I recently went out and purchased Tomodachi Life, for the Nintendo 3DS. The title was very anticipated, advertised, and hyped by life sim lovers everywhere. Initially, it seemed like a game I would enjoy. I’m a big fan of “regular” games, like RPG’s, FPS’s, and the like, but Life Simulators have been and will always probably be my favorite type of game. I’ve always been in love with Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, The Sims, Sim City, etc. They are my most beloved franchises. So of course, a Nintendo Original Life Sim falls into the category of games I would like, by nature.
I don’t know if I missed the boat with advertising and hype, (everyone on all social media sites were raving about it,) but I didn’t pick it up immediately, just kind of put it on the back burner as something I might like to try later. It wasn’t until I saw PeanutButterGamer’s review of Tomodachi Life on YouTube, that I decided I definitely needed to have the game in my life.
I went to the Nintendo E-Shop on my 3DS, hoping to download it and avoid going to the store, (plus, its a few bucks cheaper for the digital copy,) but there were warnings about the game taking up quite a bit of space in that form, so I hauled myself out and picked it up.
I was not dissapoint!
After naming your Tomodachi Island, you create your own personal character, or your “look-alike,” as characters in the game will call it. You enter your name and information, including birth-date, so that the game can ascertain whether you’re a “kid” or a “grown up.” You can skip the former if need be, and just tell it the latter if you wish, however.
I was pleasantly surprised about the personality options, they’re quite varied, and actually end up resulting in a character that is virtually a mini you, if you know yourself well enough. This is especially fun when making “look-alikes” of your friends and family; the little characters end up saying phrases and doing things these people would actually do, at least in my experience.
I found this out through more favored foods (yes, you feed them!) and gifts you can give your islanders during the game. In fact, these actions drive the reward system for the player.
Tomodachi Life is akin to Animal Crossing in the way that it goes by real time. You put in the actual date and time in when you begin. I started well into the evening, which is a bit of a bummer, because some of the islanders I created were asleep, and I was unable to interact with them initially. This would be a turn off for me if not for the fact that it actually gave me a reason to pick up the game later, so I could see what they were up to, and also because it makes it a game you can pick up pretty much any time, and put down without feeling pressured to finish a quest or mission. Perfect for car rides, waiting in line, or lunch breaks!
Allover, customizationis superb; just varied enough, but not too complicated. The physical options for characters are the same as the ones you’ll find for Mii’s on the Nintendo Wii, with a few newer, cooler options. You can also customize clothes and apartment decor later into the game; I found it fun picking out outfits, accessories, and living spaces I thought were tailored to each of my friends’ tastes.
Not all of the locations on your island with be unlocked, all of them open triggered by events that take place on your is land and between your characters. This is genius, because it gives the player incentive to keep picking the game back up, and driving them to unlock those places and further their progress in the game, eliminating some of the soon to automatic monotony and boredom that some Life Sims will fall victim to. In fact, that is one of my only complaints about Life Sims; I have a very short attention span. I put down games and books as soon as I pick them up, or play/read several at once if they don’t manage to maintain my attention for long periods of time.
That being said, I’m not very far into the game, and whether or not it continues to be engaging remains to be seen.
Tomodachi Life hints that as characters form their own relationships, they will sometimes get married, and even have children! Spoilers: No same-sex relationships. (Shame on you, still, Nintendo.) I found this to be another fun addition, because it saves the player from getting bored with the same old characters. Plus, the kids are a crap-shoot! The player has no way of knowing how they will turn out, and can only guess by the attitudes and appearances of its parents.
At the end of the day, Tomodachi Life is probably most alike with The Sims games in that, you experience the lives of the people you created and watch their relationships grow as opposed to actively playing the game, with one distinguishing factor; that being, it is much less maintenance! Like Animal Crossing, life goes on in your Island when you’re not actively present, however, if Sims games were like this, every time you came back to your game, your main sim will have cheated on their spouse with the maid, the house will have burned to the ground, the plants would be dead, and your dog will have probably been abducted by aliens. Congratulations, you’re now the proud owner of a family of angry ghosts! (And maybe a few aliens.)
In fact, I find Tomodachi’s gameplay most similar to a few early online games that circa early 2000’s where you could control a high school or town and populate it with people from your real life and just watch them go, creating their own relationships with only a little interaction from the player. With very limited and dated customization, of course.
I digress. The only thing I can forsee being an issue in the future is that, like stated earlier about Life Sims, I will get bored. As open ended games, however, its okay to get bored with Life Sims, because you can always come back fresh at a later date, and experience the initial joy all over again with a new perspective.
There are also some Wario Ware-esque mini-games you can play with your islanders, and they’re actually quite engaging.
One more fun tidbit before I wrap up: one of the main points advertised about this game when it was released was that you could “party on your island with your favorite celebrities,” and you can! (To an extent.)
If the person of interest in question owns Tomodachi Life, you can capture a QR code for their character, and have them move directly into your Island!
I wouldn’t say there are many “famous” people I would be interested in having on my island, because its kind of more fun to have people in your actual life to “play” with, but I’m kind of a YouTube nerd, so I ended up moving the whole Game Grumps crew into my island. (So far, Ross wants to be friends with EVERYONE, and Barry only gets along with Danny, really. #ilovedanny)
This is also a time saver if you have real friends who own the game; instead of wasting 5-10 minutes making their “look-alike” you are a QR code away from hauling them right in with no fuss.
Tomodachi Life for Nintendo 3DS:
8.5/10 Cat Bugs!