If you’ve ever stared at one of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s random villagers and thought, “Hey, that looks like a Mii,” it could be because the two might be related.
Overnight, Twitter user and self-proclaimed Mii expert HEYimHeroic wrote that certain non-player characters in Breath of the Wild are based on an advanced version of existing Mii designs, which are used for player avatars on Nintendo consoles and in some games. According to HEYimHeroic, this means that in addition to Breath of the Wild’s NPCs looking like more detailed Miis, it’s also possible to mod players’ existing Miis directly into hacked versions of the game.
“Basically, [Breath of the Wild NPCs] use an evolution of Miis, which the game’s files call ‘UMii’s (which is what I’ll be calling them from now on),” HEYimHeroic wrote in a Reddit thread. “UMiis have almost all the same parameters as Wii U/3DS Miis, with a few minor differences here and there, like moles no longer being supported.” While all NPCs in the game are seemingly based on “UMiis,” only the Hylian (human) characters have physical traits that mimic a traditional Mii’s.
For example, with help from the Zelda Mod Discord, HEYi’mHeroic was able to mod the recently added Smash Bros. Ultimate Mii for Barret from Final Fantasy VII into Breath of the Wild, as well as Matt, one of the first Mii opponents you face in the original Wii Sports. They were able to successfully inject their own Mii, Alice, into the game as well, though because its original hairstyle isn’t supported in Breath of the Wild’s “UMii” designs, it defaulted to something else. In theory, this means modders could also “backport” Breath of the Wild NPCs into Mii characters, though that process is much messier.
HEYimHeroic, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, is responsible for both the WiiFactsPlus Twitter account and Tumblr, which collect and share hyper-specific information about Miis, as well as the Mii Library project, which seeks to document every official Mii that’s appeared in a game. Nintndo has been using the avatar format, which lets players customize faces, body types, and accessories, since the Wii released in 2006. As HEYimHeroic documents, there are also dozens of pre-made Miis with names that have appeared as actual characters in games.
There’s still a lot of work to be done analyzing exactly how Breath of the Wild’s “UMiis” compare to the traditional Miis though. “[N]ot every value is known, there are still many interactions that we’re unsure of, etc.,” HEYimHeroic wrote, adding that they’ll provide more complete documentation of the discovery and how folks can inject their own Miis into Breath of the Wild once it’s ready.
Update - 8:23 a.m. ET, 1/11/2021: HEYimHeroic discussed their discovery, how it happened, and its potential ramifications for the future of Miis, in a new interview with IGN.
While similarities between Breath of the Wild NPCs and Miis have been suggested for years now, HEYimHeroic’s discovery of the actual ID values that determine how one of the game’s UMiis appears is what provided the direct link.
“Every type of mouth, eyes, hair, etc. all have a certain ID value attached to them with Miis,” HEYimHeroic told IGN. “The big thing here is that UMiis also share the exact same ID values, so this part’s probably the easiest - just copy and paste the ID value from the Mii into the UMii!”
What this means for the future of Miis—whether they might officially be brought back at some point in a new game or Nintendo console—remains unknown, but the discovery gave the Mii-ologist hope they’ll live on in some form. “[A]s long as they’re willing to make things like UMiis that have plenty of Mii DNA in their files, I’ll be able to find workarounds eventually, and get Miis into games that shouldn’t even have them. At least then, we still have Miis in some form.”