Tomodachi Collection is more a toy than a game in that very special Nintendo way: your own mad little island full of Miis that you never knew you wanted but you suddenly find yourself unable to live without, and while it may be the five-year-old prequel to the upcoming English language Tomodachi Life, that doesn't mean the original Japanese DS game is short on bizarre events to keep you smiling, not to mention occasionally a little scared.
Your starting point is your island that can be filled full of shops, an expandable apartment block and a selection of other places and buildings. The shops are probably where you'll be spending the most time, scouring the shopkeeper’s wares for that perfect spacesuit to force an unliked Mii into or hunting for a demanding resident’s favourite dessert. There are room themes available to buy as well, ranging from the sensible-but-impractical gym to one that makes it look like your Mii lives in an infinite rainy fog.
Once you've finished tending to the desires of your little community (for the moment, that is) it’s a good idea to go and check in on some of your other residents and find out what they're up to – some will be asleep, others will be chatting with other Miis and in one instance we discovered one female Mii in a classy kimono trying to teach herself to wink in a slightly alarming manner.
Should playing cards or watching your Miis enthusiastically headbang while performing rock music (or rap and J-Pop) somehow grow tiresome, Nintendo is on hand to provide more Mii entertainment around the island, including a daily schedule of time-sensitive events by the fountain that include musical performances for you to clap at and the frankly painful “Let’s Speak English!” sessions that render English words and phrases via Japanese pronunciation filtered through the Mii’s computer-generated auto speech programming. Other activities include the ability to find answers to life’s most important questions: Curry or ramen? Glasses or contacts? Mountains or the sea? Fear not, for your Miis will be happy to let you know which choice is more popular and help ensure you never make another social faux pas again. Perhaps you've always wondered what sort of job a particular Mii would be best at? There’s a place you can find the answer to that question too, with your chosen Mii’s face crudely pasted onto a picture of anything from a stuntman to a traditional craftsman.
As mentioned at the very beginning of this feature, Tomodachi Collection isn't really a game at all in the traditional sense; it’s more of a bizarre but strangely endearing Mii theme park. It’s easy to be sceptical of "non-games" because they're so easy to get wrong, but Nintendo knew exactly how to pitch Tomodachi Collection and the end result is as fun as it is strange. It's a shame that we never got to experience a localised version of this DS original, but at least Nintendo is making up for it with the forthcoming 3DS sequel. Tomodachi Life adds holidays, babies and many more new items and events to the mix, and we're sure it’s going to be a hit with both new and old Nintendo fans as soon as the English version hits the shelves.