As you could've guessed from the Miitopia theme of this site, Mii characters and their games are a big special interest of mine! I've been into them ever since I got a Wii with Wii Fit and Wii Sports as a present. I was an active user of Miiverse and Miitomo through their entire runs (the former of which I made many longtime friends on), I've had plaza populations into the thousands in StreetPass Mii Plaza (though sadly not anymore and probably never again), and I'm somewhat active in online communities surrounding them to this day, despite (or perhaps because of) their smaller presence in the Nintendo Switch generation. In addition to simply being nostalgic and cute, Miis have long been a way for me to express myself and connect with others! This page will be a place to organize my thoughts and knowledge on Miis and the games they appear in.
The development history of what became known as Miis is a bit complicated, spanning across multiple console generations over about 20 years.
The origins of Shigeru Miyamoto's "make someone you know" project were on the Famicom Disk System, a peripheral released in 1986 that was going to need some original software. Miyamoto proposed a prototype where you could recreate people's faces using pre-made parts. Like with Mii characters, you could reposition and adjust the sizes of the facial features, but the art style was somewhat more complex. You could also create simple animations with the faces you created. The prototype wasn't received very well by his colleagues, however. They didn't think it had potential for a full game, and it never saw a release.
In 1999, the Nintendo 64DD was released! It received the Mario Artist series, a successor to Mario Paint, and one of the entries was Mario Artist: Talent Studio. In this game, you create avatars for use in animations. Like Miis, you can customize their faces and body proportions, but also choose their outfits. You can even use imported photos for the faces! The animations you create with these avatars could be shared over Randnet, the online service for the 64DD. Since the 64DD had a small install base, the Mario Artist games didn't reach a wide audience, and were also never released outside of Japan.
Miyamoto's next attempt at an avatar creator was in Stage Debut, a Nintendo GameCube game which was to make extensive use of its and the Game Boy Advance's peripherals. You would take a picture of your face with the GBA's unreleased GameEye camera, and it would put it on an avatar! The game would then ask you a few questions to develop your persona and overall look, and from there...it's not too clear what the gameplay was like. The game was set in a town with locations such as a dance stage, a park, and a school. Perhaps in addition to how complicated and expensive it would've been to set up, the game was shelved for not having much of a point. Also, weirdly, this game featured characters from Mario, Animal Crossing, and Pikmin interacting with the avatars.
Unknown to Miyamoto, an avatar project was in development for Nintendo DS, produced by Yoshio Sakamoto. It was inspired by kokeshi dolls (traditional wooden dolls, which seem to have also inspired the armless and legless appearance Miis sometimes take), and Fukuwarai (a game played blindfolded similarly to Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but with parts of a face). In an interview series about Miitomo, Sakamoto explains that this avatar creator was a remnant of a cancelled fortune-telling game. The software impressed then-president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, who wanted to show it to Miyamoto, knowing how long he had wanted to create something like it. Miyamoto then brought the Nintendo SPD team who created the project to work with Nintendo EAD on the Wii, incorporating the avatars into the console through the Mii Channel. Here, the avatars didn't need to be defined by a single game, and could instead be used across many!
You saw it in Miitopia on my homepage, but here's my Mii in its base form, from the Switch's Mii Studio!
I also have a picture of my Mii as it was around the beginning of the Wii U generation, unchanged from the Wii, as far as I can tell.
I grew up, got a better understanding of what I look like, my hair darkened, and new features were added.
Miis have starred in many games! I'll go over the notable ones that I've played in this section.
This is the series through which Miis made their game debut, starting with Wii Sports. Generally speaking, it's a series that bridges the gap between gamers and those less familiar with video games, usually through intuitve motion controls. I'll do my best to cover the games by the debut of each sub-series.
The Wii Sports series is the first and most iconic of them all. The first game was packaged with the Wii console in most regions, and with that sold around 82.90 million copies. It was very popular at social gatherings, used for physical therapy, and its continued popularity in elderly homes has helped their residents stay physically and mentally active.
