It’s not very often that Nintendo kills one of their franchises. F-Zero is comatose, but every now and then it comes out long enough to say “I’m still alive!” before it falls back into obscurity (I don’t care, the Nintendoland game was fun). Metroid is getting a revival, and every other major Nintendo IP is referenced or has some sort of game available on the market. It seems, however, that Nintendo has had enough of their Mii avatars, judging by the treatment they’ve been giving them lately.
Miiverse was a pivotal part of Infendo becoming what it is today, as that’s how I met Lukas and how we grew attached to the Nintendo community even more (and, in an unreleased article, I describe my love/hate relationship with Miiverse and how I was banned more often than I was alive and how that caused a huge headache for me trying to play with friends and trying to play games on my 3DS with a banned account that I can’t change because Nintendo refuses to allow us to have more than one account or change accounts without formatting the entire handheld ANYWAY) and really gave the Wii U life beyond its years.
When that was shut down, it wasn’t unexpected – the service was free, had become more of a cesspool than a family-friendly Facebook, and wasn’t being used enough or at the forefront enough to make any sort of return on the Nintendo Switch. I still miss getting to see some of the incredible art people drew on the service (because drawing perfect pixels on a GamePad or a 3DS screen garners my respect), but I’m affected more by the hole it left in a lot of games, and the beginning of the end for the Mii franchise.
People loved Tomodachi Life so much that Nintendo took the best of that game and sprinkled it over two other “games” that followed: the Find Mii-esque “adventure” RPG Miitopia, and the Smartphone interactive questionnaire Miitomo.
I played Miitopia halfway through the story and actually enjoyed it but couldn’t justify the price – the only reason I stopped playing was because I played it on vacation and came home to better games, and never got around to playing it again (also, losing my original party [sorry for the spoiler] a third of the way through after I had a bond of like, 15 with the Mii character based off my girlfriend really made me not want to play anymore), but this is also a game that you no longer hear about. It was a full-priced experience that you get from the Mii Plaza app on the 3DS, and there really isn’t much more to say about it and thus the game fell by the wayside.
Miitomo on the other hand, took off like a California wildfire; people rushed to the first ever official Nintendo-produced smartphone app, answering questions, making goofy Mii personalities, impersonating famous people, being a young child and posting your phone number in a public forum (it happened, several times.), everything you can imagine a silly social network would give you. Wasting away your coins on outfits shaped like cats and dogs and unicorns and knock-off Power Rangers just so you can make the best Miifoto possible to share with your friends – we actually use Miifoto to create the title cards for all of the Infendo Let’s Play videos we publish to YouTube. Honestly, in spite of all the fun I had with the game (many memes were spawned), I was continuously surprised when they constantly had new events and Miitomo Drops (I spent way too much time trying to get the water floor tile…) and while approaching the two-year anniversary, the game still has a fair amount of users logging in every day.
Unfortunately, with the recent announcement that Miitomo is being put to rest for good, with nothing left but the shell of the icon of the app serving as a headstone for an empty grave, it has become more and more apparent that Nintendo has decided that the Mii livelihood, a staple of Nintendo from the Wii era, is being shuffled out.
Should we care?
Possibly. Nintendo used the Mii as our personal avatars for everything from the Wii to the Nintendo Network, from the 3DS to the Switch. It’s not likely to happen where they make it so you can’t use your Mii avatar to show off your personality anymore (making people finding your balloons in Super Mario Odyssey feel empty with just the preset icons), but they have made it so even making a Mii or carrying one over after it was tied to an amiibo a feature hidden deep into the system settings – who would look there, in the bland menus of text and controller vibration settings, to make a cartoon caricature of yourself? They won’t cut that feature, but it’s already not a feature they care if you know about.If the Miis no longer serve purpose or have any presence in future releases or features that Nintendo creates, then there’s no unique feeling, no matter of separating you from the thousands of other Ridley avatar icons or the millions of Zelda icons.
Okay, you don’t care about what your online presence looks like. Do you care about actual playable characters? How does it feel knowing that the first time you could make a customize-able Hulk Hogan and send him to fight in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS was also the last time? How would you enjoy no longer going into an online lobby in Mario Kart 8 DX and seeing Miis with absurd eyebrow placement that make them look like antenna, only the second-most interesting part of that person besides their name being a misspelled or creatively spelled profanity? What would that online lobby even look like, just a bunch of faces of the Mario franchise racers every player picked from? B o r i n g.
Fine, you’re not big on Mii players being in games. Think about the next time Nintendo creates a Wii Sports style game with cartoon-y fun looks and silly over-the-top effects; are you as likely to play that game with your family if, as opposed to the recognizable Mii characters even grandma could know, you had to have real people drawn and designed like they do in NBA Playgrounds?Maybe this all sounds irrelevant to you. “Mike, they’re slowly distancing themselves from the bad decisions they made over 10 years ago and this is just a byproduct” I hear you saying. “This isn’t even a big deal, the focus should be on the games not how you look when you’re playing them.” Sure, I get that…but if I’m right, and by next year Miis are a thing of the past, it’s going to feel a lot more empty in the world of Nintendo. Wait and [hopefully] don’t see.
We all have Miitomo to thank for silly pictures made with poses and costumes galore. We can look back and smile at Tomodachi Life for letting readers and listeners like you and me get the chance to marry someone like Pamela Anderson (or even Miyamoto, I hear he’s a nice guy). We owe thousands of laughs, tips and tricks, countless friendships and the current state of Infendo itself to the livelihood of Miiverse. The next time you make Darth Vader go toe-to-toe with Jigglypuff, just remember all the good times you had making him in the Mii Channel on the Wii. Tell me then that losing a franchise like this wouldn’t be a big deal.
How would you feel if Nintendo put Miis in the garbage? Were you a Mii creating fiend back in their prime? Or are you just someone that kept the default characters for everything? Let Mii know (okay I’ll stop) in all of our Infendo channels!