Moving from the Famicom disk system to the transition – the evolution of the Miis from Nintendo

Image: Nintendo Life

Over the holidays, we are re-posting some of our best articles, interviews, opinions, and talking points from the previous 12 months. from both employees and participants – Articles that we think represent our best of 2021. In them you will find our usual mixture of thoughtfulness, frivolity and retro. expertise, nostalgia for games and, of course, enthusiasm for everything related to Nintendo. Enjoy!

Ah, Mii. We remember when we first created our own Miis in 2006. At the time, we were probably most often customizing the characters, Simsso making Miis from our friends, family, and our favorite video game characters was a lot of fun. It’s a shame, then, that Nintendo has moved away from its Miis, presumably in an attempt to distance the Switch from the Wii branding. Those funny avatars still exist, of course – the Switch has its own Mii Maker, but it’s not as pronounced and has certainly faded into the background in recent years.

With that said, the launch of Miitopia on Switch this Friday means Miis will be back in full swing with their own improved Mii Maker, so we thought it would be fun to take a look at the history of Miis – which led to their development. , their popularity and, ultimately, their secondary importance.

From Miyamoto’s thoughts

Mii for Nintendo GDC 2007
Image: Nintendo, GDC 2007

The idea of ​​creating your own characters for video games was one that Nintendo had been hatching in their offices since the days of the NES. Returning to the Famicom Disk System, Shigeru Miyamoto thought it would be fun if players could use the console to create their own faces for the characters that you could control after inserting a separate “script disk”. As indicated by the person himself in 2007 GDC Keynote Address that charted the evolution of the Mii, even a prototype was developed, but when Miyamoto presented his idea to other Nintendo executives, they really struggled to figure out how it could be turned into a fun game, and so the idea was shelved.

However, Miyamoto is known for his tenacity, and this idea will not go unnoticed. He waited, waiting for technology to catch up with his concept, and they did real game along with this character creation software. And it took two generations of consoles before that happened when Nintendo released its second disk system add-on, the Nintendo 64 DD.

Say chiise!

Mario Artist talent studio
Image: LuigiBlood

With the increased power of the Nintendo 64 and the space provided by proprietary 64DD discs, Nintendo has revamped its character creation software and added a Japan-exclusive game called Mario Artist: Talent Studio, the second game in the Mario Artist lineup and the successor to Mario Paint for the SNES. This 64DD game was all about creating your own characters called “Talents”, dressing them up in different outfits, and then creating short 3D films using the software. The talents you create can even be imported and used in other games in the Mario Artist line.

While you could just paint the face of the talent using in-game creation software, one of the important features that Nintendo promoted was the ability to take photos and use them to create their characters. A feature that was originally supposed to be included in Rare’s Perfect Dark (until Nintendo said it didn’t like the idea of ​​letting players shoot each other in the face), this face transfer could be done with the Game Boy camera by taking a picture … and using the Nintendo 64 Transfer Package to be imported into the game, or with any camera that supports NTSC video output, and transferred using the supplied capture cassette. This allowed for incredible (at the time) detail of these characters, the level of accuracy that we can only see, comparable to the new creator in Miitopia.

Unfortunately, Talent Studio’s options were limited as 64DD never left Japan, so the vast majority of players around the world never encountered it. However, Nintendo was not going to let the idea of ​​the creator go to waste, and therefore began work on the successor to the Nintendo GameCube, called Stage debut, eventually renamed Manebito… This title was a more advanced version of the talent maker, retaining the ability to photograph yourself with the Game Boy camera, but also using the Nintendo GBA e-Reader cards so that you could bring pre-made characters like celebrities into the game.

This concept was shown to the public at E3 2002, but was never presented. Nintendo faced the same problem again; after the character was created, there was nothing left to do with him except to make stupid films. The project was frozen again, and it looked like the end of Miyamoto’s character creation concept.

Time to Shine Mii

At the time, unbeknownst to Miyamoto, a completely separate team at Nintendo was working on the Nintendo DS software and developing their own character creation kit. Inspired by the view kokeshi dollsThe models were very similar to the Miis and this impressed then-NCL President Satoru Iwata. He informed Miyamoto of the project, and Miyamoto left the ship immediately, leaving his previous crew and Manebito to work on this new Kokeshi project.

However, the team was still struggling to find uses for the characters. They might have put together a collection of mini-games, but they knew that eventually the players would stop playing and the characters would remain unused and unloved. The Wii was also in development around that time, and the team tasked with creating Wii Sports was struggling to come up with aesthetics. They tried to use Mario characters, which seemed wrong. They wanted it to be like player He was a tennis pro, not some upstart plumber.

So Wii Sports lacked characters, and DS team character creation tool lacked game. You can see where this is going.

Nintendo GDC 2007 Mii 2
Image: Nintendo, GDC 2007

Miyamoto reached out to the Wii Sports team, some of whom were working on Talent Studio, to turn this DS software into something that could run on the Wii. The decision was made to open the software to the entire Wii system, not just Wii Sports, to get around the one-time issue of these avatars. There were even plans to bring back the ability to turn their own photos into Miis by connecting an SD card to the Wii – this was canceled due to concerns that not many Wii users would want to go through with it.

In the upcoming Mario Golf: Super Rush, you will be able to play with Mii, although it may be difficult for a community that has already tried out the expanded Miitopia toolkit to revert to regular “old” Mii.

And from here we have Miis as we know and love them today. They have become a staple of the Nintendo system for the Wii, 3DS and Wii U eras. Various Wii game lines (Wii Play, Wii Party, Wii Music, etc.) will use these characters and Mii will have additional chances to prove themselves in the Tomodachi Collection for DS (in Japan) and later 3DS. , Tomodachi Life. The original 3DS Miitopia gave avatars their own RPG, they will form an integral part of the much-neglected Wii U Miiverse social hub, and will also be used in other games such as Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. that allowed players to race and fight alongside iconic mascots of Nintendo. And who can forget the ill-fated Miitomo mobile experiment? Of course we can’t.

So this brings us to the end of our look at the long and tumultuous history of Mii, a concept that has been in development for almost 20 years. The announcement of Miitopia for the Switch came as a bit of a surprise, and its more advanced creator Mii brought talented gamers into town with some truly impressive creations, much like we did in 2006 when the Wii was launched. In the upcoming Mario Golf: Super Rush, you will be able to play with Mii, although it may be difficult for a community that has already tried out the expanded Miitopia toolkit to revert to regular “old” Mii.

That said, perhaps Miitopia on Switch is a sign that there is even more life left in Miis. If so, we can’t wait to see what crazy creative plans Nintendo has in store for them.


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