, the player is generally asked that question as well, which is visible to any of his or her friends.
For example, a friend’s Mii might tell the player that he or she was just playing some basketball with friends. Then, the Mii will ask the player what he or she recently did. When the player types in the answer, it’ll be added to that player’s answer bank for his or her friends to see. To see the answer, the friends will have to either course through the randomized list of questions and answers Miitomo presents the player, or they can instantly unlock answers they really want to know about with in-game candy that can be won in the mini-game Miitomo Drop.
Miitomo Drop works kind of like Plinko from The Price Is Right, but with a twist. The levels have moving platforms, bumpers and other elements that change each time the player tries. The player can pay in-game coins to drop a friend’s Mii into the course in hopes of winning a prize like candy or an outfit piece.
Wearing outfits is another main element of Miitomo. The in-game store provides a wide array of clothing items for the player to buy and wear. These range from day-to-day street clothes to hot dog costumes and cat suits. Daily trending and limited-time outfits are also featured in the shop.
The final main aspect, and possibly the one with the most life to it, is the Miifoto feature. The player can dress up his or her Mii and pose it for an image with a custom background and caption. The player can choose from pre-made backgrounds or any image on his or her phone. The meme potential for this mode is endless, since the Miis can be thrown into any and every situation imaginable posed in dozens of ways.
Unfortunately, that’s about all the app offers. There are no advanced social features: no dedicated chat or instant messaging system. There are no chat rooms or group discussions. There’s no voice chat feature or anything outside of asking and answering questions at random under the cute guise of playing with Miis.
There are also no mini-games aside from Miitomo Drop (at least, as far as I can tell). There’s just not much to do with the app.
I respect the fact that Nintendo isn’t exactly pegging Miitomo as a game; I get that. But even as a messaging/social app, it fails because it’s so restrictive. It literally just revolves around asking people questions at random. I can Google “random questions to ask my friends” if I want to shoot them a text to get to know them better. I don’t need the Miis to help me with that. As interesting as it is to learn about what my friends like, there are other and better ways to do it than through Miitomo.
If the app offered better social and messaging features, I would legitimately enjoy using it over texting because other aspects of it would make messaging more fun. But because it’s so barebones, it just ends up being a waste of time.