Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Tomodachi Life

Review: Tomodachi Life

12:00 PM on 06.06.2014 // Darren Nakamura

Will you be my tomodachi?

Nintendo catches a lot of flak for relying too heavily on its established franchises. Though it has been producing new properties, few have gained traction among hardcore gamers since Pikmin. Tomodachi Life might be overlooked for the same reasons. Its use of Miis and its nebulous gameplay could lead to some labeling it as too casual.

Do not fall into that trap. Tomodachi Life is one of the best Nintendo games in years.

Tomodachi Life (3DS)
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: June 6, 2014
MSRP: $34.99

"Tomodachi" means "friend" in Japanese, and Tomodachi Life is all about getting together with friends. The player acts as a sort of omniscient overseer of a developing island, which is populated by several Miis. Each Mii is assigned certain personality traits in addition to his or her physical traits, and these loosely govern the interactions between Miis.

The player does not directly control any one islander, but can often influence events one way or another. For instance, one of my friends was falling in love with a creepy Mii named Lucifer Von Hades, and I told her that it might be a bad idea. Her feelings were a little hurt by it, but she refrained from asking him out.

Otherwise, the denizens of the island sort of go about their business on their own. They can often be found in the park playing with one another, taking long walks on the beach, or just hanging out in their apartments. Most of the interaction -- and most of the gameplay of Tomodachi Life -- occurs when talking to Miis inside their apartments.

Each villager has a happiness meter. Every so often, a villager will have a problem that needs to be solved. Sometimes they are hungry. Sometimes they want new clothes. Sometimes they want to meet a new neighbor. Sometimes they want to play a minigame. Sometimes they just need somebody to talk to. No matter what it is, fulfilling their needs increases their happiness meter, which awards the player with money to spend on more material goods. Filling the meter up completely causes them to gain levels, which awards one of a handful of bonuses for that Mii, including a catchphrase to greet others with, or the ability to sing songs.

As items are purchased, players fill out the catalog and can order those items at any time, so long as they have the money. Each Mii has favorite and least favorite foods, which will either make them especially happy, or particularly disgusted. As more Miis move to the island and more problems are solved, more locations open up for new activities.

Boiled down to its essence, that is it. Make people happy, get money, buy more stuff to make more people happy, and repeat. What makes Tomodachi so much more than just that are the breadth of wacky activities, and the deeply personal nature of using one's own friends and family as residents of the island.

As far as the former is concerned, it is difficult to even know where to begin. Islanders will wear ridiculous costumes. They will get the hiccups and roll around on the floor. They will sell protein shakes near the fountain. They will blow bubbles in the park. They will accidentally iron themselves flat. They will have bizarre dreams. They will star in a very basic turn-based RPG. They will turn into metal and melt away. I am sure they have even more strange activities to engage in that I have not yet seen. This is the kind of totally nutso weirdness that somehow fits Nintendo so perfectly.

What puts it over the top is the encouragement to use one's own friends and family, or celebrities, established characters, and historical figures. Sure, a rap battle between two Miis is funny on its own, but it becomes downright hilarious when it is between a significant other and Aeris Gainsborough. I have two friends who I have been trying to get together romantically, in real life. Imagine my utter joy and delight to have in-game Jim Sterling dress up in a bear costume and enact a secret plan to get their Miis together on the island. My mother sometimes mispronounces words, so every time her Mii puts her hand on her hip and confidently says her catchphrase "artesian bread," I cannot control my laughter.

Imagining the people who I know and love in these situations is insanely entertaining. I found myself laughing for minutes straight at times. Tomodachi Life knows that it is built on creating off-the-wall memories, and it comes with native screenshot functionality. Since most of the action is controlled via the touchscreen, the buttons are free to take shots at any time. The X button will snap the top screen, and the Y button will grab the bottom screen, both saving to the SD card. With only a couple weeks worth of playing, I have built up dozens of screenshots, each representing an event or situation worth putting in the history books.

The only real bummer is the lack of options for same sex relationships. Part of the enjoyment comes from seeing which Miis end up dating one another, and it can be jarring at the very least to see a friend in a relationship that goes against who he or she is. I can only imagine what it would be like to be that person.

