News Article

First Impressions: Tomodachi Life

Posted by Damien McFerran

Life is what you make it

Since the surprise announcement that Tomodachi Life is coming to the West on 6th June, gamers have been trying to figure out exactly the game is all about. Given that it's a Nintendo project, comparisons to Animal Crossing have been bandied about, while others have confidently placed the game in the same basket as EA's Sims franchise.

The truth is, while Tomodachi Life has elements which are featured strongly in both of those titles, it is very much its own beast — and is a game that has to be experienced first hand for it to really make any sense. As Nintendo of America's Bill Trinen has already stated, Tomodachi Life isn't really a game at all, nor is it your basic life simulation. It's almost a product which defies accurate description, yet since we've had our hands on it, we've played little else in the Nintendo Life office. Something here obviously works.

The first thing you'll do in the game is load up a Mii which serves as your presence in Tomodachi Life. However, in a neat case of breaking the fourth wall, this character isn't actually you, but an independently functioning clone — it still operates like any other character in the game, and even refers to you as "my lookalike" when addressing you. You're essentially an omnipotent overseer, and aside from your doppelganger have no physical representation within the game itself.

You can import characters into the game from your Mii Maker, but you'll need to fill in additional data fields to make them a full Tomodachi Life resident. You need to decide how swift their actions are, how direct they might be when talking to others, and so on. You also need to give them a voice by either selecting from some preset options or tinkering with elements such as tone, pitch and accent. We're playing the European version of the game in English, which means that all characters speak with British accents, but other language options are available and the North American edition will feature American accents. The voices are intentionally robotic, and can make the most innocent of sentences sound side-splittingly funny.

Created characters swiftly move into the game and start to make demands. These are fairly basic to begin with — the desire to eat or play mini-games for entertainment — but they quickly escalate to new clothing, taking a bath and companionship. Relationships quickly develop between each of the Miis, with many buddying-up for late-night chats; the game does follow the day/night cycle along with the real-world time, but isn't prohibitive in terms of accessing all that the island offers. Male and female characters can potentially take this to another level by becoming a couple and eventually having children, although there is the option to switch off procreation if you so wish. On a side note, it's possible to specify your clone's relationship with other characters — for example, should you add a family member of the opposite sex to the game, you can make sure no illicit relations occur by clearly marking them as such.

The ultimate goal of Tomodachi Life is to ensure that your Miis are as happy as possible. Giving them food they like, playing with them and exchanging gifts fills up their level bar, and when they progress to a new level you can give them a special item, a new room design, a catchphrase to utter, a song to sing or just some spending money. These rewards — combined with the money you gain from each successful encounter — are your incentive to keep your Miis contented, but you're by no means obligated to do so; sometimes, it's just as much fun to watch them suffer. Fights can break out between certain characters and these will persist until you step in and smooth things over, and characters which are left hungry and alone in unfurnished apartments can often be seen sat on the floor, staring absently-mindedly into space. If you get a kick out of being cruel to virtual people, then Tomodachi Life has you covered.

The more Miis you have the more potential cash there is to earn through pandering to their needs and desires, and thankfully adding new characters is a breeze. Other Tomodachi Life players can send you their Mii either via a local wireless connection or a special QR code, but it's possible to use a standard Mii QR code — generated by a Wii, Wii U or 3DS — to populate your island paradise. You can also import any Mii you've previously met via StreetPass by copying them across to the 3DS Mii Maker from StreetPass Plaza. The bottom line is that it's very easy to add in new people, even if you don't want to invest the time in creating them within the game itself.

The island is dotted with different shops and locations which are opened as you fulfil certain criteria, such as a attaining a set number of inhabitants or solving a particular number of problems. You'll find that most of these are relatively easy to unlock, while others take a little more effort. Access to the entire island can be gained in a short space of time, but certain locations offer more content over time — for example, the various stores are periodically restocked with new items for you to purchase.

As you'll no doubt have noticed from the Tomodachi Life Nintendo Direct, a large part of the game's appeal is its offbeat humour. The dialogue in the game is fantastic, laced with stand-out one-liners and plenty of comments which are sure to raise a smile. There are various moments where the game charges headlong into totally bizarre territory — for example, it's possible to peek into the dreams of your slumbering Miis and the results often border on the downright disturbing. Characters will picture themselves as anything from a dangling skeleton key ring to a troubled soul permanently tormented by ninjas. Discovering all of the various dreams is naturally part of the challenge, and the variety on show is mind-boggling — but then this is from the same developers who cooked up the WarioWare franchise, so we probably shouldn't be all that surprised.

