Tomodachi Life Review: Eating, sleeping, friendships, love, and centaurs
I’m uncertain if history’s greatest minds could analyze Tomodachi Life and return a proper thesis upon what they’ve learned. How do I know this? Well, because, some of the world’s greatest minds actually live within my Tomodachi Life island, and as Andrew’s Look-alike, I can promise you they don’t know what the hell is going on. Hell, some found friendship, other their all-time favorite food, and some even discovered the love of their lives on my bizarre little island.
The best way to understand just what the Japanese word Tomodachi means is to translate it. Quite simply, it means “friend.” So in a game called ‘Friend Life,’ it’s just that. You have an island where you are an imageless omnipresent being that helps your ‘friends’ with their ‘lives.’ There's an apartment complex that you fill up with literally whoever you want – it’s 100% up to you. How these characters interact is nearly all random and almost always hilarious.
Who did I put in my island? Well, I wanted a balance of real, fake, sports, historical, gaming, celebrity, and animated. Characters which fall into these categories include myself, all of the GameZone staff, other friends, Abraham Lincoln, Asuka Langley, Conan O’Brian, Edgar Allen Poe, Eva Green, Gendo Ikari, Karen Gillan, Larry Bird, Mahatma Gandi, Mikasa Akerman, Princess Daisy, Samus Aran, and Tessa Virtue. They are just the tip of the iceberg.
While your island may have an even more random assortment of characters dwelling within, the word “random” doesn’t come close to doing this title justice. If you’re familiar with Nintendo designers, Tomodachi Life was produced by Yoshio Sakamoto. To give you a taste of his past works, he worked on the WarioWare and Rhythm Heaven titles, which I would argue are some of the more random titles Nintendo's made. When talking about Yoshio Sakamoto works, it would be insulting not to mention all of the Metroid titles including the original Metroid (1986), Super Metroid (1994), Metroid: Other M (2010), and the Primes.
You can bring up to 100 Miis into the game. Once they're there, you solve their problems, buy them stuff, track down lost items, play games, form bonds, create relationships, and sometimes even marry. Through leveling up, you can give your residents songs which can be performed in the concert hall as a group or solo act. There are preset songs that you can completely change the lyrics to. You can also watch their dreams, which vary on entertaining, to bizarre, to absolutely terrifying – in a zany sort of way.
Your role in the game is that of a supervisor. You can’t control who does what or who the characters try to bond with. You do, however, control who you pamper and have the yes/no vote to friendships and relationships. So while you play a healthy dose of god, you aren’t truly omnipotent. While there are tons of activities and mini-games, Tomodachi Life is more of a check, do a few things, and set-it-down sort of a game than a play for X amount of hours straight sort of game. Especially at night, where there are periods when the majority of your characters are sleeping. Day and night cycles imitate your own time zone.
While I’ve been playing every day for just over a week now, I’m still experiencing events I’ve never seen yet. I haven’t had to opportunity to witness baby-making or visitors yet, so I can’t speak of those events. You’ll choose a StreetPass outfit that you can share with others that you can never change – so choose wisely.
That said, gameplay can get VERY repetitive. The game says it the best with, “Do you ever feel like we always end up talking about the same things over and over?” There are only so many times you can play the same mini-games with little jumping Miis. Luckily, nothing is forced upon you, but if you’re playing the game you want to be playing the game.
My greatest entertainment from Tomodachi Life has come from the unexpected aspects – which are fairly common. Why did those two become friends over all the other characters? Why does she think those two would be a good couple? Why is X talking crap about Y in the café? Why has a herd of centaurs with Mii faces on them been spotted? I’ll rarely laugh by myself if I’m alone, but there have definitely been numerous occasion this game snuck a chuckle out of me. Though repetitive, the possibilities remain endless.
Only in Tomodachi Life could Whoopie Goldberg be best friends with GameZone's Lance Liebl while being in a relationship with Mahatma Gandi. How else could my roommate ever be married to Amy Pond? Think of the possibility of Samuel L. Jackson and Abraham Lincoln being best friends. Are me and Eva Green starcrossed lovers? What sort of amazing crossover anime would invovle Asuka Langley and Mikasa Akerman be pretending to be airplanes in the same apartment? THIS is my Tomodachi Life – I honestly can’t even imagine what yours is like.
Do I recommend this game? Absolutely, it’s ridiculously entertaining. I want more and I’m by no means done yet. Take it in strides and you’ll be happy. As long as you understand it’s freakin weird and that’s the best part about it, you’ll be golden.
Gah! - No way!
Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