Nintendo has been quietly innovating in the background as the likes of PlayStation and Xbox come out brash and loud with their new flagship games.
Cracking little gems like the camera-focused Pokémon Snap, accessible cutesy role-play hit Paper Mario and the upcoming kids coding title Game Builder Garage all offer something different from the pack.
And the innovation continues with Miitopia, designed as a very first entry into the realm of often complicated RPG games.
The gimmick here is that it’s aimed at kids and allows them, and you as the parent, to customise the story so that every key character you meet can become either someone you know in real life or a character of your own creation.
Thanks to the Mii design suite, it’s very easy to mock up cartoony lookalikes of yourself, family and friends.
So the big baddie, the Dark Lord, in my game quickly became a version of me, while the hero of the piece was my five-year-old daughter, complete with her blond hair and a cheeky attitude.
And we had great fun filling out our cast by adding mum and brother as well as a host of her real-life cuddly toy names, like Mrs Growls and Baby Bobby.
The game itself is like an interactive storybook. Just like in more serious ‘adult’ RPGs there’s a lot of talking and ‘press button A’ as you wade through the dialogue.
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But thanks to Nintendo’s trademark tongue-in-cheek storytelling, it’s always funny and the laughs are heightened when you take into account the added ‘I know that person’ factor.
The story itself is incredibly simple to cater for the young audience, the Dark Lord is stealing people’s faces and putting them on his baddie creatures who you then, as the hero, have to fight to win back the visage.
In then comes the main gameplay of the title, turn-based RPG battles where you and your rival take it in turns to deal damage to each other.
The last one standing wins.
If you’ve played Paper Mario it’s basically an even simpler attack system than that and is ideally suited to children wanting to get their heads around this style of video game.
It’s too simplistic for older gamers, so warning – Miitopia is for the young and those with more experience won’t get a great deal out of this game.
To vary things up a bit there’s also exploration in the Animal Crossing-esque landscapes and treasure hunting.
Ands it’s not all about wielding a sword too, you can choose different jobs for your heroes like playing as a microphone-holding Pop Star or swinging a pan at enemies when you select the Chef option.
A key part of the game is to ensure you build relationships with your cast-mates through ‘Inn-Teractions’: Resting at the inn after defeating fearsome foes and nurturing the bonds between your Mii characters.
You can send your characters on outings to the café and cinema to improve their friendships which ultimately impact on their ability to win battles together when taking on bigger foes in a group.
Poor relationships mean you’ll soon be toast.
Your party is completed by a trusty horse companion. Spend time with it and it’ll reward you with its loyalty and lend a helping hoof in battle.
Overall, this is a charming, fun game ideal for young Switch players.
It’s not too taxing and the gameplay is easily conquerable, meaning older gamers should probably avoid.
And while it does get very samey after a while, the storytelling is always funny and the extra element of putting yourself in the game adds to the lols.
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