(Rated E for Everyone)
If you liked:
Animal Crossing, The Sims, Harvest Moon, basically any life simulator game
You run an island! That's...basically it. SO GO BUY IT!
Fill your island with people that you (or your friends) create, interact with them, watch them do hilarious stuff, and help them make important (and sometimes totally insignificant, but still funny) decisions in their daily lives! Help them get married (or not), have kids (or not), go on adventures/vacations, and play games with them. Or if you're a sadist, just watch them sulk in their own pathetic misery after they confess their love to a peer, get rejected, then vow to try again, only to get STOOD UP WHICH CAUSES THEM TO SPIRAL INTO A TERRIBLE DEPRESSION!!
Much like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you start the game by naming your island. I chose to name mine "Bentario Island", because I'm unoriginal and full of myself. Instead of following the actions of one person, however, you are more of an overall observer of the entire island.
Anyone who has played a Wii, Wii U, or 3DS probably knows about the Wii Mii characters that can be used in games like Wii Sports. In this game, those Miis become the inhabitants of your island. Personally, since the first time I played the Wii, I've wanted them to give the Miis their own game. I mean why let you make your own little digital version of you if you can't use it for more than just the pre-packaged game?! But I digress...
While you don't actually move your character around and control their every move a la The Sims, you do have a large amount of sway over what your Miis do on the island. The Miis can hang out at the beach, carnival, coffee shop, park, (and many other locations unlocked by creating more Miis to fill your island, and by helping your Miis with their problems), perform concerts alone or together (and even give them different lyrics to sing), play games with you, go on vacations, fall in love, even get married and have little Mii babies! (Sidenote...DO NOT LET THEM HAVE BABIES!!) If you have friends who also have the game, you can scan/import them into your game without having to re-make them yourself. There is also a pre-built list of Tomodachi characters based on celebrities available for download right here!
Peanut Butter Gamer, a video game reviewer on YouTube I greatly enjoy, shared the code that users could scan to place the Mii he made of himself into their islands (bottom right corner) . Even with my personally created islanders, his has been the most hilarious to watch as he explores the island, searching desperately for companionship. (click his name above to watch his review of Tomodachi Life)
When you create your first Mii, the game suggests you to make it look like you. I highly suggest this, as after you make them, everyone on the island then refers to you (the player) as "[your name]'s look-alike." (e.g. everyone calls me Ben's look-alike) But before we go on, I wanted to introduce you to just a few of my islanders.
Ben: My me Mii. The Mii of me...who is me. Not the Mii me, that's he. Just me as a Mii me. (okay I'll stop) He's a go-getting dreamer, according to the game's personality chart. (I should mention now, based on the small amount of choices you make, the personality they give your Miis is scary accurate!)
Annie V: I bought the game the day before my 1 year wedding anniversary, so I created Annie Versary, or as her friends call her, Annie V. Fun fact, her voice is eerily high pitched...
Mario and Luigi: Because why not?
Other Miis include: PBG (Peanut Butter Gamer), Pidgey (my pet bird, in Mii form), Lucy (my sister-in-law's cat in Mii form), Mara (my wife), Guy Manly (a cliche'd manly man) and Lady Woman (your basic feminine woman).
As far as I've been able to see, there is no limit to how many you can make. As you fill out the apartment building, it expands to accommodate more Miis.
Unlike other world management / life simulation games that are topping their respective sales charts, Tomodachi Life adds something that definitely stands out for me: customized voices for each character that actually speak in English instead of some made-up language. They sound very cartoony, but it really adds to the charm.
When I first got my 2DS, I purchased Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and was very excited to manage my city. Just as a brief sidenote, AC: NL puts you in charge of being the mayor of a town of cartoonish animals, assisting their needs, and building up the town, all in real-time. The biggest killer of that game to me was that it tried too hard to be a "real" town, veering away from a fun video game, and more towards tedious work. Between paying off your home loan, and doing menial jobs for your feeble-minded townsfolk, and even being punished for going an extended period of time without playing the game, it really made it hard to want to go back. That said, this is where Tomodachi Life differs greatly. The game does pass in real time, just like Animal Crossing, offering a lot of different events at various times of the day. But in this case, it is less about feeling guilty for not playing, and more about letting your people live their lives, and interacting with them in between. I have yet to find myself saying, "Ugh, the townsfolk will be mad at me, because I haven't played in a while since I've been busy." After a little over a week of not playing, I picked the game back up, and the worst that happened was a character saying "Hi, Ben's look-alike! I haven't seen you for a while."
From the release of the first trailer, I adored the humor. From the goofy and bizarre lyrics of the songs they sing, to a group of Miis holding a "pity party" at the local cafe for a down-on-his-luck friend, (PBG asked Annie V out, but she was already dating Guy Manly. It was heartbreaking for PBG, who apparently has a taste for women who are always already taken) it is always hysterical. Whether the Miis are awake or asleep, there is always something to do to interact with them. And even just watching them play or spend time together is a treat in and of itself! I found myself just watching Ben and Mara play Wii U in Annie V's apartment for a few minutes, just because their interactions are so fun to watch.
|You can draw on their faces while they're asleep...hehehe...|
While that description may sound like the game is just one big soap opera, it definitely is not. Tomodachi Life can hit home with guys and gals of all ages! Because the game is based heavily around sharing content with other users, there are safeguards from being able to put in any dirty words/phrases etc. but unless you're a total perv-ball with nothing but a disgusting sense of humor, it won't affect your play even slightly. And if you are, this isn't your game.
I could go on and on and on with all the completely insane things that happen while playing this game, but I really wouldn't want to spoil the fun. A very cool feature added is the ability to take screenshots of both the top and bottom screen at any time with the press of a button. The controls are so simple that you can play the entire game with nothing but your touch screen, allowing the X and Y buttons to be used solely for taking screenshots. If you think you wouldn't use it, you'd be very wrong. I probably have well over 100 screenshots saved on my device because I wanted to be able to share everything I was seeing, but I'm still not going to, because it's all just too funny to give away! (Who knows, maybe I'll do a follow-up article with pictures...)
Since I like to push myself to be fair, here's what I was able to muster in the realm of complaints:
To be honest, the game doesn't have an enormous long-lasting appeal akin to console/PC epics such as The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and Grand Theft Auto V, or even other Nintendo 3DS games like Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. What you get with this game is more similar to the experience shared with a Tomogachi or Digimon from the mid-90's. It's the kind of game you put down after a few weeks, then pick back up a month or two later because there's nothing good on TV, and you remember how charming it is. I guess what I'm saying here is not to expect 100+ hours of content here.
All said, if you have a Nintendo 3DS/2DS and a sense of humor that embraces crazy, pick up a copy. The hilarity is perfect for kids and adults. To be honest, I guess I wish that this game had come out on iPad/Android instead of a system that not many adults probably own, so a broader audience could experience it.
7.5 out of 10
The humor is wonderful, the gameplay packs a lot in, every time you turn on your system to play you'll experience something new. Not intended for the hardcore, but casual gamers will love it for a change of pace.