However, while the game provides plenty of incentive to have a good chuckle, a lot of the humour comes from the characters you've created yourself. The fact that it's your friends and family which are engaging in these often ridiculous pursuits adds a whole new layer of amusement, and placing these familiar individuals in the same environment as custom-made Miis for famous pop stars, actors or historical names only amplifies this. As a result, it's not too much of an exaggeration to say that every player's experience with Tomodachi Life will be wholly unique to them; so much of the game's allure is tied to the people you put into it, how you interact with those people and how you view them in the real world. Seeing a grumpy family member play on the Wii U with Reggie or witnessing love blossom between two friends who in reality don't care very much for one another lends the game an entirely new dimension.

Nintendo is keenly aware that social connectivity played a massive role in the success of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and has wisely incorporated the same screenshot tool into Tomodachi Life. Pressing X or Y will snap the top and bottom screens respectively, and you can quickly share these images to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr by tapping the Nintendo 3DS Image Share option on the island menu. It's not as streamlined a process as we'd like — you're dumped into the 3DS web browser in order to post the image — but it is sure to be a popular way of sharing your progress with friends and other players. In fact, it could well be the vital ingredient which transforms the game into a social media phenomenon, just like stable mate Animal Crossing.

In fact, from what we've seen, Tomodachi Life has the potential to eclipse even New Leaf when it comes to ensnaring a mainstream audience. New Leaf was accessible but could also be quite obtuse, with lots of hidden items, secrets and time-specific content that was seen by only the truly dedicated. It required a massive investment of time on behalf of the player — not a bad thing, naturally — but Tomodachi Life doesn't make the same demands. It is a game which can be picked up in short bursts, or can be allowed to happily swallow hours of your time almost without you being aware of it. It may not be the hardcore experience seasoned Nintendo fans are holding out for and there will be more than a few veteran gamers shaking their heads in dismay at such casual-focused software, but when a game is as charming, amusing and downright addictive as this, it's genuinely difficult to come away without a broad, Cheshire Cat-style grin across your face.

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User Comments (97)



Spleetal said:

I'm super hyped for this game! I've been making and scanning mii's so I have some more to use in game!



Hunter-D said:

Still haven't watch the Direct, but reading this has really impressed me.



mostro328 said:

Sounds great i might pick this up my daughters and i enjoy Animal crossing and i just got them the new Disney game DVD theyare glued



mystman12 said:

Oohhhhhhh, the same people that make WarioWare made this? Well that explains everything!



AdanVC said:

Wario Ware creators made this as well?? SOLD. I honestly think this game looks funnier than Animal Crossing New Leaf. I can imagine the amount of screenshots of those random/wacky moments on sites like tumblr and twitter. It's going to be so much fun!



Kohaku said:

Does Nintendo know they have a console also? Why games like these not also for the Wii U?



Geonjaha said:

Sounds akin to Scribblenauts in the sense that it sounds and is very fun at first, then quickly becomes very repetitive and boring. Considering its a full retail price title I think I'll pass.



Anguspuss said:

I always wanted to like the animal crossing games but just couldnt get into them but this with the miis & anyone else you can throw in just sounds to much bizzare fun it has to be a day 1 buy.
Hopefully Nintendo footy can keep me going till it comes out.

PS the Nintendo direct presentation of the game was just pure Nintendo Class. Despite all the flak this is what makes the big N.



unrandomsam said:

@BriBri This is a dilemma then - Think I prefer Urban Champion or pretty much anything else to Animal Crossing or the Sims but I really like Warioware.



User1988 said:

I'm definitely getting this one and possibly buying it for my cousin, who loves Animal Crossing and more "casual" 3DS games. It will be so much fun to swap screen shots with her of our Mii's doing crazy stuff!



Jaz007 said:

I was interested, but the fact that you can't personally controll your in-game representation destroys that interest. I wish they at least gave you the option to controll him.



Bizzyb said:

Oh man, talk about a game coming out of left field! I'm soo getting this game



Bizzyb said:

@Jaz007 well you more or less influence them. Its thst random element of what will happen next that's the draw.



erv said:

1080p! 60fps! Polygons! Ultra hd! Brown and grey! Walk like a truck! Killcam! Weapon management physics! Realistic! Physics!

Oh wait. This actually looks like fun.



Jaz007 said:

@Bizzyb I want to be able to controll who my Mii likes and hates, who his crush is though. I still want the random element, it's that I like having control over that one person (me) a lot. I really don't want to be telling at my own character for having a crush on a ugly Mii lol.



luke88 said:

@Hunter-D oh you should watch it, I wasn't in the east excited for the game but after watching the direct I certainly was. Haven't see the American one but loved the European.



