It's a Mii, Not Mario: Nintendo's First Phone Game Looks Lame

Photo: Kotaku

Photo: Kotaku

Nintendo has taken the wraps off its first-ever mobile game, and, well… it's a Super Mushroom or two short of Super Mario Bros. The Japanese game maker's smartphone debut is Miitomo: a free-to-play social networking game slated to launch in March 2016.

As its name suggests, Miitomo will allow you to create your own Mii avatars, just as you can on the Wii U or 3DS. We're not sure how exactly the game will play, but screenshots suggest that you'll simply be hanging out in houses and interacting with other Miis, just as you can in the 3DS life simulator Tomodachi Life.

This might not be the Mario endless runner or engrossing Zelda RPG you were waiting for, and it's unclear when we'll know about the rest of Nintendo's upcoming mobile titles. According to The Wall Street Journal, Miitomo is one of five mobile apps slated to come out by March 2017, which is a rather large window for just a few games. Miitomo was meant to debut by the end of the year, but new Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima claimed that the title was delayed so that Nintendo could properly promote it.

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The big N had more to announce than just its generic new mobile game, though — it also revealed its Nintendo Account service, which will allow gamers to have a unified account for Nintendo games on any platform. Users will be able to sign in with their Facebook, Twitter, Google or Nintendo Network accounts, and share cloud saves between consoles and mobile devices. That could prove to be a step forward for Nintendo, whose consoles still lack a tight, unifying ecosystem.

Perhaps more interestingly, Kimishima also claimed that some still-unannounced titles are coming to both the Wii U and 3DS this holiday season. It's hard to imagine any of these being big blockbusters, given the short notice, but owners of Nintendo hardware might at least have a few new things to play in a month or two.

While Nintendo already stated that it wouldn't be porting any of its beloved console games to mobile, Miitomo still seems like a disappointing debut for what should be an exciting new endeavor for the games giant.

Nintendo's mobile experiences could be an effective gateway into the excellent games available on the company's home consoles, but it's hard to imagine anyone getting inspired to buy a Wii U after simply futzing around with a Mii on their phones. At the same time, Nintendo's hit life simulators Animal Crossing and Tomodachi Life prove that performing mundane everyday tasks could be quite addicting, so we'll see how Miitomo shakes out when it lands on our phones early next year.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.