I promise that you’ll never find another like Mii
One of the lessons I hope to remember from this pandemic is to make the time to interact with others. I fancy myself a loner and have become accustomed to doing most everything without a friend or partner at my side. I go to the movies alone, go hiking alone (which is admittedly dangerous), ride my bike alone, and, for the most part, game alone. Oh, I’ll play online with others, but outside of certain review necessities, I don’t do couch co-op that much anymore.
But the ghost of gaming past has been making frequent visits to my dreams as of late, reminding me of how social a person I used to be. Back in the days of the Wii, I couldn’t wait to have friends and family over for a night of gaming. It started with Wii Sports, but over the years, we’d come together to enjoy Wii Play, Super Mario Sluggers, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, Fortune Street, and so many other titles that had us waggling our Wii remotes. While all of these games were different, they had one thing in common: Miis.
I amassed quite the collection of Miis featuring the faces of my friends and families on my Wii, as well as the many special characters I created over the years using guides online. Darth Vader, Zoidberg, Reggie Fils-Amié, Daria Morgendorffer, you name it, I created it. Nothing brought a smile to my face faster than beating the crap out of Conan O’Brien in a few rounds of boxing. After so many years of playing casual games with poor character models or unsightly create-a-characters, it was great to have this system of simple but appealing created characters that could be used across a variety of games.
And what an amazing set of games we got with Miis. Wii Sports is an all-time great, but Wii Sports Resort, We Ski & Snowboard, Wii Play Motion, and yes, even Wii Music made good use of Nintendo’s avatar system. The breadth of creativity found in these Mii-centric titles was enormous. On the Wii, and Wii U with NintendoLand, the Mii games encouraged Nintendo and other developers to showcase everything possible with each console’s unique control scheme.
In the years that followed, Miis would find their way into more conventional gaming experiences. They became the first create-a-character options for the Super Smash Bros. franchise on Wii U and 3DS. In Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers, they transformed into your furry allies. Pilotwings Resort put them in control of a small selection of flying aircrafts. In New Super Mario Bros. U, you could conquer each level as your favorite Mii.
As they found their way into more Nintendo titles, Miis also became yet another way Nintendo fans could express themselves. Tomodachi Life, arguably the most eccentric game Nintendo has released outside of Japan, allowed you to make your own island of Miis where you could live with anyone you wanted. If you wanted to dress your Mii as a stack of pancakes and have them live in a space station apartment, you could. You could also help them become best friends with Nicholas Cage if you really wanted. Miitopia followed a few years later, letting players go on a mighty RPG quest with their favorite Miis. In between those games, Nintendo branched out to mobile with the short-lived — and much-missed — Miitomo.
It’s strange to see how quickly Nintendo its dropped focus from the Miis, but it basically did it in one fell swoop when it launched the Switch. Sure, there are still Miis in some games (mostly holdovers from the Wii U), you can make your Mii for your account avatar, and an updated version of the Mii software was used in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but gone are the titles built around the use of Miis.
There is nothing like Wii Play Motion or Wii Sports Resort for Switch. The best Nintendo has mustered so far on the console is 1-2-Switch, a game I doubt will be looked back on with as much reverence as any of the Wii series of titles. Games similar to Tomodachi Life or any of the StreetPass Mii Plaza titles don’t seem to be in the works at all. As a core gamer, I do appreciate Nintendo’s focus this generation. I just wish it didn’t have to come at the expense of all those experiences I enjoyed on its past consoles. Even if the best we got was a quick and dirty port of Wii Sports Club, I’d buy it in a heartbeat just to play more bowling.
Seeing a Mii of me is a surefire way to put a smile on my face. I adore my Switch and all the exciting adventures I’ve had with it, but I do miss the jovial feeling I’d get logging into a game as a cartoon version of myself to go wakeboarding or fly in a jetpack around Wuhu Island. I’d really like to see Nintendo revisit those concepts on the Switch or whatever it has planned next, but if that doesn’t happen, at least I still have all those memories of my Mii and Dame Judi Dench going at it in a freestyle rap battle.