After no small amount of hand-wringing on the part of fans (and silence on the part of Nintendo), it has at last been announced that Miitomo, Nintendo’s first mobile phone app, will launch here in the US of A this Thursday, March 31. Described as a “free-to-start social experience that lets users spark one-of-a-kind conversations with friends in a whole new way using Mii characters,” Miitomo leverages the more expressive iteration of the Mii avatars featured in 2014’s charming Tomodachi Life to answer questions and share experiences with fellow gamers.
While it’s unclear whether Nintendo intends this chibi social network to supplement or supplant existing services like Twitter or Facebook–though it’s worth noting that you can link these existing accounts to Miitomo–it certainly seems to have caught on in Japan. The app saw more than 1 million downloads in its first three days of availability, making it the #1 most downloaded free app in both the App Store and Google Play–and thus causing Nintendo shares to spike at over 8 percent.
There’s still time to pre-register before the official launch, which, in addition to helping you secure your preferred username, also nets you some Platinum Points in the new My Nintendo rewards program. These points, along with the Gold Points earned when purchasing eShop titles, can be redeemed for rewards like games, DLC, and even items within Miitomo itself, which will hopefully take the sting out of some of my inevitable in-app purchases.
Alongside Miitomo and the My Nintendo program, Nintendo is also rolling out enhanced Wii U and Nintendo 3DS shops on Nintendo.com that promise to make it easier to find and purchase titles and send them directly to the system in question. While none of these are exactly new developments in the realm of current-gen console/handheld gaming, I, for one, can’t wait to check everything out come Thursday!