Nintendo fans have been clamoring for years to see their favorite game developer release something on modern smartphones, and on Thursday they finally got their wish – albeit only technically – in the form of Miitomo. The company’s first-ever official smartphone app launched on the same day as the brand new ‘My Nintendo’ rewards site, but while the app looks like one of Nintendo’s life-sim curiosities, it plays more like a social network.
Miitomo compares stylistically a lot to its peculiar 3DS-exclusive game Tomodachi life, in that it revolves around Nintendo’s “Mii” characters and their everyday, everyday interactions with each other. Unlike Nintendo produced titles like Crossing animals and Tomodachi lifeplayers get virtually no game-like systems to interact with, and they don’t create any of their in-game peers or neighbours.
Instead, Miitomo is almost entirely about adding Miitomo-using friends to your network and buying clothes. After a Mii is loaded into the game, either by importing it from a Nintendo Account or drawing it into the app, players will be prompted to add friends by adding a Facebook or Twitter account. is in the form of answering random life questions from your own Mii character. Those answers are then sent to confirmed friends’ Miitomo accounts, which they can then “like” to earn coin bonuses for both parties.
Coins in Miitomo can be used to buy outfits to dress up your Mii. That is it. Of course, you can pay real money for Miitomo’s in-game coins, with purchase options up to $74.99
While “core” gamers can pooh-pooh such simplistic dollhouse interaction, I found that an even bigger disappointment stemmed from a lack of more personalized, Crossing animals-styled house and environment customization. If Nintendo is going to build a dollhouse game that revolves around interacting with friends, why not provide players with options such as furniture, decorating styles, and other home furnishings?
Should players be impressed by such a shared question system among friends, they’ll find an otherwise clean interface, topped off by Nintendo’s odd voice synthesizer system (which debuted in Tomodachi life in 2014), but we imagine gamers from all walks of life will come away hoping Nintendo starts working on more of its promised smartphone games as soon as possible.
No more clubs
The only silver lining for Nintendo’s mobile phone plans is that the new My Nintendo program appears to be built to support a wide variety of future smartphone apps. But even this fan-service program launched with its own set of issues, especially when compared to Nintendo’s past offerings.
Club Nintendo lasted nearly six years before Nintendo dropped its product registration program last July, but the company promised a replacement would come at a “later date.” That date turned out to be March 31, after which the My Nintendo site finally launched for gamers in the US and UK, complete with a strange two-currency system and a much weaker selection of prices compared to its predecessor.
Nintendo fans may recall finding registration codes in Wii, 3DS, and Wii U games that they could type into the old Club Nintendo site to collect digital “coins.” Players could then exchange those coins for physical prizes ranging from T-shirts to toys to stickers to tote bags, along with downloadable copies of Nintendo games. Registering more games in a given calendar year also allowed fans to achieve “Gold” or “Platinum” status to earn even cooler exclusive trinkets (including a cool Mario hat replica and an impressive plastic pre-Amiibo diorama). characters from the Mario series).
On the new My Nintendo site, the basic concept remains intact: use Nintendo products and services to get rewards. However, Nintendo has ditched the old product registration focus in favor of a new “mission” system, which is probably the most MMO-esque scheme Nintendo has ever launched. My Nintendo’s missions include goals that refresh daily and weekly and depend on other friends being part of the service and interacting with each other. Many of these attach to Miitomo.
With linked Miitomo and My Nintendo accounts, players can complete in-app goals (example: “get five hearts on your answers in one day”) to earn platinum My Nintendo coins. These are not the same as gold My Nintendo Coins; the latter can only be earned by buying Nintendo games, and only digital download purchases count, meaning you miss out on the rewards if you buy cartridge or disc versions of your favorite Nintendo games. The only good news is that purchases from each digital download games count towards these gold coins, contrary to Club Nintendo’s limitation to primarily first-party games.
Different coins are required to claim different rewards within My Nintendo, but don’t expect T-shirts or other tangible goods this time. The site now only offers downloadable rewards. The best of these is a My Nintendo exclusive Picross puzzle game with one Zelda theme. Other rewards include “coupons” for Miitomo bonuses, free game downloads, and 15 or 30 percent discounts on eShop purchases of 3DS and Wii U games. The site currently does not include any “rank” designation à la Club Nintendo’s gold and platinum status levels, nor does it refer to future real-life products.
Any Nintendo fans who have no interest in Miitomo’s strange social networking system will probably have to wait for future smartphone offerings before they find a reason to get hooked on My Nintendo’s mission-compulsion loop.