Review

Tomodachi Life Review

  • Game release: June 6, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • 3DS

Game of life.

A cross between The Sims, Animal Crossing, and the stranger parts of otaku culture, Tomodachi Life is a game that's unashamedly Japanese. At times it's hilarious; at other times it's utterly bewildering. Your animated collection of Miis need to be fed and watered, and their wants for the finer things in their virtual lives satisfied. They cry out to be played with in wonderfully odd minigames, and update you with the latest happenings on their island home from behind a suitably cheesy news desk. Tomodachi Life is the Tamagotchi all grown up. But, like that piece of '90s virtual pet nostalgia, it wasn't enough to keep me entertained once the novelty wore off.

Still, Tomodachi Life is quite the wacky novelty while it lasts, particularly if you're populating your virtual island with friends and family from your own life--or, in my case, members of the GameSpot UK crew. You can create some eerily recognizable caricatures of your chums using the standard Mii creation tools, along with the new customizable voices for the game's text-to-speech engine. Granted, the text-to-speech engine isn't the most flattering, but its slightly robotic qualities add to the kitsch charm of the game. Likewise, a set of assignable attributes, such as how much energy your Miis have or how serious or light their moods are, add personality and generate a specific profile for each one. That profile isn't just for show, either. Likes, dislikes, how needy they are, how often they need to be fed, and their compatibility with other Miis are all linked into each character's personality profile.

Not quite 8 Mile.

Disappointingly, that same level of customization doesn't apply to the island itself, which is built up automatically--not that you don't already have your hands full. Needy Miis cry out for food as soon as they've set foot in their shared apartment block, while others demand new clothes, or a new premade look for their bare home. Shops scattered around the island are stocked with an eclectic range of cuisines and items from the familiar to the downright bizarre to spoil your Miis with. Edibles like spaghetti Bolognese from Italy, roast beef from England, and beef bourguignon from France--complete with quirky real-life pictures--make up the cuisine, while checked shirts, summer dresses, and more esoteric items like ice cream hats and firefighter uniforms make up the outfits.

There's lots of fun to be had dressing up your friends in the most absurd outfits and watching their faces wince as they fail to appreciate the stylistic pleasures of a "harem pants and giant strawberry hat" combo. But while these crimes against fashion certainly raise a smile, ultimately you need to keep your Miis happy. Stick them in an unflattering outfit or feed them an unappetizing stuffed cabbage roll one too many times, and their happiness rating, and the money they give you as a reward, takes a hit. It's a simplistic system, and outside of receiving gifts like Wii U consoles, frying pans, and incredibly cheesy songs to sing inside the island's concert hall (complete with customizable lyrics), your characters barely develop as they level up. As you discover, though, an unhappy islander is not a productive one, particularly when it comes to making friends and developing relationships.

Sometimes your Miis will get crabs... of the baby variety.

Tomodachi Life revolves around relationships, be they romantic or otherwise. Happy islanders ask to make friends, want to introduce people, or declare their undying love for a friend with alarming regularity. They don't always hit it off, particularly if you give them bad advice in the small-talk department, but once friends, they're often at each other's apartment hanging out. You do have the option of telling a Mii not to make friends with another, but expect the dark rain clouds of depression to be (literally) floating over their heads while they get over it. As reported by GameSpot, Miis of the same sex can be friends, but they can never fall in love or go on to propose via a strange but amusing minigame where you have to tap your romantic spiel out in time to the thought bubbles of your partner.

Hammering the heterosexual point home is the ranking board, which displays the vital stats of your islanders, including the most popular and most pampered, and, yes, how desirable your female inhabitants are to the boys. At least Nintendo has gone on the record to say that if the game gets a sequel, it'll be more inclusive. Still, it's hard to take these inclusions and omissions too seriously when attached to a game as absurd as this one, even if Nintendo should do better.

Yes, that's supposed to be me on left. And yes, she's way out of my league.

Once you've got your Miis married off, populating your island with children or gifting items to other islands via StreetPass, there's not a whole lot else to do. The rankings, experience points, and your Miis development (or rather, lack of it) simply aren't deep enough to hold your attention for long. There are plenty of amusing moments, like the cringe-worthy rap battles that happen by the island's fountain, or the minigames that have you picking baby crabs off a Mii with a disembodied human hand and playing a facsimile of an old-school Japanese role-playing game, but these are one-shot deals in the humor department; once you've seen them, the charm soon wears off.

What you're left with is a sophisticated Tamagotchi, and a repetitive cycle of feeding, nursing, and entertaining that is hardly the most absorbing of pastimes. A much deeper system of development for Miis would have gone a long way towards keeping things interesting. That said, there are so many hilarious and curiously bizarre moments to be found along the way that even if the journey to fully fledged family life is a short one before the repetition sets in, it's well worth the trip.

The Good
Wonderfully weird
Charming character animations and visuals
As much fun to mess with your Miis as it is to care for them
Some truly laugh-out-loud moments...
The Bad
...but the novelty soon wears off
Weak character development
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Life sims might not be one of Mark's favorite genres, but he has dabbled with The Sims and tended a garden or two in Animal Crossing. For the purposes of this review, Mark's Miis got married, had some babies, and took part in the odd rap battle or two in the town square.

Discussion

36 comments
prime_l
prime_l

So its like Nintendogs... with Mii's and friendships?

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

I have no personal interest in the game but its great to see it did well for those who like it, its definitely just meant to see the interactions between the Mii's and all the crazy things it does.

