Monday, 7 July 2014

Tomodachi Life

You know, Nintendo sometimes have no clue about what their fanbase really wants. This is most apparent when it comes to the whole Mother 3 controversy. For those of you who don't know, Mother 3 is the third entry in the Nintendo RPG series Mother, which is know as Earthbound outside of Japan. The series was a cult classic worldwide, and to this day there are a number of websites dedicated to it. Though Mother 3 was released in Japan in 2006, it was never localised for a Western audience, despite their being a HUGE demand for it. But us fans weren't left out in the cold for too long as a fan translation quickly cropped up. Still, it wasn't official, and Nintendo ended up not giving the fans what they wanted. That said, while Nintendo do screw up like this from time to time, other times they do have their finger on the pulse of their fanbase. As a 3DS user I want weird games like Mother 3. I want those games that made you think, “how did this even make it outside of Japan!?”. Thankfully Nintendo have, with the exception of Mother 3, always catered to these weird, bizarre and WTF needs of ours. Tomodachi Life is proof of this. Hilarious, weird, WTF worthy, almost David Lynch-like proof.

Developed by Nintendo SPD Group 1 and out now on Nintendo 3DS comes Tomodachi Life, a game that plays like a mash-up of The Sims and Animal Crossing, with a healthy dash of weirdness just for good measure. Tomodachi Life is set on an island inhabitant solely by Miis; Nintendo avatars first introduced on the Wii. Before getting into the gameplay, you'll first need to create your Mii, which is surprisingly in-depth. From importing one directly from the 3DS Mii Maker to using the in-game Mii creation tools, by utilising the basic options at hand you'll be able to nicely recreate your own likeness, or anyone else's for that matter. You can assign a voice to your Mii, which comes in the form of a robotic sounding synthesiser voice, something that comes across as either completely hilarious or soul crushingly terrifying. Everything from pitch, tone, accent and speed can be re-jigged, so there are endless possibilities in the vocals department for your Mii. From toying with the various customisation available, your Mii will be generated a unique attitude and personality.

Once your Mii has moved into their apartment, much of their life is out of your hands. On their own a Mii can spark up relationships with other Miis you've created, find a job and enjoy entertainment. At first you'll need to not only feed and cloth your Mii, but in doing so you'll ultimately find out what your Mii truly likes in life. Each Mii is unique, so while some Miis will be happy with wearing jeans and eating apples, other Miis will want to wear suits and eat steak (posh Miis, I know!). Through fulfilling a Mii's desires they will in turn give you money, money that you can use to buy more clothes and food. It's a cycle that works wonderfully well if you inhabit Tomodachi Life's apartment block with loads of Miis. If you do this, through keeping all you Miis happy, you'll almost begin to form a simple self-sustaining economy within the game.

Your Miis will also want to play various games with you, which are generally simple mini-games. They're not particularly enjoyable and are far too easy, but in doing this you will level up. Each time you level up you're able to teach your Mii a song, phrase, give them a gift or change the interior of their apartment. Each option goes a long way to keeping your Mii happy, and thereby sustaining the economy within the game itself. 

The brilliance of Tomodachi Life is how your unique Mii will react and interact with the world before them. From sparking up relationships, taking part in a Rap Battle with other Miis to singing a song you've written for them, Tomodachi Life is a wonderfully reactive if sometimes tedious experience. Also, as mentioned before, the WTF-ness of Tomodachi Life becomes apparent when you're able to view your Mii's dreams. From a Mii dreaming that they're a cake having a conversation with a cup of tea, another opening their window to reveal you (through the magic of the 3DS camera!) gazing at them, to a surprised Mii's face floating off their head, above the island, out of the Earth and into space, Tomodachi Life can be weird, man.

Though the mini-games can be quite boring and you'll often find yourself doing the same tasks again and again, Tomodachi Life is a worthy time sink. It may not be as personal and intriguing as the Animal Crossing series, but it's one of those games that feels like it's still living on, and that your Miis are having a life of their own when you're not even playing it. 

Tomodachi Life is weird and wonderful and gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

Tomodachi Life at CeX

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