BakaKnight said:

I don't know why, but my interest in this game started from "couldn't care less" and it's rapidly raising to "must have" as I hear more and more about it >_>;



Senario said:

This game makes me laugh. Thus I will get it. Also, I will make my mii have his own harem bwahahahahaha!!! Muwagahahaha! Lol it probably won't work. I'll get bored eventually and put more people in the game.



MikeLove said:


It looks kind of interesting, but I agree with you. It seems like you will spemd most of your time 'watching' the game and not playing it.



astros75 said:

Well it looks like I'm sold. This game was not even on my radar a week ago lol



Bizzyb said:

@Jaz007 Perhaps we do have influence on certain situations like that. I hope so as well bc dammit I wanna marry Samus! Lol



yokokazuo said:

@luke88 the NA one is pretty much the same, but instead of Shibata, it is Bill Trinen and there are a few other small differences.



SkywardLink98 said:

The voices may very well be a deal breaker for me. I don't care if it's intentional, it bugs the crap out of me and is my only problem with the game. It would be an insta-buy any other way.
EDIT: And America is waaay to big an area to say "American accents" as there are a million different accents in America and everyone makes fun of each other over it. If I'm stuck sounding like the people I make fun of, that will also be a deal breaker.



Lance168 said:

Did anyone watch the did you know gaming for Pikmin/animal crossing(not sure which one)?Didn't it mention that the original idea for Pikmin was that you had a godlike role effecting two peoples roles in life? Isn't that a bit like Tomadachi Life?



ueI said:

This does look good, but I don't think I use the Mii Maker enough to justify a purchase.



ledreppe said:

I'll be too busy with Mario Kart 8 when this comes out, but hopefully I'll get it when the price drops.



Damo said:

@ueI You can just import Miis from StreetPass Mii Plaza, or get friends to send you their QR codes. I haven't had to create a single Mii from scratch yet.



MikeLove said:

But can you move you character around and stuff, or is it like you feed them or give them an item, and then just sit back and watch them walk around and do things?



Dizzard said:

This game really intrigues me and the direct was completely bonkers.

Do we know how much it will cost? €44 -€49 seems like an awful lot to pay for a game you're just watching most of the time.

If it was being sold for €30 or under I think I'd be more encouraged to go for it.



SphericalCrusher said:

The Nintendo Direct was hilarious, but I don't think this is a game for me. I will be hopeful for a demo, but very doubtful on buying this.



StarDust4Ever said:

While I am glad Nintendo decided to release this game, it is definitely not for me. I find life simulators boring since I view video games as a way of escaping the mundanes of life, not revisiting it. Go out and experience real life! That said, I'm sure this will be a hit with the casuals young and old alike. hopefully this sells well because we need more stuff to come over from the Land of the Rising sun.



Dizzard said:

As an Irish person I wonder if it'll be too jarring listening to Miis with British accents....

So much interests me about this game but at the same time so much makes me feel uncertain. It's odd.



NintyMan said:

So the people behind WarioWare made this game? That explains everything, and now I'm even more convinced I'll get this game ASAP. It looks and sounds like absolutely ridiculous fun. I like Miis and imported a ton of them into my Wii, 3DS, and Wii U, so that should make it interesting to say the least.



IronMan28 said:

After seeing the Direct for this, I became excited. It seems so zany, I don't think I'll be able to resist buying it.



Damo said:

@KennyPowers You can feed them, play games with them, give them gifts (including a 3DS and Wii U), decorate their apartment and influence their interactions with other Miis. Imagine doing all of this with a building packed with Miis, and it should become clear that you're rarely going to be left twiddling your thumbs.



AshFoxX said:

@SkywardLink98 Why is this a selling point? If you don't like the voices, 1, you can change them, and 2, you can turn down the volume.

And for those who still don't exactly understand, think of this game as a less demanding and more personal/fun version of a digipet/gigapet/tamogatchi except instead of animals or monsters it's your friends and family, and you don't have to clean up their poops. Honestly, the best way to understand it is to try it yourself.

It would be smart for Nintendo to make a demo for this since so it's very hard to explain exactly what it is, but given the content that could be a tricky sell



HandheldGuru97 said:

Sounds like this will be right up my alley. Love how it looks sounds and from videos I've seen plays. Glad to see that you guys are liking it!!!!!!! So now for a few simple questions, what's your favorite thing about the game???? And what is your least favorite aspect of the game??? Just curious to see how it's playing out.



SkywardLink98 said:

@Linkuini Yes, but I'm in the states, so that's how it affects me. It's not like I'm gonna be bothered by people in Ireland playing with British accents (no offense).
@AshFoxX Horrible voice acting is a pretty big turn off for some people, and while many seem to be amused by the robot miis I just find them intolerable. Saying turn the sound off isn't a solution, that's just trying to ignore it.



