Video Game Wednesdays criteria include a) being electronic in nature and b) being a game
I swear, right now, I have no idea what possessed me to pick up this game. It’s not my usual gaming fare, to say the least. (Though I do play Sims 3 and Sims Medieval, which are similar in some ways… we’ll get into that another time.)
However, after playing it off and on for several weeks, I actually enjoy it. So let’s talk a bit about it, shall we?
The game starts you off on a basically empty island (which you get to name,) and tells you to import a Mii to live there. It’s heavily suggested you import your Mii double, as islanders will forever refer to you afterwards as the first Mii’s lookalike. After that, they suggest you import your best friend, or parent(s), or spouse, or whatever, to live on the island so the first Mii isn’t lonely. After that, you can import Mii’s from photos, Mii Maker, or QR codes whenever you want. I currently have about 40 Miis living on my island. I am not sure how many you can have all total. You can find QR codes all over the internet, for everything from anime characters to superheros. I made most of my own Miis, but I imported a few. This means you can have everyone from Link to Catwoman running around and making friends with each other, and just goofing off in their apartments. Needless to say, it makes for some entertaining viewing. There’s something inherently funny in watching Batman run around his apartment playing airplane, or Zelda playing on a Wii U. And yes, it’s as hilarious as it is weird.
On the note of Miis making friends, there’ll be some unlikely friendships, depending on who’s on your island. On my island alone, Wolverine and Hal Jordan are best friends, as are Elsa (from Frozen) and Wally West (otherwise known as Kid Flash/Flash.) My Mii is best friends with Robin and the 10th Doctor, as well as River Song.
Miis of opposite genders can also fall in love (occasionally with the last person you’d think of,) get married, (and have kids, if you turn the option on) after a strange and occasionally difficult mini-game in which you help the proposing Mii know when the one being proposed to is thinking about them. I still can’t get Hal to allow Anna (yes, again from Frozen) to finish her proposal. He thinks too fast for me to tap on the screen. Miis can also fall in love with someone they barely know, which can create some mildly amusing (and occasionally annoying) love triangles. I had Batman try to ask Catwoman to be his girlfriend, only to have Ryan (not anyone famous) decide he liked Catwoman too, (which made for a cutscene that reminded me of a bad romantic comedy. She turned both of them down.) The 11th Doctor then asked River to be his girlfriend a little later that day, at which point… Ryan shows up again, deciding that he liked River enough to interrupt. (She chose the Doctor.) I still have yet to influence Ryan into a relationship with someone that isn’t taken. He’s even tried to steal other guys girlfriends away. He has issues.
The game, while it may sound like it, doesn’t really allow you to dictate the course of the islander’s lives. You play more as a benevolent all-seeing ruler who gives advice, feeds and clothes, and solves problems (whether friendship, or boredom, or just them wanting you to look inside their head. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds.) The Miis have minds of their own, and will stubbornly refuse to be friends with someone or fall in love with them. You can influence, but not directly control their choices. That goes for food, clothing, and apartment interiors too. Batman might prefer hippie clothes to his trademark black, and his favorite food might be granola parfaits. Link might like living in a jail cell. You just never know. As you deal with problems and care for your little islanders, they’ll level up, allowing you to give them different things, including songs and a catchphrase.
The songs are used in the concert hall, in which you can pick one of eight or ten different music styles for a given islander to sing, granted that you’ve given them that song style as a gift during a level-up. You can even have groups once multiple islanders can sing the same style of song. I’ve got several groups singing different song styles. My personal favorites are the Musical, Techno, Pop, and Opera. The songs come with pre-written lyrics, but you can rewrite them if you wish.
One of the nice things about this game is that in the end, it’s not a huge time burner. You get on for fifteen, twenty minutes, solve some problems, feed some islanders, maybe watch a song or two, see if any events are going on, and then save and quit. It’s not like the Sims, where you can spend hours without accomplishing much of anything, or Animal Crossing, where you have to spend time talking to everyone to keep them from moving out (not to mention weeding.) If you don’t play for a couple weeks, the worst that happens is a few islanders might remark that they haven’t seen you around in awhile, meaning that you can put away Tomodachi Life for several weeks without fear of bad things happening. Nobody’s going to leave or starve or get depressed. It’s actually really nice.
In the end, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy this. I ended up liking it. If you want something a bit more cartoony and silly like Animal Crossing, but less depressing if you can’t play, and something less realistic than the Sims, you might enjoy this game. Especially now that the eShop has a demo version. There’s no profanity, and romance is kept to an incredibly low level. Miis don’t really do anything besides stare at each other with little hearts above their heads. Once married, (after three or four days usually,) they might ask if they can have a baby. Couple days later, they’ll call you up and say they had a baby, at which point you can specify boy or girl, personality, and name. You can disable babies if you find them irritating, or the thought creeps you out.
Overall, it’s cute, cartoony, and more than a bit weird. I recommend it for ages 8 and up, since the mini-games (which are pretty frequent – though you can choose not to play games with the islanders. Doesn’t matter one way or another, really,) can get frustrating at times.
Have fun gaming!
Tomodachi Life is for the 3DS. You can buy a physical copy at a retailer or a digital copy from the eShop.