Sometimes it does feel like there's a bit of a shortage of life sim-esque games out there... Sure there's all the ones where you care for animals, or run village shops, and there's always the old failsafe of The Sims, but sometimes you want something a bit more... Quirky. Something a bit sillier. Something... Like Tomodachi Life.Imagine sticking characters based on friends, family, celebrities, pretty much anyone else you can imagine on to an island, and watching them all interact with each other. Imagine the things they could get up to, the crazy situations they'd find themselves in, and the unlikely romances that may occur. Like a soap opera, but with a cast of your choosing. In a nutshell, with a typical sprinkling of Nintendo goodness, that's the basic essence of Tomodachi Life.
It's also one of those games that's hard to explain, as there's so little quite like it. You become the owner of an island, and populate it with Miis, unlocking various shops and places as Miis move in, before settling down to try and solve their troubles. The Miis take part in activities around the island, and interact with each other, both in good and bad ways. They all have their own tastes, make their own friendships, but do need a little poking from you.
Upon first loading Tomodachi Life, you begin by naming the island, and go to populating it with a variety of Mii characters, either by creating them from scratch or importing them from the Mii Maker, then creating their personalities and voices. With a huge spectrum of personalities on offer (all set through a variety of slider bars), no two Miis will behave in the same way, and the slightly robotic sounding (depending on the settings chosen) voices add to the quirkiness of the game.
But with such a variety of things to do in the game, Tomodachi Life doesn't really lend itself all that well to a traditional review. That's why we've decided to write it out as a diary instead, as we invite you to spend a day on Cheese Island.
It's the beginning of a new day on Cheese Island and there is oh-so-much to do! Shops have new stuff available, events are happening, and Miis are out and about! The first thing to do, though, is to check out the Park, for the Throwing Disc event! There I found Tymek and Azwah, both ready to play, so we spent a while throwing the disc to each other... Azwah did get a bit impatient after me and Tymek threw the disc to each other for a while, but it's OK. He'll probably forgive me...
After this slight detour, we move on to the Fountain, where a few events are going on - first up, all the Miis line up to fill up a piggy bank of donations, and then the Morning Market, where I find Nintendo president, Mr Iwata selling cornflakes. He drives a hard bargain ("please understand"), so we can't help but buy some!
After taking part in the morning activities, it's time to go to the apartments to check up on the little Miis and seeing what they are all up to... And of all the Miis in the apartments, only three have stuff that needs to be dealt with at the moment, so it's time to flick through the rooms and see what is up...
First, is Rob, who wants to be friends with Iwata. That's understandable enough, and so we watch as he goes over to Iwata's apartment to have a chat (what they talk about, I'm not too sure... Maybe they're discussing Iwata's new cornflake business?) Either way, it seems to go well, judging by the ring of stars that appears.
Upon returning to his apartment, Rob confirms that all went well, and as if by magic, the two are now friends, which prompts his happiness to level up! The more you do to make your Miis happy, the more they'll level up, and each time they level up, you have the option of giving them a few things (A song, an item, a new room design, a catchphrase or pocket money) - but for Rob, he'll probably like the song best.
Next up is KC, who wants me to look inside his head. As a totally normal conversation starter, I agree, and take a peak inside to see... A toilet? "This is the sort of thing I think about" he says, afterwards, leaving me wondering if he's desperate for the loo or just spends most of his time pondering u-bends.
The third bubble is Tymek, who reveals that on his wanders around Cheese Island (at least, on his way back from the Park and the Frisbee...) he found a Basketball. Upon taking a closer look at it, we find Iwata's name on it... Looks like we need to take it back to its owner! Taking a quick trip back to Iwata's apartment, we hand the basketball back over (*gestures* "Directly", to Iwata), and both Miis are happy.
With those three sorted out, we can peek through the other apartment windows and see what all the other Miis are getting up to...
Most of the Miis aren't doing anything too noteworthy (bar rolling around on the floor, or staring into space), but both Rob and Dale have decided to head round to Iwata's apartment, where the three are all playing with a cat! Spending more time with the cat than they are chatting, it's still nice to see them all getting on well together.