I actually don't have many memories playing the original Wii Sports, but I do know Tennis was my favorite sport. The game I played much more in the Wii generation was Wii Sports Resort!
This follow-up was designed around the new Wii MotionPlus accessory, allowing for more accurate motion reading. Instead of a few generic settings for each sport, the whole game is set on and around Wuhu Island, which was introduced in Wii Fit and is loved by many Nintendo fans, myself included! There's a wider variety of sports in this game, going from 5 to 12, with only 2 returning from the original, Bowling and Golf. My favorite activity in Wii Sports Resort was Air Sports' Island Flyover. I suppose it's not much of a sport, but it's so cool to be able to fly freely around the island, picking up iPoint bubbles to learn more about its various locations. As I read the Wii Sports Wiki's page for the game, it's clear to me that there's a lot I could still go back and find new appreciation for. Perhaps I should!
Wii Sports Club...this is kind of a weird one. It's an HD remake of the original Wii Sports for the Wii U. It used Wii MotionPlus, which by this point was now built into Wii Remotes as the Wii Remote Plus. It also introduced online play, and social features powered by Miiverse. Interestingly, the digital version is free to download, and from there you have the option to buy each sport indivudally, or rent all of them for 24 hours with a Day Pass. I guess the idea of the Day Pass isn't a terrible one. For $2, you could have full access to the game for 24 hours, so it'd be ideal for something like a party. Harder to justify, in my opinion, though, is the Club Passes. These are buying sports individually for $10 each, for a total of $50. Keep in mind that the original Wii Sports was bundled with most Wii consoles, and can still be played on the Wii U just fine. It's the same problem that something like The Last of Us Part I was recently criticized for. Why charge so much for a remake of a game that's already backwards compatible? I guess if you want the online that badly, it would be worth it, but hardly anyone is playing the game anymore. Unless you're really attached to the Wii U versions of your Miis, I'd say it's probably cheaper to find a used copy of the original Wii Sports. But, the game is still fun, I enjoyed Tennis and Bowling online the most, and it's fresher in my memory because it's newer. Moving on.
Nintendo Switch Sports........I technically did play this when they ran the Online Play Test, so I think I'm entitled to a ramble on it. It's the first game in the Wii series to drop the Wii name. Let's address the elephant in the room first. Miis were obviously not a priority in this game, with the marketing and in-game assets dominated by the Sportmates, who caused quite a stir. This was not long after the Switch version of Miitopia restored many players' faith in Miis taking starring roles in games again, and featured expansive new customization options that made the possibilites for creations that much greater. These made Miis much more popular again, and people had a lot of fun pushing the limits of the makeup and wig systems. You'd think this would set a new standard for Miis in first-party games revolved more around them, but so far, they seem to be taking some steps back with Nintendo Switch Sports. I don't think it's the end of Miis or anything, though, it's probably just bad timing with a development cycle that couldn't account for the Miitopia port's success. Still, although you can play as your Miis in the game, it's clear that it wasn't really designed with them in mind. Their more realistic bodies look a bit weird, and they don't have access to all the same accessorization options as Sportsmates. The general consensus is that with Miis pushed to the side, not even appearing in the background of matches, much of the Wii Sports charm is sadly gone.
Now, how about the game as a whole? From what I played, it was still fun, but I wouldn't call it revolutionary. But to be fair, the Online Play Test only had the game's 3 returning sports for launch: Tennis, Bowling, and Chambara (previously known as Swordplay). Chambara was a bit awkward to control compared to its Wii Sports Resort counterpart, from what I remember, but I still really enjoyed Tennis and Bowling, especially the new Survival Bowling mode. Did I enjoy it enough to want to buy the game, though? Seeing as I haven't yet, I guess not. The new sports mostly aren't that distinct, with Volleyball and Badminton being relatively similar to Tennis. On top of that, the one sport coming in an update, Golf, has been in every other game in the series. Unless you really miss Wii Sports and have no other way to play it (and may enjoy grinding online for clothes), I'd say you should probably skip this one.
