How Metroidvania is it? Not a Metroidvania. It has some Metroid-like upgrades as you progress through the game, and some health upgrades hidden within the levels, but besides that it's a strictly linear platformer with no backtracking.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~4 hours
Review Info: The Steam review code for Miracle Mia was provided by the developer.
Buy Miracle Mia if you like…
- Hero's Journey Stories
- Knocking Enemy Projectiles back to them
- Finding hidden secrets
- Changing variety in abilities as you progress
- Linear Platformers
▼ Review continues below ▼
Reviewing Miracle Mia on this site is a little bit of a stretch; it’s strictly a linear platformer and it’s not linked to any other Metroidvania style games. However, when the developer sent me the review code he described it as “Metroidvania-like”, and I’ve seen a few Steam reviews making similar comparisons, so I don’t think it’s unfair for it to be here if for no other reason than to clear the air a little. I never rate games higher or lower based on their “Metroidvania-ness’ – I make the distinction merely to help readers find games similar to what they’re looking for. Miracle Mia therefore isn’t a bad platformer, but if you’re looking for a stronger emphasis on Metroidvania elements, I’d recommend checking out one of our other reviews.
Miracle Mia opens up with a normal day on the train when it’s suddenly besieged by strange geometric monsters – called “Geos”. You’re given a tutorial on the game’s main racketball-based mechanics and soon become an anime style Magic Girl when you find a “miracle weapon” racket that allows you to teleport to specific hooks in the level design.
The plot plays out like a Saturday morning cartoon, with some pretty typical twists and turns. Character interactions are genuine, and as a result emotions are relatable and easy to invest yourself in. It’s campy, so the tensions never get too high, but it is cute enough that the story could be enjoyed by itself.
Since your main weapon is a racket, the primary gimmick of the game is whacking enemy projectiles back to them. This is a really cool idea, but the execution does not address the idea’s most obvious issue; you have to wait for the enemy to attack to fight back. It’s awkward and painfully slow to wait for enemies to shoot. This is especially true since they seem to be programmed to only shoot when you’re NOT spamming your racket swings, so a mistimed swing just extends the waiting time. Thus it becomes much faster to just melee them with the racket. When this option is available it obviously diminishes the value of making this a main mechanic, so of course there are points in the game where melee is either too dangerous or completely not an option, making Miracle Mia a poor choice for the impatient gamer.
Level design and enemy placement isn’t particularly bad, but the animations are a little loose, with somewhat unpredictable telegraphing. This makes combat frustrating where it should be finely tuned. The way the designer decided to address this issue was to feed you health refills during boss fights and other combat, but this is more of a band-aid fix than a true solution. It also makes the fights seem more luck-based since you can’t have any foreknowledge of what might provide you with healing until you’ve died a few times. Instead of being “hard but fair”, Miracle Mia ends up being “kinda fun but a little sloppy.”
As you progress you get movement upgrades, which is probably where the “Metroidvania-like” idea comes from. I think the best comparison I can make is to Kid Dracula. In both of these games you complete levels one after another with no autonomy on the order which you do them, but you get power-ups that affect how you play subsequent levels. There is no backtracking to older levels with new abilites, so these abilities might as well be constructive level gimmicks rather than tools for exploration puzzle solving. These upgrades do change up the game in fun ways however, so Miracle Mia is definitely better for having them; I’m merely pointing out that “Metroid-like Upgrades” do not make a “Metroidvania-like Game”. Pankapu – a similarly linear platformer – at least gave you the option to take your new powers to old levels and unlock new pathways, making it more comparable to the genre.
Miracle Mia isn’t completely bereft of exploration however. The levels sometimes split off into two pathways – usually with one of them slightly more obscured. The optional path might have a shield upgrade, which is effectively more HP. Most of the time these upgrades are guarded by a mini-boss, so finding these upgrades also allows you to see everything the game has to offer. You’re allowed to go back to any previous chapter at any time to get shields you missed (with only the powers you would have unlocked at that point in the game), but there isn’t any indicator on the level select showing whether it has a shield upgrade. So, if you missed it the first time, you may spend a lot of time wandering to get them all. Personally, I found it easier to just cheese the enemy AI and pray for health refills than to try and guess how many shield upgrades are even in the game.
Miracle Mia is thus a great idea, but poorly executed. Band-aid fixes make it decent, but unfortunately it’s doomed to fade against the backdrop of greater games. Thanks to a cute and engaging plot I never found myself completely bored during the experience, but with hordes of 2D platformers of all kinds available on just Steam alone, it’s hard to recommend Miracle Mia to anyone that isn’t simply attracted to it. If you find yourself in that niche, I’m happy to report that it isn’t bad, just don’t go into it with too high expectations.
Basing a game around the idea of bouncing enemy projectiles back to them is a good one, but the execution here is a little loose
Especially with the teleportation ability controls don't always seem like they work the way they're suppose to
Occasionally there are health upgrades to find but otherwise the game is completely linear
There aren't really any puzzles to speak of
The plot is executed quite well, although it is a pretty typical magical girl hero's journey
The aesthetic is quite nice, but the animation quality greatly contributes to this game's main issues
Nice Asian style relaxation music sets a great mood for the game
You can revisit any chapter you want to search for health upgrades, but not many other features to get you to come back.
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