Flicking through the other rooms reveals legendary Nintendo designer Miyamoto taking a morning nap, with a little dream bubble floating over his head. Being ever the peeping Tom, we decide to have a peak at what he's dreaming about... It's an interesting enough dream, where Miyamoto's a superhero, complete with a catchphrase and transformation, "By the power of pink bundt cakes!". When the dream is over, I manage to pick up a robo-hero costume, much like the one from the dream...
With no more tasks for the moment, it's time for a trip to the Concert Hall, a place where Miis can sing songs, both on their own and as part of a group! With Rob having been given another song earlier, I can now get upstart group, The Cheeses, to sing another type of song... Choosing the type of song you want from the menu, you can let your Miis perform the track to some built in lyrics, which they'll happily sing, but there's no fun in that. Given the band is called The Cheeses and you can see the Cheese-y theme we're getting at, it's time to edit the lyrics... Some editing later, the second Cheeses song is complete!
Also to be done quickly is to watch the morning's Mii News segment. Reported on is a documentary being filmed on the Island, of the Mii's and their everyday activities... Of course, being the sort of people that they are, once they know they're being filmed, things don't go quite as planned....
After a little bit of a break, it's a quick jump back to Cheese Island, to check out the events that the Miis are getting up to now. Just the one at the moment, at the Amusement Park, where there's a Magic Show going on! Rob has decided to have a go at being a magician and is showing off his magic powers (with a little bit of help from the audience), while poor Gonic ends up in a bit of a situation...
12 means it's time to check out the Afternoon Market at the Park! There I find the site's co-Editor Sarah, wearing a nice hamster costume, selling her own design of striped shirts! Much like the Morning Market, we give in to their advanced sales tactics, and purchase a couple.
Also worth a look at are some of the items that a Mii can be given and used as reward items - different from the gifts they can be given when their happiness levels up. Using Beth as a test subject, we try out the sewing machine, which gives us a nice reward of a White Shirt. Secondly, we hand over the Frying Pan, and after a while of cooking get back... a Seasonal Roast Chicken. Cooked in a Frying Pan. As is how you normally make roast chicken.
A bit of a late hop back into the Island, but now it is past half two, Tomodachi Quest can be played at the Amusement Park! Insert one coin into the arcade machine, and off we go!
A retro themed mini role playing game that turns your Miis into 8-bit characters, the 4-Mii party first gets jumped by an evil Swimming Certificate, that luckily goes down easily after just one blow... Then they journey into a cave, where they first face off against a Salmon Meuniere. After a brief fight, they are again victorious and come to a fork in the path... The curious party decides to go left, which turns out to be a dead end, and so they have to retrace their steps back to the fork in the path and end up in another fight - this time with a dastardly Wind Chime. It proves to be no match for the little party, who can then make their way to the final boss of their quest, a giant R.O.B the robot! It's a long, arduous battle, that ultimately ends in victory, even if one Mii did end up pretending to be dead, but the four have finished their quest!
After the quest is finished, it's time for a trip to the Park, where Miyamoto is holding a BBQ with a couple of other Miis from the Island. They spend a while, eating their barbecued snacks, talking about the best dessert to have at a barbecue, and generally enjoying the good weather that is typical of the Island.
As the day goes on, there is less to do and happening, other than the usual Miis requesting food, or wanting to be friends with each other, but the other event of note happens at the Amusement Park - the Evening Market... Here we find Gonic who has decided to hold a stall selling Lucky Bags, containing three random items for £50. Curious as ever, we have a go, and our £50 nets us a Spinning Top, a Dice and a Doner Kebab! Whilst not the greatest items to find inside a Lucky Bag (and certainly not worth the £50 we spent), we suppose it does all come down to, as the name suggests, luck - even if Gonic is left grinning.
So, in summary, Tomodachi Life is one of those quirky games where every day plays out differently, with a range of activities to do and see, with each island having its own unique stories between islanders. Whilst the quirkiness and slow pace is not for everyone, it is a pretty good game to relax with or even to have running just off to the side whilst doing something else.