Wii Play was developed alongside Wii Sports, and both games are essentially compilations of tech demos for the Wii Remote that were present at E3 2006. The sports simulations made up Wii Sports...and the rest made up Wii Play. Nine minigames are featured, together presented as a way to teach you how to use the Wii Remote. The majority of the minigames are designed around the Wii Remote's pointer, and the final minigame, Tanks!, even has Nunchuk support! Tanks! is by far the fan favorite of this collection, as it's the lengthiest and most fleshed-out. There's even this neat video about its dynamic soundtrack.
I had Wii Play, but I don't think it was particularly memorable. It's worth noting, though, that it came bundled with a Wii Remote for a total of only $10 more than a Wii Remote by itself, so it was essentially a $10 game. For most people, it seems Tanks! alone was worth that price. If I still have it, I guess I should give it a shot again.
Wii Play: Motion was the last Wii series game for the original Wii, and I think it was a lot better than the first Wii Play. As the name suggests, it was meant to showcase Wii MotionPlus, and came bundled with a Wii Remote Plus. This time, it's a compilation of minigames by multiple developers, an approach that would later be taken for the DLC games in StreetPass Mii Plaza. It came out noticeably late into the Wii's life cycle, about a week after the Wii U was announced, and well after the capabilities of the Wii Remote and Wii MotionPlus were established. It's no wonder comparatively less people played this one. But, being a freak for the Wii series and most things Mii, I was one of those that did pick it up. In the game's Iwata Asks interview, general producer Shinya Takahashi says it was greenlit because people in sales wanted a Wii Play that did for the Wii Remote Plus what the original game did for the original Wii Remote (sell units). Iwata noted that it's a rarity for Nintendo to develop a game based on the opinions of people in sales, and I think it's felt with this one. I'm not sure if it was really necessary.
From what I recall, though, there was a higher quality of minigames here than in the first Wii Play. My favorites were Cone Zone, where you stack giant scoops of ice cream high into the sky, and the brilliant Spooky Search, in which you hunt for ghosts around the room using beeps from the Wii Remote's speaker and help from some Miis, and drag them into the capturing machine on the TV screen. Still, it's been a while since I played this one, and I know I still have it, so I can update this page with more thoughts later.
The Wii Fit series...I think this is my favorite sub-series of them all. A series of fitness games mainly controlled with the Wii Balance Board, the core idea was to get families involved in exercising together. It was the main reason my dad got a Wii, so I weirdly owe a lot to it for maintaining my interest in video games. I even main Wii Fit Trainer in Super Smash Bros.! Maybe it's mostly just nostalgia, but I think the games have a very soothing aesthetic, one which is generally good at getting me in an exercising mindset.The main activity the games encourage you to do daily is the Body Test, which measures your center of balance, weight, and body mass index with one scan, and you also have the option to calculate your Wii Fit Age with a couple of basic exercises. The use of BMI is problematic and unreliable, however, most notably in measuring people of color. If you're going back to the Wii Fit series now, I wouldn't put much stock into the usage of this system, if any. It is frustrating, though, how the games strongly insist on watching your BMI and setting goals around it, so keep that in mind. Apparently, BMI is not a factor at all in Ring Fit Adventure, so it does seem Nintendo has learned since 2013.
The real meat of the Wii Fit series is its Training activities, which can generally be put into two categories: those with the Wii Fit Trainers (Yoga and Strength Training), and those with Miis (Aerobics and Balance Games). Wii Fit U, however, has a sort of in-between of these: the Dance classes with Mii dancers. You can select them individually or play them in sequenced routines, which I believe can also be customized. The ones with Miis took almost all of my attention as a kid, but I've come to appreciate the Trainer-based ones as I've matured too...or maybe it's also that they're Smash fighters now. By the way, did you know the Trainers change their hairstyles every month? I think that's neat.
