There’s no two ways about it – nobody does ‘weird’ like the Japanese. Across all forms of pop culture, whether it is movies, anime, comics, advertisements, television or even their games, there’s a plethora of Japanese content that will leave you utterly bewildered and scratching your head. And when you come across a game that completely, unabashedly owns its Japanese-ness, you’re often in for an interesting time. Enter Tomodachi Life, a game that is a weird mixture of Animal Crossing, The Sims and various other parts of Japanese anime culture. When you get a blend like that, you might expect it to be ridiculous, hilarious and confusing, and Tomodachi Life delivers on all of those fronts. Your Miis, much like your characters in The Sims, need to eat, drink, have fun and do other things to keep themselves happy. These Miis are put into some fantastically weird minigames, and occasionally there’s a news broadcast that they conduct to let you know how their lives are going. This is a very novel idea if you haven’t played something like this before, but once the novelty wears off, you might find yourself less motivated to keep playing.
The Game Play:
While the novelty persists, Tomodachi Life is quite an interesting experience though. You have a virtual island that you can choose to fill with different characters. Some of you might choose to populate the island with your friends or colleagues, or let’s face it – your favorite Hollywood stars or rock idols. If you’ve fantasized about hanging out with your favorite celebrities in a weird Japanese world, here’s your chance. Using the Mii creation engine, you are able to create creepily similar versions of your friends and you can give them a voice set using the tools available in the game. While the voices sound mostly robotic, they tie in well to the overall nature of the game. You also give them personalities, likes and dislikes and other attributes that govern what they do during their days and what makes them happy or sad. The attributes you assign each of your Miis will automatically make them more or less compatible with the other avatars that live on your island.
The Good And The Bad:
Unfortunately, you can’t really design the island itself from the ground up. However, for less experienced players, this might be a good thing, since you already have a lot to worry about keeping your different Miis happy. As soon as they feel something is wrong with their environment, your Miis make sure you know. At various times, you might find them crying out for food, complaining about their clothes or the way they look, or even grumble about their homes. Luckily, you have a large number of stores and establishments to meet their needs. You can dress up your Miis in delightful and weird costumes like police uniforms or fire fighter costumes while taking them to shops that serve exotic food. Looking at your Miis faces grimace as you dress them up in the most outlandish costumes is a lot of fun. Who would’ve thought bright yellow pants and pink hats were out of fashion?
However, you need to make sure that you don’t tick your Miis off too much, since if their happiness rating drops too much, you’ll be getting less money from them. To lighten their mood, you can give them gifts or take them to the concert hall to sing really, really bad songs. Luckily, your Miis derive a lot of glee from singing cheesy lyrics and dancing around with their friends. As you’d expect, unhappy Miis don’t have the best relationships or productivity ratings. And a lot of the game revolves around developing and maintaining relationships, either simple friendships or those of the romantic kind.
If your Miis are happy, they walk around like someone from the 60s love era, declaring their affection for other people regularly and asking to make new friends. When they meet new people, you can guide their interactions to make sure they develop a good rapport, and once they’re friends, you can let them do their thing. Friendly Miis are often found chilling out at each other’s apartments or enjoying meals together. Interestingly enough, the game doesn’t allow your Miis to get romantic with someone of the same sex. The ones that are involved in heterosexual relationships however, propose to each other through an interesting game that makes your character spout mushy talk that needs to be timed with your partner’s inner monologues. There’s also a ranking system that displays which of your Miis are the happiest on the island and which of the ladies are most popular among the men.
When you’ve been courting another Mii long enough, you can eventually get married and have children. However, this is where the novelty of the game wears off. Other than getting Miis to hook up, have children and give each other gifts, there’s not a lot else to do. While the mini-games and the hilariously bad rap battles are worthy of a few laughs, they lose their charm eventually. A deeper relationship system and things to do for your Miis might have made the game more interesting. However, if you’re looking for something that is bizarre, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny and good for a few hours of mindless fun, give Tomodachi Life a try.
Tomadoachi Life Game Review Score: 6.5 Out of 10
Release Date: 2014
Genre: Life simulation
Console: Nintendo 3ds
Section: Video Game Reviews