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.

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Anybody like Rhythm games? I found a really cool one on, I likes it, I likes it a lot! Although you gotta use Firefox due to lag caused by chrome unfortunately.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Finding name brand candy in Chibi-Robo Zip Lash brings an unexpected joy that reminds me of finding Duracell batteries and other real products in the first Pikmin.
techsupport avatartechsupport
Super Meat Boy must be one of the most difficult platinum trophies to exist for Playstation. Beat every dark world section without dying? Ha, okay.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Attention Craigslist users: No one wants your ps2 sports games no matter how much you repost them/drop the price, unless it's NBA Street, Def Jam Vendetta or SSX3. The rest are better used as drink coasters.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
If you imagine this song as Kojima speaking these as parting words to his creation of Metal Gear, it's actually pretty heat breaking...
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
It's my Birthday 22 today, Bleh!
Virtua Kazama avatarVirtua Kazama
One thing I've learned about the Japanese fighting game players: They are willing to play any fighter no matter how good or bad it is, and they don't shit on the game or the community behind it.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
I killed Darth Vader by crashing a spaceship into him 10/10
Parismio avatarParismio
Watched the first ep of One Punch Man and I was not disappointed. It seems like they'll be adding their own stories into it because I don't remember that fight in the last 5 minutes in the manga. I'll have to reread it to make sure.
Paul S avatarPaul S
What the hell is Sega using in the printing of their PS3 game manuals? I wouldn't be surprised if some dumb kid stuck one in a plastic bag and started huffing the fumes to get high.
CeeDotGreen avatarCeeDotGreen
Been playing MGO obsessively, still can't find anyone in their right mind that uses the Hush Puppy. So of course I'm gonna be the dumb bastard that tries.
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
Why don't we have more games that use filtered 3D models to creat faux-pixel art? It's such a cool, smooth style, but you never see any games using it.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Oh lawd. Next Saturday, Gamestop will have three hour access to Tri-Force Heroes. Nintendo, really wish we could just get normal demos from you more often, please!
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
I made this. Want one? [IMG]HTTPS://[/IMG]
JawshButturBawls avatarJawshButturBawls
Star Wars Battlefront is pretty good. Except the beta is basically a demo with nothing in it so that upsets me. but it's still pretty good.
gajknight avatargajknight
Just cleaning up the last of Gotham's Most Wanted before I finish Arkham Knight. Those Riddler trophies...much more fun than Arkham City but my word, stop it Rocksteady. Love the game though, outstanding. In my top 5 this year, fo sho.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
SCIENCE. IS. AWESOME. [youtube][/youtube]
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Looks like my copy of Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash won't be here till Tuesday. What do I pay for Amazon Prime for again? I think I might have to stream me playing it.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I have just heard someone say Uncharted was a "role playing game."
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
The glitched walking animation people carrying crates in Novigrad do is hilarious.
more quickposts


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!


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 -