My memories with Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus kind of blend together, since they're so similar and were released so closely to each other. Some of my favorite Training activities from these two games were Hula Hoop, Basic Step and Advanced Step, Free Run (again, loved to explore Wuhu Island), Rhythm Kung Fu, Rhythm Parade (which I wish they didn't cut from Wii Fit U), and Obstacle Course. One memory stands out of me playing Wii Fit Plus late into the night, and I believe I unlocked the silver Fit Bank through that.
Wii Fit U...I was probably one of the few Nintendo fans looking very forward to this game. I even tuned into the Wii Fit U Direct! This game cuts some activities from Wii Fit Plus and adds some new ones, but the main innovation is the inclusion of the Fit Meter accessory. Using very similar hardware to the Pokéwalker, it is an activity meter that tracks data like steps taken, estimated calories burned over the past month, and changes in altitude. This data can be loaded into the game and added to your records, something much simpler than the previous option of manually inputting data about your out-of-game exercise. It's similar to the Nintendo DS game Personal Trainer: Walking, which included an Activity Meter of its own and was one of the few DS games to support Miis. It also had a mascot character based on the Activity Meter, like Wii Fit's of the Wii Balance Board! Like that game, there are also Fit Meter Challenges to put your walking data to use in, tracking distance walked and altitude climbed. With these, you can unlock outfits for your Mii to wear, just like you can in some of the Training activities! The Fit Meter also displays an LCD image of your Mii, which is quite awesome in my opinion.
Another new feature in Wii Fit U that's no longer available was the Gym Communities. Through Miiverse, players could open private communities to support each other and post about their progress in. I remember being frustrated that nobody wanted to join my community, and that the North American Gym Community ecosystem was dominated by one user in particular. Not really much to say about it, I suppose. Wii Fit U is a game I hope to continue using in the future, once I find cables for my Wii U again.
Oh, Wii Music...you poor thing. This is basically the only true entry in the Wii series to not get a sequel, and it wasn't all that well received commercially or by critics. It released in 2008, around the height of popularity for score and peripheral-based rhythm games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but the idea here was to create music your way using as little as a Wii Remote. At the end of each performance, you rate yourself! Like Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Wii Fit, Wii Music was part of Shigeru Miyamoto's initial "Wii Project," born from a minigame concept for Wii Play, and it was also the only time legendary Nintendo composer Kazumi Totaka was in the directorial role of a game. Miyamoto hoped the game could be a way for all kinds of people to enjoy the music world, a concept I can admire.
The main mode is the Jam Sessions, where you can play 50 songs with 66 instruments. The song selection is mostly from the public domain, though there are some licensed songs and music from other Nintendo games. The quality of the instruments is...questionable, but I suppose I personally like it in a campy way. I think the idea of playing music without restrictions could've been taken further with some kind of free play mode, one to let you truly play whatever you want, but I'm not too sure how it would work, though modders have figured out how to create a system for custom songs in the game.
Something I think is cute about the Jam Sessions is the variety of locations you can perform in. There are also stages like a park, an apartment complex, a truck driving by a beach, and even a trip through outer space! Most of these are populated with your other Miis, too.
There are also some rather throwaway minigames, but they are scored. First, there's Mii Maestro (the minigame repurposed from Wii Play), where you conduct an orchestra of Miis using the Wii Remote as a baton. This is the minigame I played the most, as it's kind of funny to change speeds and also stop conducting to have the Miis stare at the camera until you resume. The others are Handbell Harmony, a more traditional rhythm game where you ring your bells at the right time, and Pitch Perfect, a sort of quiz where you solve music-related puzzles. Mii Maestro and Handbell Harmony each only have 5 songs, though, so don't expect to spend much time with them.
Overall, I think Wii Music was a fun time for me, carried mostly by Jam Mode. I had a friend who often wanted to perform "gigs" with me in the game. I still have it, and although I think it gave me more of an appareciation for music as a kid...I'm not sure if I'd have much fun with it now. Moving on.
[To be added]
Skip ahead, skip ahead...ah!
