A life worth living.
It’s 4:45 pm on the island. A rap battle is taking place between Eiji Aonuma and Ganondorf. Elsewhere, Sumonix Editor-in-Chief Adam Vjestica is farting alone in his apartment. Welcome to Tomodachi Life, one of the best non-games I have ever played.
Tomodachi Life takes place on an island in the middle of nowhere. It’s completely barren, with nary a soul to speak of. This is where you, the player, come in.
Playing as yourself and omnipotent overseer of the island, your first task is to create a Mii that will serve as your lookalike, and who will become the first resident of your island. You can create one from scratch, or import a Mii from the Mii Maker or by using a QR code. Eventually you’ll create more Miis than you can count, and as they begin to populate the island, so too will various buildings and installations. Don’t be fooled by the abundance of Miis in Tomodachi Life, though; it’s not so much a game as it is a virtual playhouse, filled with activities to keep your residents occupied…
…and this is where Tomodachi Life starts to feel a bit weird; as if something isn’t quite right. The Miis acknowledge you as the first resident’s lookalike, whom was made in your image. You are then given the passive task of solving problems for the Miis, ranging from clothing them, decorating their apartments and giving them hats, to helping them sneeze, overcome illnesses, and help them make friends and fall in love. I know this looks like a half-baked attempt to draw comparisons between Tomodachi Life and the Bible, and while I’m certain this wasn’t what Nintendo intended (Nintended?) the similarities are hard to ignore.
No Mii is an Island
Ultimately, though, Tomodachi Life isn’t about symbolism of deep, pretentious meanings. It’s about passing time in a most unique way. If I had to draw any real comparisons, I’d say it felt like a mashup of Animal Crossing and WarioWare, with a sprinkling of Nintendogs, albeit without the dogs. The thing is, as a game, Tomodachi Life is pretty lacking, but as a virtual installation, it’s fascinating.
Tomodachi Life truly is the game that Miis were made for, and they’re absolutely bursting with personality. This is helped largely by their synthesised speech. Think Animalese in Animal Crossing, except slower and in actual English. The system does a surprisingly good job of pronouncing words correctly, even if the tone of voice can be awkward at times. It’s just really charming to hear the Miis speak in this way, and I’m quite thankful this feature is there, because the game would feel a lot emptier without it. And of course, you can alter how each Mii speaks using various sliders, ranging from deep to squeaky, slow to fast, and so on. You can make your Miis sound serious, ridiculous, or somewhere in between if you want.[yt_video id=”T7AhEz2CnTU”][/yt_video]
There are literally hundreds of events to uncover, and the random nature of the game means very few events will be the same.
So you have your island full of Miis, but what exactly do they get up to? Well, Tomodachi Life can be seen as a series of events that shape the life of your Mii inhabitants. To give away what the various events are would be to ruin some of the fun. It’s a game about discovery, but what I will say is that Tomodachi Life is one of the funniest games I have ever played, and will absolutely quell any bad mood. Working a crappy 9-5? Don’t worry, Willem Dafoe is rolling around his apartment floor because he literally has nothing better to do. Going through a messy break-up? Duke Nukem has you covered with his innovative ravioli bath.
There are literally hundreds of events to uncover, and the random nature of the game means very few events will be the same, and most of them are outright hilarious. I haven’t even mentioned some of the bizarre fever dreams your Miis can have. If the thought ever crosses your mind that there’s a vicious gateway drug influencing your island populace, these dreams will cement that hypothesis as stone cold proof.
So, what else is there to do besides witnessing your Miis go about their wonderfully bizarre lives? Well, not much honestly. Tomodachi Life is a very passive game, and I appreciate that may turn off players who swear by a strict diet of hardcore games. Hardcore this is not, but the game’s non-existent load times make for very palatable play times; I’d say Tomodachi Life is best played in shorter bursts, but strangely, that’s not the case at all. The lives of your Miis are so fascinating, so surprisingly layered, that your play sessions could potentially last for hours on end. In a similar fashion to the equally brilliant Nintendo Pocket Football Club, it’s easy to lose yourself in the game’s charming premise and aesthetic.
In the end, what’s so great about Tomodachi Life is that words really can’t do it justice. It’s such a bizarre oddity of a game that it absolutely must be tried to be believed. It’s hilariously funny, acts as a wonderful anti-depressant, and is just straight up unique. It has that level of charm only a company like Nintendo can provide, and good lord does Tomodachi Life deliver the charm in titan-sized spades. For that alone, I can’t recommend this game enough.
Laughter is The Spice of Life
Tomodachi Life isn’t so much a game as it is a strangely addictive fishtank, in which you observe your created Miis go about their wonderfully wacky lives. If the lack of any actual “game” doesn’t put you off and you’re up for a wonderfully unique and hilarious time, Tomodachi Life certainly delivers on these fronts.