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Talking Point: Just How Similar Are Tomodachi Life And Animal Crossing?

Posted by Katy Ellis

Comparisons can both hinder and help, so allow us to educate

Since its announcement for release in the West, many commentators within the video games industry have drawn comparisons between the quirky upcoming Tomodachi Life and the beloved Animal Crossing series. In many ways it's an obvious link to make, as both titles put you in charge of a small island, your only task being to improve the overall welfare of its inhabitants, with no overarching story to guide your day-to-day affairs. Yet, despite these broad similarities, Tomodachi Life is in many ways a completely different breed of animal altogether, and we're going to briefly summarize why.


First things first, who exactly are these islanders which populate your shores? In Tomodachi Life you possess complete control over who lives in your island, down to sculpting each wrinkle and overly large nose with the Mii Maker or simply scanning in a QR code if you have a few suitable Miis on standby. This means you can fill your island’s apartment up with a menagerie of characters, from Mii iterations of yourself and your family, to video game heroes, pop stars and movie icons – making it’s completely normal for your apartment to be filled with Link, Britney Spears and the cast of Game of Thrones. Before moving your chosen Mii into their new living space you can also alter their personality and give them a strange voice to match. Animal Crossing on the other hand does not provide you with creative control over your own character’s looks (that is unless you learn the question/answer combinations), and instead populates your town with an array of critters who come and go at their own leisure.


While Animal Crossing townsfolk might gossip about who Joey the duck’s latest crush is, Tomodachi Life actually brings these odd romances to reality, with Miis going on dates with their ‘special someone’ and eventually getting married. Your Miis in Tomodachi Life can even have children. Affections for other Miis form for the most part on their own, as the player you can approve (or disapprove) of certain relationships and steer Miis towards or away from one another. However, with love always comes jealousy, as it’s completely normal for two Miis to fancy another, causing an awkward love-triangle on your island. You can comfort your Mii and tell them it was never meant to be, but that still won't stop them from sulking in their room for a day or two. Arguments are another common occurrence in Tomodachi Life, as Miis aren't as forgiving as your animal townsfolk who still smile sweetly at you even after you bash them repeatedly with a shovel. It’s up to you whether you order your Miis to make amends or simply fuel the fire, but whatever you do it’s going to make for an interesting viewing.

Island Life

As any long-serving Animal Crossing fans will know, running and expanding a town is all about routine, hard work and bells. Lots and lots of bells. When you're not selling fruit like it’s going out of fashion, you'll probably be scouring the shoreline for prize-winning fish and netting those wonderful golden stag-beetles on Tortimer’s island. Money is equally important in Tomodachi Life, as soon after moving in your host of apartment-dwellers start demanding new outfits, special items and German delicacies for dinner. However, island life in Nintendo’s latest title isn't quite such hard work as your weed-infested animal town, with nearly every menu action in Tomodachi Life earning you cash. For example, if one of your Miis asks for fish and chips and you give it to them, this will earn you money, as will completing other small tasks.

Expect the Unexpected

As you might have gathered, Tomodachi Life is a rather strange game – and that’s in comparison to one in which a greedy raccoon steals all your money and a dog works as your office assistant. Tomodachi Life is all about random and unexpected occurrences and thrives on the free-will of its characters. Entering a Mii’s apartment can trigger odd mini-games such as tickling a Mii’s nose with a feather to make them sneeze or playing a quick game of snap. Some events in Tomodachi Life are slightly more scripted akin to Animal Crossing’s event and competition calendar, with markets taking place in the park at a certain time each day and rap battles occurring routinely by the wishing well. Like Animal Crossing you can also visit your neighbours in Tomodachi Life, so long as they're in and not busy frolicking down the beach. Tapping on their window and peering through will give you a glimpse of what your Miis get up to when they think no-one is watching – and it’s usually rather odd stuff. We once spotted Iwata rolling like a log around his room and pretending to be an airplane.

Online Functionality

One of Animal Crossing’s greatest features was its ability to let you visit your friends’ towns, steal all their fruit, run through their glorious flower beds and generally go on a rampage. Or, you know, just call on them politely. As Tomodachi Life’s island is constructed by an overview maps and various menus, it’s not possible for other players to simply pop into your town to eat some sauerkraut. Instead, Tomodachi Life uses the Nintendo 3DS’ StreetPass functionality to let random bypassers camp on your island and trade special island-exclusive import/export goods with you. Once the first travelers set foot on your island a new store will open which only sells and displays clothing gained via StreetPass, so make sure to check here regularly to get the latest ‘exotic’ designs.

Tomodachi Life launches on the Nintendo 3DS tomorrow in the US, UK and EU.

From the web

Game Screenshots

User Comments (26)



M0rdresh said:

It's been awhile since I've been hyped, look forward to my pre-order copy tomorrow.



Miss_Dark said:

not interested, this game seems to lack everything that makes animal crossing such a unique experience



Nik-Davies said:

Arkham Knight is delayed. I'm no longer saving up for a PS4. Have £200. Going into town tomorrow.

Tomodachi Life, it looks like you're getting bought

It's just dawned on me that I haven't bought a 3DS game since A Link Between Worlds



NintyMan said:

After reading this, it doesn't sound like Tomodachi Life has any serious similarities with Animal Crossing. And if there are, they must be very minor.

I'll be getting this game very soon. It sounds like a lot of crazy fun and since I like Miis, this seems to use them brilliantly. I can't wait to read the review!



Gold said:

The crazy and insane Direct made me want Tomodachi Life. Hype died down tho, fast, with all the no same-sex stuff. I wish the hype was still here...



noctowl said:

Just from the trailers I don't understand the animal crossing comparisons. I kind of see this as a one and done kind of game as far as it getting localized goes.



bezerker99 said:

You'd better buy the physical cart so when the game gets boring in a few weeks at least you can sell it.



ariwl1 said:

I'm really tempted to give this a try. I've avoided Animal Crossing for fear I'd get lost in busy work, but T LIfe seems to be appealing to me.



RedBeanPorridge said:

was a bit worried and confused when people like ign started comparing it to animal crossing. I played the original on ds and I loved it, though I think it's nothing remotely similar to animal crossing in the slightest. I'd say it were more like The Sims meets Nintendogs with miis.



SkywardLink98 said:

Kate Ellis wrote:

One of Animal Crossing’s greatest features was its ability to let you visit your friends’ towns, steal all their fruit, run through their glorious flower beds and generally go on a rampage.

...I've decided never to let Katy Ellis come to my town in Animal Crossing...



Ren said:

I don't really get what it is but I kind of want it. sounds like the cool thing that should have probably been launched free with the original Wii after a couple years to get people back on; I mean really, the Miis were an amazing idea that everyone secretly hoped they would add options for in tons of games and release something just like this. Seems late now but then the 3DS has best of all worlds right now with the glut of other big stuff. Great times to be a gamer if you have some free time.



NoirUsernameHere said:

I'll be getting it. Not at launch, but some time around Chistmas or something, since MK8 drained my funds. xP



DadOfFour1972 said:

Really looking forward to a review! Very on the fence about this as am still losing hours a week to AC NL.



RainbowGazelle said:

My copy arrived today. It's tonnes of fun, and nothing like Animal Crossing. I would recommend it just for the ability to make your own songs, which is good enough to be its own eShop application. I can appreciate that it won't be to everyone's tastes, though.



Link506 said:

So tempting to pick up after reading this. But I know I'll never touch this game again after summer break.



Noonch said:

I have the demo and I think it stinks. I loved Animal Crossing, got addicted till I felt I'd accomplished all I could and got bored with it. They are very different. This is closer to a dumbed down version of The Sims in my opinion.



Kitsune_Rei said:

I enjoy Tomodachi Life more than Animal Crossing in a way because its just the core messing with stuff and relationships without the daily labor sort of stuff Animal Crossing had. Its just a fun quirky game that doesn't try to make anything feel like work. You poke around and watch things develop, and are rewarded with unexpected quirky interactions. Its like Animal Crossing in that you can't completely judge it from a day of play.
Also my friend got the demo and while he liked it, he said it was SUPER limited. So don't judge the game too much by its limitation.



Gold said:

@faint No, I still want that game tho. It just died down for most people because of the negativity surrounding the same-sex marriage thing.

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