VegasAceVII
VegasAceVII

This looks so goofy; I look forward to trying it at a cheap price.

sakaixx
sakaixx

I like games like this

Ghost_Thumbs
Ghost_Thumbs

That last picture caption had me laughing so hard I was in tears, thank you for that.

ewokachu
ewokachu

I'll just stick with Animal Crossing...cause animals are cuter! ^^

Daian
Daian

So this is like The SIms except not fun and childish.

Bowser05
Bowser05

This is actually better than I thought it would get. Nice.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

It's pointless for you to bother making such remarks when games that you don't exactly like will come out regardless of your opinion of them.

Perhaps you like seeing your opinions pop up under publicly viewable articles, egotistical as you are?

disneyskate
disneyskate

Because, you know, the Sims is TOTALLY uber serious and adult, right? You live a pretty sad existence if you just put off games because they aren't generic games set on realism. Why the hell would I want to play a game that's all serious and realistic? Video games are supposed to take me away from those themes into a happier and more colorful world. I mean, it works when it has a story to tell or good gameplay, like The Last of Us, but calling a game "childish" for having it's own identity is just stupid, and FAR more childish than the game itself.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@Daian

It just said that it's fun, but of course you'd ignore that.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

You make questions which are not meant to be answered, and you make insincere apologies which are followed by backhanded remarks.

Really, you like seeing your posts appear, don't you?

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

The reiteration is not meant for you - but of course you would think that it is meant for you anyway, wouldn't you? Egotistical as you are?

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

The reiteration is meant for other people - our posts are publicly viewable after all. The second sentence, however, is meant for you.

I know that you won't go away from these opinions alone. Instead, I will heckle you anyway though, because I can, and because I dislike you.

jeager_titan
jeager_titan

@tom2750 @Gelugon_baat @freedomzealot Can you please use punctuations, please?

IJONOI
IJONOI

@Gelugon_baat @tom2750 IMO ... You both need to go outside, sit under a tree and read a poem while you re-evaluate your lives.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@IJONOI 

You have spoken as if you know what a "proper" life should be.

Also, if you are "advising" others about their lives, how are you living yours? Reading poems under trees?

Yishaijah
Yishaijah

@Gelugon_baat Maybe he does. A proper life is not complicated. And indeed one of it's few restrictions is not continually arguing with strangers about incredibly trivial stuff like a video game, even if they are in the wrong. But I guess someone like you, one who accepts or even advocates unnatural atrocities like homosexuality, is way too backward and twisted to understand these simple things yet. Wise up and turn to The Creator.

And notice how this will be my only post. It's called willpower and having something better to do.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Yishaijah

Well, you can say all that then, but know this piece of wisdom too, since you are so eager to dispense such a thing.

Those "unnatural atrocities"? They will keep existing whether you like it or not, and if the Creator had not wanted these to occur, they wouldn't have happened in the first place.

Think about these - and doubt your own beliefs.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

Oh, so you are a sanctimonious zealot in addition to being a prideful nationalist - you are ticking off so many checklist entries there for typical right-wing die-hard personalities.

Tell you what: What you can consider "evil" still exists anyway, and God has not seen fit to smite whatever you consider "evil" and "sinful".

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

And who's to say that the person won't just accept the "consequences" anyway and remain defiant?

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

Oh sure, go into metaphors now.

Well, if you are going to say that, who would accept that "water" if one already has "water" of his/her own, or from other sources for hydrating succor?

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

That will only happen in a world where there is no such thing as choices, freedomzealot.

This is not the world which we live in - in case you haven't noticed.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

Your "entire point" was a made-up hypothetical situation where a person had no other choice. The difference between that and reality went over your head.

That's another entry ticked off in the checklist which I had mentioned earlier about your sort - making up emblematic scenarios.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

I saw that post, freedomzealot.

The last thing that you want to do in an argument is to address worldly matters with "abstact (sic) ideas".

Again, this is why those who doubt you would treat you like just another zealout who is out of touch with reality.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

Yet your failure to realize that is why you will always sound like a prideful, sanctimonious zealot who are out of touch to those who doubt you.

I didn't just write "I disagree" because I want to turn what you wrote against you.

Also, really, "short-winded"? Don't you mean "long-winded"?

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

I saw that too, freedomzealot, before you deleted it.

You are being quite disingenuous when you equated wilfullness with single-mindedness. I suppose that you don't exactly espouse the freedom of choice - even if it's enshrined in the constitution of your nation.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@freedomzealot 

I had expected you to quote a verse from some religious text sooner or later, but you actually quoted George Orwell. You deserve some kudos for not being as predictable as I thought you would be.

With that said, I suppose that you could quote George Orwell, since conveniently, he does appear to have less-than-kind sentiments against homosexuals - but I doubt that he would support your exploitation of his statements to misrepresent supporters of homosexuality.

Also, here's a catch: as much as George Orwell would have loved to, he could not disagree so much so that homosexuality ceases to exist. I doubt that you could either.

Tomodachi Life More Info

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  • First Released
    • 3DS
    What happens when friends, family, and celebrities become Mii™ characters and live together on an island? Tomodachi Life happens! Start by creating Mii characters and customizing everything about them. Have fun recreating your best friend, your favorite actor, mom and dad, co-workers...whoever! Then watch as they rap, rock, eat donuts, fall in love, break up, go shopping, play games, and live their crazy Mii lives.
    7.2
    Average User RatingOut of 14 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Tomodachi Life
    Developed by:
    Nintendo
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genres:
    Simulation
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    Comic Mischief, Mild Fantasy Violence