10 Things Parents Should Know About Tomodachi Life

10 Things Parents Columns Videogames

tomodachi life

Some video games tell you everything you need to know about them in their clearly concise titles like Duck Hunt or Don’t Starve. Others are more ambivalent, like Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, or just plain weird – I’m looking at you, Um Jammer Lammy! With that in mind, allow me to drop some science re: Nintendo’s recently released Tomodachi Life.

Wait; it’s not “Tamagotchi” Life? Nope. The name of Bandai’s classic virtual pet was a portmanteau that translates roughly to English as something like “egg watch,” whereas tomodachi simply means “friend.” Tomodachi Life is a 3DS life sim that’s actually a sequel to a best-selling Japanese-only DS game.

So it’s another life sim like Animal Crossing? I describe it as Animal Crossing meets The Sims by way of Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python cartoons, but it’s probably a fairer assertion to say that Tomodachi Life is the full realization of the kinds of interactions we liked to pretend were happening in the Wii’s original Mii Channel. Remember how it looked like our Miis were hanging out and interacting with each other? In this title that actually happens.

tomodachi mii news

So it uses the Miis I already have? Yeah, it’s easy to import Miis already on your 3DS (or from your Wii U to your 3DS for inclusion). You can make new Miis from scratch, obviously, and there’s also a handy QR code import feature that Nintendo is using to share official celebrity Miis.

Celebrities? Shaq, Christina Aguilera and more are available via the game’s official site, but you can also scour the web for other suitable QR codes. Because sometimes you want to know what’d happen if Jack Black and Kirk Hammett were neighbors.

Wasn’t there some sort of controversy surrounding this game? There was. The game’s original 2013 Japanese release was plagued by bugs. One caused game-halting save issues, while the other, which may or may not have been directly related, sometimes caused imported Miis to be unceremoniously dropped into an existing characters’ romances regardless of gender – leading to same-sex relationships. Nintendo of Japan patched the title, thereby removing these pairings. In anticipation of an American release, many in the fan community spoke out in a campaign dubbed Miiquality asking specifically for the option of same-sex relationships to be included, so as to more accurately reflect the diversity of the gaming audience. Nintendo of America’s initial statement regarding this outcry came off as rather cold, but they later revised their stance and pledged to “strive to design a gameplay experience from the ground up that is more inclusive, and better represents all players” in future installments.

tomodachi relationships

Marriage?! I wouldn’t say that marriage is a goal in the game, mind you, but as your Miis interact they build bonds—friendships, romantic relationships… they can even have kids.

What exactly do the Miis do in there? Once you’ve created/imported your Miis, you’re asked to give them personalities and synthesized speaking voices. These determine the kinds of problems your Miis will have and the (alternately charming and spooky) voices they’ll use to ask you for help. Sometimes they’ll want to make friends with a new neighbor or they’ll have a disagreement with an existing friend. Other times they’ll be bored or hungry or sick. You, their benevolent creator, can help them by giving conversation prompts or providing food/clothing/medicine/toys from a growing collection of stuff. Additional stuff is received as rewards for your aid, as is money which can be used to – you guessed it – buy even more stuff. Happier, more fulfilled citizens lead to more complex relationships which in turn yield more and newer buildings, activities and attractions on your home island. Since each member of this growing community is unique, you’ll quickly discover that they all have different likes and dislikes, different dreams and motivations, different… lives. It makes for fascinating gameplay without the constant grind of other perpetual worlds like the aforementioned Animal Crossing. If you leave your island alone for a few days you’ll return to find that your Miis managed to get along pretty well even without your divine intervention.

So is this something can we play together as a family? Sadly, there’s only one save slot, and, as you’re asked to move in your own avatar first, the Miis will usually refer to the player as “[you name]’s look-alike.” Still, my kids just love to watch all the silliness unfold as I monitor the daily goings-on. Will Steve Martin like the bellhop uniform we gave him? Will grandma win this round of the weekly rap battle? Why is Niles jogging in nothing but a bath towel? Is that cousin Cade delivering the afternoon news?

That sounds… weird. It is. It really, really is.

tomodachi rap battle

Okay, bottom line it for me. Tomodachi Life is a game unlike any other. It’s open-ended and patently surreal gameplay rewards experimentation and creativity. Miis’ relationships can flourish or flounder with your intervention. Their interests are dependent upon their personalities, but influenced by the tools you provide them. They love to sing and dance and perform, but you can determine the lyrics and tone. It’s like an interactive ant farm full of fascinating digital doppelgangers. It’s also the only chance I’ll ever have to marry Emma Stone.

