Tomodachi Life Review for Nintendo 3DS

Tomodachi Life Review for Nintendo 3DS

Bring Mii to Life

I am an observer. Yes, I can interact with the citizens milling below me. I watch their lives pass, as they live their lives. Sometimes, my guidance or assistance is requested. My bounty may rain down upon these people, milling like ants across a hill, dropping food, clothing, and shelter. I can even advise them on the correct course of action in select situations.

Am I some kind of god? No, I’m just a person playing Tomodachi Life , the first installment in Nintendo’s Tomodachi Collection series to get released outside of Japan. The citizens are the legion of Miis that have been imported into my game. They know me, even respect me, but I am not one of them.

Tomodachi Life Screenshot

It’s an interesting feeling and approach, and one could consider it a more passive version of EA’s Sims series. A Tomodachi Life player is very much involved in their Miis lives, even if they’re only importing a character from Mii Maker or scanning a QR code. They pick their synthesized voice and personality, provide food, clothing and room furnishings, and play games with these little characters, to start. That isn’t even taking into account incidentals like medicines, hair dyes, bathing supplies, vacation tickets and cameras. Not to mention how indecisive these Miis can be. They often want, nay, demand your opinion on what they do, who they interact with, and even which people they should love. You can even turn the songs that they sing into pro-player propaganda.

But, don’t let these illusions of choice fool you. Part of the magic of Tomodachi Life is how unpredictable it can be. From the dreams of Miis circling food or treasures, praising them, to their sudden “cheating” in the dropped item mini-game, to relationships developing without a player’s noticing, this game is full of surprises. For example, I often found deep friendships forming between characters without my knowledge. Suddenly, two people would be best friends, even though it didn’t seem as though they spent as much time together as other Miis. Miis would happen into unexpected relationships.

Tomodachi Life Screenshot

I’d almost say it’s part simulation, part social experiment. Miis get into fights and live in this virtual world, and players get to shape said world. Suggestions can be offered, as to whether certain relationships would be good ideas, but who knows if they’ll take that advice? A Mii may confess feelings to one you think would be a good match, but another suitor could pop up during the confession and cause the process to go awry.

Which also means it’s a bit unorthodox when it comes to actual gameplay. Yes, there are some simulation staples. Miis do get hungry and it’s best to keep them well fed, but they honestly don’t have to have a full stomach. They won’t get sick or die if their tummies remain empty for a few hours, or even treat the player any differently. And while there are mini-games, like making a Mii sneeze, answering trivia, guessing at object identities, and even playing a rudimentary Tomodachi Quest every day, much of Tomodachi Life is spent enjoying the show.

Tomodachi Life Screenshot

The Miis will need assistance and entertainment from time to time, demanding it with icons on their apartments that indicate whether they have a problem, want to play, or need love advice. Yet, they aren’t constantly calling for attention. I found I had just as much fun playing as I did observing their interactions with one another in their rooms, in their dreams, or during an “event.”

Though, there is another element to Tomodachi Life , and that is the collection aspect. There are hundreds of different food items, outfits, interiors and treasures to collect. Shop selections change daily, and some seasonal items are only available at specific times. Even StreetPass plays a factor in the accumulation of goods, as each person gets one specific outfit to export, and only via StreetPassing can an island’s Import Store be stocked with new goods. This may awaken a Pokémon or Animal Crossing kind of mentality, in some, and become a driving force in convincing people to return to the game. It’s just a shame the treasures are only a means of acquiring more funds for supplying Miis with necessities, as it would have been lovely to decorate rooms with things like Virtual Consoles and keychain skeletons.

That isn’t the only reason I think people will keep coming back to Tomodachi Life , though. As silly as it may sound, I found myself forming connections with these Miis that looked like my family and friends. Even the ones that were celebrities or strangers started to matter. I’d screenshot their entertaining adventures, and it was like they were coming alive in my head. I reached a point where I’d text or tweet at my friends, letting them know what was going on in their Miis lives. I celebrated a birthday with one. I watched others get married. Today, as I write this article, I was able to see the birth of the first, original Mii child in my game.

Back when The Sims 2 came out, a few of my friends and I got into the habit of playing dynasties. We’d start a new game with a handful of families in a town, and see what happened. Sometimes we’d determine who would get married or become friends, other times we allowed gave them a measure of free will. We’d watch these families grow and blend together over virtual decades. I can easily see that happening with Tomodachi Life . Players will get involved in these colorful and fanciful Miis’ lives, and will spend weeks and months watching as their apartment fills with all kinds of original characters based on their tenants.

Tomodachi Life Screenshot

Tomodachi Life is a pick-up-and-play game, to be sure, but I also think it’s a start-it-and-leave game as well. It’s the kind of time sink that can be enjoyed while you’re engaged in other activities. Want to read a book or browse the web? Have your island open on your 3DS nearby, and check in every 15-30 minutes to see if anyone needs anything. Check in on special events that happen throughout the day, but live your life in between.

There’s something else that I realized, thanks to Tomodachi Life . It’s really helped me appreciate the Mii avatar creation system. I always thought they were cute, in a quirky kind of way, but now that I’m interacting with them on a daily basis, I appreciate how much detail it captures. The more I look at them, the more I realize how much the Miis of friends, family and celebrities that I have imported into the game resemble them.

Tomodachi Life is a unique game. It’s a simulation, sure, but the random elements and varying personalities of the Miis keep it from being as straightforward as something conventional like The Sims . It’s more of an opportunity to put Miis into a virtual world and play around with them. The players won’t always have control, but they’ll still have a good time. That said, I can see some people who are craving something more straightforward feeling letdown by the fact that don’t have total control over the Miis lives and actions. Overall, I think anyone who takes a chance on this unorthodox property will have a positive experience, and hope Nintendo will build upon this franchise.

Tomodachi Life is cartoonish and surreal. 5.0 Control
The touchpad is life and all you’ll ever need. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The tunes are poppy, but the synthesized voices can get annoying. 4.0 Play Value
It’s absolutely entertaining, but there is room for improvement and treasures seem underutilized. 4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Play fun games with Mii characters, give them gifts, and watch their relationships grow into something more.
  • Observe and participate in a vibrant world where unexpected things happen every day.
  • Create Mii characters, pick their personalities, ages, voices, and more.
  • Take pictures of your islanders and share them via Nintendo Image Share.
  • Share Mii creations with friends locally or online by creating a QR Code.

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