Review by Tara
On March 14th, 2014, Nintendo released a small, yet crazy Nintendo Direct video announcing the North American and European releases of a game called Tomodachi Life, which immediately piqued nearly everyone’s interest. What was Tomodachi Life exactly? Nintendo didn’t really give their Western audiences too much information on it apart from the fact that it was a game where you can import your Miis onto an island, give them a voice and personality, and then just simply watch the silliness happen…And in all honesty, Tomodachi Life is exactly that.
To give non-players an idea of what the game is like, it is something like a meeting between Animal Crossing and The Sims, without being both of those games at the exact same time. Another way of putting it is that the game could appropriately be considered a ‘Mii Theatre,’ as you are the omnipotent overseer of an island with fairly little impact on what the inhabitants do in terms of interactions with each other. In fact, the most you can do is solve some of their daily problems, such as feeding them, clothing them, resolving conflicts and even helping them to confess their love and propose to each other.
Tomodachi Life also becomes significantly more interesting with the more Miis you add to your island (the maximum number of Miis being 100), allowing more activities and interactions. Miis can even get married and have children in the game if the player so chooses, but those particular happenings occur mostly by chance and is beyond the player’s discretion of when it will happen beyond prompting their islanders to do so. This factor can lead to some really bizarre and hilarious relationships in the game. If a child does happen to be born, the player then has the choice of whether or not to send it off to other islands via the Street Pass feature on the 3DS, or can have them move into their own apartment on the player’s Island if they have the space.
Overall, playing this game is highly addictive for the first little while at least. You visit your island every day, collect your Mii’s money and go about buying the new daily foods, clothing, and even rooms. Sometimes you can get special items from passing players or from Nintendo themselves. Either way, there is always something going on, and often includes your Miis in wacky situations. Even at night, Miis will have an array of dreams which are nothing short of weird.
The only drawback to this game is that it does become a little repetitive after a certain point, and one might want to take a lengthy break from it for a time. However, unlike a game such as Animal Crossing which involves daily mechanics, you can easily put the game down for months on end, or even years, and pick it up after a while and continue on with no repercussions. At most, your island Miis may mention to you that you had been gone for a while and you may have missed out on some exclusive items, but that really is about it.
Tomodachi Life really is a game that needs to be experienced in order to understand it. Since its release, Nintendo has finally allowed for a free demo to be downloaded from their e-Shop for those curious about it to try it out. While much of what the initial game play entails has been covered in this article, words really can’t express how unique this game truly is.
It is also important to note that Tomodachi Life is a sequel to the game first released in Japan several years prior under the title Tomodachi Collection (the newer game is referred to as Tomodachi Collection: New Life) and has been localized for Western audiences, creating a handful of differences between versions (i.e. North American versions of the game have NPC characters visualized with wooden blocks for heads, while Europe’s has robot heads) though nothing so dire that one can’t tell it’s the same game throughout. In essence, this is a very Japanese game, and while it may not be for everyone, it is good, innocent fun, and it would definitely be one this reviewer recommends if you’re looking for something casual enough to be used fleetingly while still holding an interest.