Review and promotional materials provided by: Nintendo of America

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35 thoughts on “10 Things Parents Should Know About Tomodachi Life

    1. I can guarantee you that this will never be on an Apple product. This is a Nintendo developed and published game. They do not put their games on anything but their own platforms (i.e. DS, 3DS, Wii, Wii U).

  1. We are considering buying this for our 9 year old daughter for her birthday. I know you said that there were romances…Just how romantic do the characters get? I just don’t want to expose her to anything inappropriate. Kissing is fine, but I just want to make sure they don’t show anything lewd. Any insight would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. I don’t have the game myself, but I do want it, and I’ve been watching let’s plays of it.. it’s perfectly harmless, there’s no sex involved or anything..zip completely kid friendly so you should definitely get it for you daughter 🙂

    2. They really don’t do much when they’re in a relationship — not even hug. The most they ever do is just stare at each other, haha.

    3. Nope, there’s nothing inappropriate about it. Romances mostly consist of eventual marriage and then, once wed, cohabitation. I honestly haven’t even noticed a lot in the way of kissing–just lots of smiling Miis with hearts floating around them. There’s an option for married couples to have kids, but, while none of my Miis have gotten there yet, I’m assuming the children just kind of “show up” one day.

      1. they will ask you if you are ok with it then next time you start the game a phone will appear and they say ‘guess what? we had a baby’

    4. Doesn’t really have much in the way of any physical contact between the Miis, not even kissing at the wedding. The Miis kind of smile at each other, and little hearts float over their heads. The game is very PG (and is set up for short play, so it won’t eat up hours of your child’s life.)

    5. It’s completely safe; don’t worry. When Miis get married, they simply have a wedding, and shake hands. Eventually they move in together, and will (sometimes) sleep in the same bed. Don’t worry though, no inappropriate touching or not even kissing for that matter. Later on, they may have children, and your daughter can choose what it will be like. Also, children can get married to each other, but they will use a spray that turns them into adults. Children and adults won’t get married to each other.

    6. All Nintendo-exclusive games are G-rated.If it’s developed by Nintendo SPD or Game Freak, it’s saintly enough for the pope.

      1. I believe Eternal Darkness was a Nintendo-exclusive, the first to be published directly from them too, and it was rated M. Granted the majority are rated G but I wouldn’t go as far as to say all are rated G.

        1. For clarity’s sake: Eternal Darkness was not the first game to be directly published by Nintendo – it was the first M rated game to be published directly by Nintendo.

          I’d say a good upwards 95% of First Party Nintendo content is child friendly though, and a good majority of their second party content as well – probably.

    7. There is no inappropriate conduct I the game as far as I have seen. I have been playing it since the day it came out and am having fun watching my community grow!

    8. Hi, you probably won’t read this, seeing as you left your question so long ago, but my 8 year old daughter has this game, and she loves it. The romances are nothing too intense, just a case of one character asking the plsuer of they should tell another character how they feel about them (“I really like Kane. Do you think I should tell him? Should I change my outfit?”). Things like that. His game is pretty quirky, and i must say that i like it a lot. Unless your daughter is very young for her age, it should be fine. It doesn’t have as much mature content as, say, The Sims, for example. Also, it’s not merely about finding romance for the characters. There are so many different things to do that I couldn’t even begin to list them here! Basically, its about getting to know the characters, discovering their likes/dislikes, sting mini-games with them and decorating their apartments. I know this doesn’t give you all that much info, but I hope it helps a little

    9. i am wondering the same for my 8yr old.. the husbands and wives sleep together and have showers together.. so i don’t think that is appropriate

      1. No, they don’t have showers with other miis. I don’t know where you got that. Spouses do sleep in the same bed, but far apart from each other. Trust me, I’ve had this game for months.

  2. I am thinking about getting this game myself…. I don’t know if I would enjoy this game though. I have watched videos online (Like game-plays) And the game didn’t seem so appealing! Though reading this did make me second think. I might as well try it… I hope I don’t regret it! (I enjoy Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Sims 3 I am going to buy the Sims 4 soon too!)

    1. You can. If its only set to man and woman. Create maybe a boy as a girl and a girl as a girl and just get ’em close and wallah. It happened to a youtuber. XD

  3. Wait. So just to clarify; there are no same sex relationships? That’s a shame. It still sounds fun though!

  4. If we have two 3ds’, can one cartridge be shared between the two? What happens if we use the cartridge in the second 3ds? Will it erase the first game?


    1. You can only have one save, and nothing will be deleted. However, I wouldn’t recommend playing on two 3DS, since the game won’t restock the shops for a few days if it detects a time chance, and since the two systems aren’t set to the exact same millisecond, the game counts it as changing the time. Which results in shops not updating for a few days.

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