Miitomo released in North America on March 31st, 2016 and it has been a really wild ride. I’ve never delved too deeply into the world of social media, but Miitomo creates something special with how it handles personal interactions with others and yourself.
Whenever I first saw the trailer for Miitomo I felt intense Tomodachi Life vibes. Tomodachi Life is a game that is very similar in concept: you create a Mii, a virtual caricature of yourself, and you have it make friends with other Miis to get new items and experiences. The main difference between Miitomo and Tomodachi Life, is that Miitomo is an incredibly personal and social experience.
I find myself calling Miitomo a game, even though that’s not entirely true. Whether it is because of the Nintendo flair that fills the application, or because of the coins that are gained to purchase items, I have to admit that it is much more than just a game. It is an endearing combination of play and communication.
Whenever you open Miitomo for the first time it asks you to create a My Nintendo Account. This is Nintendo’s newest rewards program that ultimately replaced the Club Nintendo royalty program. I created my account by signing in with my Nintendo Network account, which is used for online services on Nintendo consoles, like the Wii U and 3DS. This was the easiest way for me, but there are other options available, such as Facebook and Twitter, there is also the option to create the account from scratch.
Once you complete your account registration you can begin to get to know yourself a whole lot more. You create your Mii persona, which can be done automatically by taking a photograph, which usually produces more than humorous results, or by creating a Mii from scratch. After the physical process is complete, you go into detail on what makes you you. From your robotic voice, which you can make as enthusiastic or as monotone as you wish, to your personality, which determines how your Mii reacts in conversation.
From there you are finally introduced to yourself. You are given tasks to further customize your unique self. But what really solidifies Miitomo as a distinct experience is the interaction between you, your Mii, your friends, and their Miis.
Conversations are not held within real time, and that is definitely part of the magic. Your Mii will either go and meet your friend’s Mii or vice versa, and they will exchange answers and questions to get to know one another better. This fantastic form of virtual “telephone” allows for unique conversations and fun filled answers.
Folks feel compelled to say whatever comes to their mind of the internet, but most of the time, people do so without being asked. One of the great things about Miitomo is how Miis interact in conversation. Everything you write is spoken out loud by your Mii. Most of the time this is pretty spot on, and your Mii’s emotions react to keywords within sentences. This makes everything you say come to life, this will make some more cautious about what they write, others will throw caution to the wind and take advantage of the fact that the app has little to no censorship.
Miitomo wants to know a lot about you so your friends can learn more about what makes you you. It’s like meeting someone for the first time and playing a game of Twenty Questions. Except these aren’t people you’ve met for the first time, Miitomo uses friends you have on Facebook, or followers you have on Twitter to populate your friends list. (There is also a “Face to Face” function that allows you to add someone next to you. This can be useful for those who don’t dabble too much in social media but want to give Miitomo a try.) These are people who, for the most part, you’ve known for a while, but for some reason, with Miitomo, everything feels so fresh and sincere.
I’ve never felt more inclined to be kind on a social media than I do on Miitomo. Whenever someone gets new clothes or has a good experience it’s like an accomplishment for everyone. I try my best to leave a comment on my friend’s answers whenever I can. And while this can be done to get coins, which can be used to purchase clothing and the like, I do so because that’s the friendly thing to do.
Looking at the combination of words in Miitomo, you can really feel what the whole experience is about. Mii is an obvious reference to self, the “me” in the equation. Tomo comes from the Japanese word, Tomodachi, which means friend. Miitomo is more than just a social network. Miitomo is an experience based on self-discovery. But it’s more than that. Miitomo is about me, it’s about you, and it’s about everyone else too.
Miitomo has held a lot of my attention for the past few days, and I hope that I continue to revisit it daily. I feel the best way to experience Miitomo is by going in and trying it out or yourself. Nintendo could have simply put Super Mario Bros. on smartphones, but it didn’t. Nintendo created something more than what was expected, and I cannot wait to see what else it has in store.