The sequel to Tomodachi Collection, released in 2013 in Japan and 2014 elsewhere. In addition to being the first installment to leave Japan, the main new feature is married Miis raising children. Since this was my first exposure to the series, I'll talk more generally about it.
When talking about this game, it's hard to ignore the lack of romance between Miis of the same gender. As someone who has been sure of their gayness for a long time since the game released, this makes it pretty much impossible to go back to. Before the game was localized, it had a glitch that allowed two male Miis to get married and raise children, but this was patched out instead of embraced! As Tomodachi Life's western release was approaching, a campaign called Miiquality was started to push for the inclusion in an update, and it did get a response from Nintendo! They essentially said that the game was too fundamentally designed around heterosexual relationships to change now, but that any future installment in the series would be redesigned from the ground up to be more inclusive. I'm still waiting!
That aside though, the game is quite charming. It has a good sense of humor, and it was entertaining to watch the Miis go about their day across the island. I suppose a lot of the game is passively watching what happens, which is fine by me. What I think is really interesting about the game, however, is its use of StreetPass and SpotPass. When a couple's child grows up, they can either stay on the island or become travelers. Travelers are sent to other players' islands through StreetPass, where they can be interacted with at the Campground. Together, the owners of other islands can raise the level of travelers as they receive them. You can even do things like give them a message to send back to their home island! But yes, if all goes well, your travelers will send letters to update you on how they're doing, or even come back to visit you and their parents! I think this is probably the best use of StreetPass in any 3DS game, as it's so involved and elaborate.
I used to love this game, and I was very excited for it since before the localization was announced (I was so happy at school when I saw a Tomodachi Life Direct went up), but now my opinion on it has mellowed out. There don't seem to be THAT many events in it, and you'll see repeats very often. I'd love to see another entry on the Switch, seeing how far Miis have come with stuff like the Miitopia port, and Nintendo has gotten better at having things like LGBT references and gender-neutrality in their games, so I think it would make for a much better experience.
This isn't exactly a Tomodachi game, but it has a lot of similarities and was again produced by Yoshio Sakamoto. Released in 2016, Nintendo's first mobile app was a sort of social network expressed through Miis, where the main kind of "posts" were answering questions about yourself. The idea was that you could get to know your friends better through these answers, and have conversations you wouldn't normally have, which I think is neat! You could also dress up your Miis, and take Miifotos with them, Which was very fun.
When I said at the beginning of this page that Miis have long been a way for me to express myself, that was largely due to Miitomo!
Although I played it 'til the end because I love Miis a normal amount, the app didn't hold the attention of Nintendo fans or the general public for very long. To many people, the novelty wasn't worth the amount of stoage the app took, and despite Nintendo adding new features like the public Answer Central, direct messaging, and customizing your Mii's room, the app shut down in 2018.
Though it got lonelier later on, I had a lot of fun with Miitomo! I think it had the best outfit customization of any Mii game, one which I hope a new Tomodachi game would be like. The means of self-expression it gave me made up for not having many active friends to interact with. There is a way to keep playing it now, fanmade servers by the folks at Kaeru Team called Kaerutomo, but...it's just not the same.
An application pre-loaded onto the Nintendo 3DS which takes advantage of its StreetPass feature. StreetPass is a form of wireless communication that two systems can automatically do when near each other, exchanging data that can be used in supported games. In StreetPass Mii Plaza, players exchange their Miis to collect in each other's plazas, who can then be used to play various minigames! I remember it being described in a system software overview as "where Mii characters meet and greet," which I think sounds wonderful. You can exchange custom greetings along with information such as your birthday, what region you're from, hobbies, and whether you prefer dogs or cats.
I had a lot of fun with this in the 3DS generation, and it was regularly supported by Nintendo for about 5 years, receiving new minigames and other features. I'll cover the minigames in order of release.
Not much of a puzzle, but you exchange pieces with other players to form images on panels, which unlocks a 3D scene based on a certain game. There were a lot of panels released through the years based mainly on Wii, 3DS, and Wii U games, (though also some of random promotions like McDonald's) and later ones had pink pieces that could only be collected through StreetPass, not with Play Coins. This was fun back in the day, but it's just about impossible to complete now.
