Nintendo’s first ever mobile app, Miitomo, shot to the top of the download charts when it was released at the end of last week.
It’s not entirely surprising, given the number of Nintendo super-fans who apparently walk among us, somehow covering their habit to move in nonsensical directions and disproportionately large heads.
On the other hand, it’s an amazing feat for an app that’s not quite a game, not quite a social network, and doesn’t really have anything to it.
When you first open Miitomo, you get to design yourself as a Mii, Nintendo’s iconic bobblehead. You also assign yourself a personality, ranking yourself on movement, individuality, manners, attitude, and expression; this seems to affect everything from your tone of voice to the colour and objects in your ‘house’.
Then you come to the main feature of the app: answering questions. Nintendo have prepared a weird, wonderful, and whoppingly huge set of quickfire questions for you to answer.
But where’s the fun in answering questions to yourself? Well, make friends. The easiest way to do this is to connect your Facebook and Twitter, although you can also add friends “face-to-face”, if you dare. Your answers will be shared with your friends, and if you visit their houses, you get to answer some personal questions too, which stay private between the two of you.
The more friends, visits and answers, the higher your ‘popularity level’, an arbitrary grading system which does nothing more than grant you the odd bonus.
Commenting on, ‘hearting’, and answering questions also nets you coins, which you can spend in the Miitomo Shop. The shop sells clothes and accessories for your Mii, who you can dress in the ‘Wardrobe’. Swap outfits each day and you’ll increase your ‘style level’.
Your coins can also be spent on playing a mini-game called Miitomo Drop, where dropping your friends down a hole can win you exclusive Mii clothes and accessories. (You can also win ‘Sweets’, which are, quite frankly, useless.)
Miifotos allow you to show off your Mii’s new clothes, put them in odd and quirky situations, or even place them in other, real-life photos you’ve taken on your phone.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot to get excited about. There’s no real aim, very little choice or variation, and no conversation. It shouldn’t be popular.
But the fact that nobody is taking it seriously is probably its biggest advantage. Once you’ve sunk an hour or so into perfecting your Mii and meeting your friends, you’ve probably found some answers that have intrigued you and/or raised a chuckle.
You comment on some of these answers, maybe complete a few yourself, and realise you’ve got enough coins to buy yourself a silly outfit. It looks ridiculous, so you take a Miifoto share it with your friends, whose outfits are similarly outrageous.
That’s it. You’re hooked forever.
It works better than Facebook as a social app, which nowadays is filled with news, pictures, and spam events. On Miitomo, you hear what you joined Facebook for: your friends.
And it works better than Dwarf Clash and Battle of the Tiny Men Armies as mobile games, too. There’s constantly stuff to do: questions to answer, friends to visit, clothes to buy, Miitomo Drops to work towards.
But none of it is pressured – you can do everything at your own pace. If you don’t open it for a day or two, you’ve not lost out on anything. It’s the perfect ‘casual’ game.
It’s also the perfect game to sink hours of your day into. Some people on the Miitomo subreddit have complained about getting through all the questions, which is impressive, because there are at least 400 by some estimates.
I downloaded the app less than a week ago, and I’ve already spent at least ten hours perfecting my beautiful outfits and snapping cute Miifotos, much to the despair of my girlfriend and my third year. Goodbye University of Lincoln, hello Miitomo…