A few months ago, we outside of Japan got our first look at the oddity that is Tomodachi Life. The game is a sequel to the Japan-exclusive DS title Tomodachi Collection, a life-sim game in which miis inhabit an island where you can interact with them as they live out their strange lives. This game isn’t much different other than some upgrades to various systems in the game and more content. However, now that we have an official release outside of Japan, we can give the game a proper review for what it is.
The game looks about as good as you would expect a Mii-based game on 3DS to look. Generally, there are mostly very blocky visuals in most places with any and all items just being .jpegs of food or objects. Definitely not the most graphically intensive game of the year, but it’s a visual style that works for this kind of game. In terms of aesthetics, it is pretty appealing with the various Mii costumes you can have as well as the interiors that are available for the Miis’ apartments.
This is where there is most to say about the game. You don’t control any particular Mii, you’re playing as yourself and interacting with the Miis on the island. Miis come to you with problems and you fix them by giving them food, clothes, items, or advice. Miis can start relationships with eachother whether they are simply friendships or romantic relationships (Unless they’re the same sex. That’s a point off, Nintendo) that can lead up to marriage and even children. They’ll normally come to you first to ask if they should be friends with people or if they should get married, have children, anything of the sort.
Money is collected on the island by leveling up Miis through happiness, donations each morning, selling things, and completing certain tasks. That money is then used to buy things to give to your Miis to solve their problems and increase their happiness. It’s all a cycle that ends up being very addicting once you get into it.
Certain events will happen on the island at different points during the day. There’s markets at the fountain and park, chat sessions at the cafe, a Final Fantasy-style RPG minigame at the amusement park, and even rap battles at the end of the day. They can all be entertaining, but they are primarily based on listening to your Miis interact with each other.
When in your Miis’ apartments, you can do more then just give them things. If they’re sleeping, you can look into their dreams, which are always very odd, look into their stomachs to see what they’ve eaten, or into their heads to see what they’ve been thinking about. Only the dreams pose any actual use to the game though, because you get an item from their dream once you leave it. The rest of those are just for fun.
Because the game uses a random system for relationships, and you have no way of deciding who gets attracted to who, aspects of relationships in the game can get frustrating. I tried to hook my girlfriend’s Mii up with mine, and when hers waited where they agreed to meet up, mine stood her up and they never tried again. Of course, compatibility of the Miis is based on their zodiac sign, which in turn is entirely dependent on their birthday; so if you want certain Miis to be together, you may want to look into compatibility between zodiac signs and alter birthdays accordingly.
In the end, the gameplay is amusing for a while, and pretty addictive. Pretty much all you see is what you get though, so if it looks like a kind of thing you won’t like, then chances are, you won’t.
The music is pretty fitting for the game, silly little fun music at any given point, and customizable songs for your Miis to sing. One of the gifts you can give Miis when they level up is a song of any genre you choose. Each genre has one specific tune to it, but you can change the lyrics any way you want as long as they aren’t inappropriate (but if you’re creative, you can get around that). This is one game where I can pretty easily say that the music works very well for what the game is. It’s nothing too special, but it works as it should.
Tomodachi Life is a fun game, and a very ridiculous game. The good thing about it is that it’s all on the surface, what you see if what you get. If you feel like you’re not going to like it, then you shouldn’t get it, but if you like weird game and this looks interesting to you, then it is absolutely worth the purchase. I would say that it probably needs a bit more in the way of control of situations for any future titles though. It’s not something to do constantly, but something to check a few times a day, kind of like Animal Crossing, if you’re really into it though it can end up being a very frequent thing.