Klunk23 said:

@SkywardLink98 I think the article basically means the most basic American accent. If you wanted to tie it to a certain area kind of like like what's spoken in the Midwest.



King_wyatt said:

im woundering if can miis die? and what do the kids look like in the case of would they look like the parent of the same gender but have eye and hair color of the opst gender



Damo said:

@Brickbuild101 No, but you can import your Mii from your Wii to a console that does, or simply copy it across to your Wii U via system transfer and then share it locally.



JaxonH said:


When they say "American accent", they mean a neutral American accent. Not the deep southern accent or the far northern accent, not the New Jersey accent, New York accent or any other "out of the ordinary" accent. Usually the type of accent you'd hear from a news anchor on a national news station. They try to pick anchors that have as neutral an accent as possible so as to not alienate anyone. Think midwest. That's traditionally the standard American accent.



Windy said:

I can't wait for this I'm throwing all my Friends from my Friends list into the game. BTW I gotta throw this out there.I've been playing Disneys Magical world and for those older gamers shaking there heads that the game is for kids. well It has plenty offer for older gamers too. I'm 48 years old and loving the game and the online connectivity is pretty cool. it could have been better but its still a blast with what they did. Don't let the kiddie looks fool you Disneys Magical Kingdom is a very cool open world RPG. it may even be the best open world RPG on the 3ds.



Twilight_Crow said:

Funny stuff, is gonna be interesting to see what people will post. Sill, the game itself... I pass.



mullen said:

Hi, @Damo, thank you for this preview. Since I've played the Japanese version, I noticed that there is a plane on the sea next to the dock which is new for western version. Could you tell me what's that facility? Is that the image sharing tool (since I don't think Japanese version has such built-in tool)?



Windy said:

@Pichubby its straight up an RPG the townspeople and the characters give you quests to retrieve items from various dungeons. its an action RPG real time and open world. it also has some animal Crossing with a bit of Harvest moon, together that blend is just awesome



mystman12 said:

@Damo I thought, at least in the Japanese version, the StreetPass was this thing where you could send one of your kids on a trip, and he would then get passed along from 3DS to 3DS, and occasionally send you a post card via Wi-Fi telling about where he is.



AkinaChan said:

Lol, I love all the crazy visuals in this game Especially in the dream sequences :3 I was up last night making a bunch of Miis for this I already made the whole cast of Free Iwatobi Swim Club (^^)



mullen said:

@mystman12 That's the main function of the streetpass in Japanese version. However, since I live in US, I am really pissed off by this function as all my kids eventually "dead", I mean, streetpassed with someone who may not play this game anymore or couldn't streetpass my kid to a 3rd 3DS or turned of the spotpass function. Thus my kid would be in his/her 3DS forever and not send me any postcard or visit back or update travel information.
So if western versions keep the same manner, I really hope that everyone takes care of others' kids by regularly check and clear streetpass tags and enable the spotpass function of this game.
Btw, another function of the streetpass is to import goods from another islands, including cloths, hats, or even treasures, which are unavailable through regular play.



mullen said:

@Klunk23 The upper limit is 100, as each Mii needs one room in the Mansion, and there are at most 100 rooms (it starts with 24 rooms, and you will eventually get more rooms as more Miis move in).



mystman12 said:

@mullen Okay, thanks! That sounds really cool too me... But I definitely see how easy it could be for someone to become trapped. BUT, just imagine if someone got trapped for like a year, then one day you start the game and he's back, and you get an amazing family reunion!



Dreamcaster-X said:

I skipped Animal Crossing because of the time investment but this sounds like it could be the perfect alternate to it!!



c1pher_c0mplet said:

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is phenomenal. It's just that I hate being forced to log in daily to make sure my favorite 2 residents don't leave. (Wish there was an option to ticker favorite residents to stay, similar to how you can ticker your favorite StreetPass houses in the HHA.) Tomodachi's a first-day buy for me (or preorder if I remember to do so).



DinoFett said:

From what I've seen on You-Tube this Life-simulator will make Mii-Plaza look like a 'Flash Game'. Love Mii Plaza but now there is something better.



Klunk23 said:

@mullen Ahh. Cool. Thanks. That's even more than I thought it would be. There is definitely no doubt I'll be getting this game now.



DadOfFour1972 said:

Well wasn't sure at first but the more I read about it........
Love AC New Leaf and just downloaded Harvest Moon: A New Beginning from the eShop. I never ever used to play games like these and now look at me



Kirk said:

Well to be honest; this looks a bit fugly and meh imo...

However; the fact this game is from the same guys who created Wario Ware is what has me interested but I'm still totally confused as to what exactly the hell it is...



andreoni79 said:

So the same Mii lives different lives in different consoles, right? It's not like visiting other cities like in Animal Crossing...

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