In all, Tomodachi Life is filled with pure, unbridled joy. It puts a stupid grin on my face and keeps it there through its duration. Some might complain that it is "not a game," but they can go on hating. It does require the player to put in some love, flair, and wit, but what comes out is magic.



Tomodachi Life - Reviewed by Darren Nakamura
Entrancing - It's like magic, guys. Time disappears when this game and I are together, and I never want it to end. I'm not sure if this is a love that will last forever, but if it is, you'll get no complaints from me.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Darren Nakamura, Associate Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Dexter345 Tips
Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011. While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strateg... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Tomodachi Life

  Feb 13

Maybe, baby, Dale North is the one for me

How will I know unless we take a chance?

  Jul 21

Best Buy is doing buy one, get one for 3DS games this week

It's a mostly good selection of games, at that

  Jun 20

Nintendo delivers celebrity Miis for Tomodachi Life, including Shaq

Also, Christina Aguilera, Shaun White, Debbie Ryan, and Zendaya

  May 29

Celebrity Mii promotion revealed for Tomodachi Life

You too can be friends with celebrities such as 'Shaq' and 'Coming Soon'

  May 09

Nintendo issues statement on Tomodochi Life controversy

'We are committed to fun and entertainment for everyone'

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Super Destructoid Community Interviews Hyper Encore ##Reload

So I Got a 3DS

Negotiations are over. Rainbow Six Siege is a no buy from me as of now.

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 72: Sexy Dog

Meesa Back! (or, here, or something.) Dev Log #1

Cblogs of 11/23/2015 + Sexuality in Videogames

Better with Age: Classic Games Just Look Better... For Now


Secret Santa with your favorite Destructoid ho-ho-hoes!

An overdue, informal introduction

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I'm sitting on the Fapcast's most recent recording. I just feel like I need a day for myself after, you know, freaking out about rent.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Why is every Quickpost now spaced out like poems with random amounts of stanzas that never ever rhyme?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Was anybody else here extremely disappointed by the ending of Assassin's Creed 2?
Parismio avatarParismio
Just tried Fallout 4 on my PC Via my Cousins steam account and nope, it does not run for me very well. Buying the PS4 version it is!
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
You know who never took any shit from anybody? Dr. Blight.
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
Am I the only one who has to pull up their sleeves to play competantly at videogames? When my hoodie's sleeves are down I play like a piece of shit but when i pull them up, I have more flexibility.
Shinta avatarShinta
PSA: Just picked up Falco amiibo at Best Buy. They had about 20 Tom Nook, 10 singles of Splatoon Boy/Girl, the Splatoon triple pack, about 30 Marths with a big sign saying "Look Who's Back!," Dark Pit, and probably about 15 others. Not too shabby.
Fenriff avatarFenriff
I long for the day that people get over their weird circle jerk hatred for FFXIII related things and just ignore things they don't care about.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
I'm upgrading my PC on the cheap and I'm going with AMD, out of these two CPUs, wich one is better?, A8-7650K or FX-6300?
Logeon avatarLogeon
Huh, I think we broke LightningFarron19, you guys.
Archelon avatarArchelon
KeithTheGeek avatarKeithTheGeek
Being a video game-focused website, it's not often I get to gush about Godzilla. So have a link to one of my favorite tracks in the entire series:
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 really does bring back memories. Specifically, memories of finding unlikely loot on a animal's corpse. I'm just grateful that Bloatfly didn't know how to use that 15 pound flamethrower it was apparently carrying in its bum bag.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
I no longer require seasoning for my Thanksgiving dinner because between the Lightning post here and Undertale beating Fallout 3 in the "best game" vote on GameFAQs, I have all the salt I need. (Image) [img][/img]
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Pfft, who needs context. [img][/img]
voex avatarvoex
Yeah...fuck the NES Castlevanias! Think I'll skip straight to Symphony of the Night.
SirDavies avatarSirDavies
No more heroes. Wii or PS3 version?
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Thanks for that Mother 4 article yesterday I've been listening to nothing but GBA-era soundtracks, truly my golden years of gaming.
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
If you stop to think about it, Thanksgiving is basically #Darksiders2: The Holiday.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -