Last Level Press

Review: Tomodachi Life

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

I’m not entirely sure how to describe Tomodachi Life. To say it’s like the Animal Crossing games ultimately seems like an unfair comparison, but to say it’s closer to those old Tamagotchi digital pets sells the game drastically short of what it is. Even saying it’s some strange “missing link” type of game between these two might not catch the essence of what this game is, but unfortunately that’s honestly the best way to explain it without simply saying it’s “unique,” because that alone means almost nothing to encompass everything. Needless to say, you probably have a decent idea of what to expect if you have any knowledge of how drastically different those comparisons are.

In short, Tomodachi Life is a game in which this is not weird.

Gettin’ the picture yet?

Visually, Tomodachi Life is much better than you might expect for a handheld game based around your Miis. You have the basic looks for your Miis, but you also have an option to customize them in hundreds of outfits ranging from outfits I could quite honestly find in my own closet to strange and exotic looking costumes. And your Miis aren’t the only ones that are customizable; their apartments can be decorated a certain way too. See, all the Miis live in a single apartment building on a tiny island, and that’s where the Animal Crossing comparison comes in, but while you have a lot of control over who is on your island, how they look, and how their apartments look, the island itself is a constant, and serves more as a hub for you to pick certain services or visit certain areas. While the details are astounding, seeing as how this is a Nintendo game made for a Nintendo console, it’s unfortunately not eye-popping.

Tell that to Captain Panic-Faint back there!

Perhaps it’s best to say this right now: the music is bland and forgettable. There’s really no track that is noteworthy, nothing that truly stands out. Not even the island theme really stands out. The only exceptions you might argue for are the songs that the Miis can sing at the concert hall, which you can alter the lyrics of to make them sing amusing or vulgar things that Nintendo wouldn’t even put in a T for Teen game (because let’s be fair, they’d only publish games that are rated M rather than make them), but even then the tunes are still generic and forgettable. The Miis can also talk aside from sing, and their voices sound more like Microsoft Sam or any text-to-audio software that’s old and possibly free. Conceivably, you can create thousands of different voices based on pitch, speed, even tone and accent, but if you’re like me you’ll probably stick to the ones that aren’t grating on your ears unless you want to make a Mii that you wish to torment… but that’s only if you’re a terrible person.

The controls are laughably easy. Except for the very few instances of using the gyroscope functions, the game is played entirely with the stylus and touchscreen. The only buttons that will see any possible significant use are the X and Y buttons because they are the buttons that allow you to take pictures anytime during gameplay: the X button takes a picture of the top screen while the Y button takes a picture of the bottom screen. As far as in-game mechanics, there’s not much to comment on. There aren’t any real glitches that I found, the mini-games that you can play with your Miis are simple and relatively quick like the kind you would find in the WarioWare series, and there’s really nothing that breaks the game either. The ability for Miis to get married and have children is certainly fun, and being able to send these grown-up children out as ambassadors of your island who travel from island to island via Street Pass is pretty cool, but like any Street Pass function it’s going to be promptly ignored outside of a crowded city or a convention where there will be other people with their 3DS on their person.


Much like the stereotype of island life, things are simple and easy-going. The money you get for helping islanders ultimately goes to feeding and clothing them, you get items that you can sell at the pawn shop to get more money if needed, but there’s nothing to really spend it on for the island itself: there are no public works projects or debt to pay off like you have Animal Crossing, no maintenance fees or anything island-specific to make you manage the money you have, you’re just given money and you spend it at the only shops on the island… where some islanders can work part time and presumably give you some of their earnings to spend on them. And except for the occasional argument, there’s no drama on the island. If you want a simple, relaxing game with your only pressure is to cheer someone up with food and disposable cameras, then Tomodachi Life is about as close as you can get to a fish tank that isn’t also gonna cost you a lot of money to maintain.

People will say that games like Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing really don’t have goals, but the fact of the matter is that they do have goals. They’re self-imposed goals more often than not, but they’re still goals. Tomodachi Life really doesn’t have anything like that. The closest there is to a goal is after the first child born on your island grows up that becomes a traveler is when you learn that there is an overall happiness meter for your island and… just make it a bigger number. I don’t know if there is a limit, but it honestly doesn’t matter. But is it fun? Well… it’s certainly addicting, like a free-to-play game. The thing that keeps me coming back is discovering every Mii’s favorite foods and the foods they despise, dressing them up with clothes, and putting them all together so there are lots of babies. If you’re like me and knew you’d find some sort of enjoyment from the game from the Nintendo Direct trailers, you’re gonna like it. If you look at it and just know you won’t like it, chances are your gut is right on the money.

Rating: 5.2

Visuals: 5
Audio: 4
Controls & Mechanics: 5
Atmosphere & Experience: 6
Entertainment Value: 6

This gameshow knows what’s up!

And yes, that’s a an Atty Mii on the back row.

Isn’t he adorable, ladies?

Final Verdict:


  Consoles: Nintendo 3DS

  Developer: Nintendo SPD    

  Publisher: Nintendo

  Release Date (U.S.): June 6, 2014

  Release Date (U.K.): June 6, 2014

  Release Date (JP): April 18, 2013

Last Level Press © Copyright Cliff Davenport  Est. 2013.  Links | Legal Notices

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