Game

Nintendo, giant of the videogaming world and creator of franchises including Mario, Zelda and Pokémon, has released its first smartphone app – and somewhat surprisingly, it’s not strictly a game. A few weeks after soft-launching in Japan, social communication app Miitomo is now available worldwide on the App Store.

Miitomo is based around the cute cartoon avatars called Miis that were first introduced a decade ago with the Nintendo Wii. If you’re familiar with them, not much has changed visually – but now your custom-built Mii character can speak to your friends, dress up in wacky costumes and pose for amusing images. It is Nintendo, after all, so there’s also a cutesy (but entirely luck-driven) Pachinko-style minigame included to unlock new items like clothes and features.

It’s first and foremost a social experience, and of course all this stuff can be shared with your friends via Facebook and Twitter. The Miis themselves interact in the app by asking each other unusual questions designed to uncover new and fun facts about your buddies. Nintendo describes this function as a “social go-between,” and though it may sound like an odd premise Miitomo has already clocked up more than 3 million downloads worldwide.

The app is perhaps best described by the mesmerizingly weird commercial Nintendo made to advertise it. It features some bizarre scenes – we won’t spoilt it for you – but actually does a good job of summarizing the point of the app. Check it out below.

It may be a strange first offering from Nintendo, but the company has promised four more mobile games – actual games, this time – before 2017. It’ll be interesting to see whether any of those games will draw from Nintendo’s existing range of popular franchises or create something completely new. In the meantime, you can download Miitomo for free on the App Store.