Developed by Good-Feel and the first of the paid games we'll be covering from here on out, this is a space shoot 'em up where your Mii leads the Mii Force, who fight to protect StreetPass Galaxy from the evil Gold Bone Gang.
A gardening simulator developed by GREZZO, in which your Mii moves to the plant-loving town of Florafield in hopes of earning the title of Master Gardener.
Developed by Spike-Chunsoft and set in the Era of Endless Strife, this is a light strategy game where you're the monarch of a small country, who aspires for world conquest. With the world being war-torn, this is presented as a supposedly good and noble thing.
Developed by Prope, this is a puzzle-RPG where you must escape a haunted mansion.
A pack-in title with the Wii U Deluxe Set, this was essentially meant to be the Wii Sports of the Wii U. A title meant to show off the capabilities of the Wii U GamePad, and its potential for asymetrical gameplay, partially again derived from tech demos. The setting is a whimsical, toy-like theme park with 12 attractions, each based on a first-party Nintendo creation. This arguably makes the game less palatable for non-gamers, but the Wii U was mostly just bought by hardcore Nintendo fans anyway, so I guess it worked out.
All together there are 3 Competitive Attractions, 3 Team Attractions, and 6 Solo Attractions. You do have the option to select them from a menu, but you're encouraged to get around by exploring the Nintendo Land Plaza. This is a space with gates to each attraction, decorations unlocked through a minigame on the central tower, and, back when Miiverse was around, the Miis of other players displaying their posts. This was a predecessor to the hubs seen in the Splatoon series.
During the Wii U generation, I didn't have many friends in person (but plenty on Miiverse!), and Nintendo was at perhaps their lowest coolness level in history, so I didn't play Nintendo Land in multiplayer that much. The Team Attractions were playable in single player, and my favorite was Pikmin Adventure. The GamePad player's Mii takes on the role of Captain Olimar with a squad of small Pikmin, and the Wii Remote players are large Pikmin that could move about on their own. It's a top-down action game where you work together to fight hostile creatures, collect nectar and power-ups, and reach the spaceship at the end of each stage. My favorite Solo Attraction was Octopus Dance, a rhythm game based on the Game & Watch game Octopus, but I think it's Balloon Trip Breeze now. It's essentially an expanded remake of the mode from Balloon Fight, but instead of pressing buttons to flap your arms, you're sliding on the GamePad's touch screen to control the wind! Your Mii will fly from island to island avoiding obstacles and enemies in the sky, and occasionally delivering packages that you must make sure don't fall into the sea. I just think it's such a cute little world presented in this one.
The favorite Competitive Attraction of my family and I was Luigi's Ghost Mansion. In this game, the Wii Remote players are ghost hunters, and the GamePad player is the ghost. I'll write more about it later.
Miis aren't limited to games all about them. Here, I'll talk about some other appearances that I have experience with.
After only really having profile icons and some related music in Brawl, Miis and their franchises got their big break in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U! Wii Fit surprisingly received its own fighter and most things that come with that through Wii Fit Trainer, and highly customizable Mii Fighters were one of Smash 4's big new features. Mii Fighters come in three types: Brawlers, Swordfighters, and Gunners, and their special moves and outfits can be customized. Aside from fighter-related content, Wii Sports Resort, StreetPass Mii Plaza's Find Mii II, and Tomodachi Life all got stages, remixed music, and trophies. Even Miiverse got a special stage where posts appeared in the background, which had Mii-related music such as an original Nintendo Land Medley!
Along with other things introduced this game such as Animal Crossing's Villager, all this Mii stuff was pretty much the first time I experienced the nostalgia for other games that Smash is supposed to give you, as Brawl was my introduction to the core video gaming universe. Wii Fit Trainer started being my main in this era of Smash, and she still is. However, I didn't play Mii Fighters that much because they weren't available to play online with strangers.
Here are some other sites that are useful for information about Miis and their games!