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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fantasy Life is a life-simulation and fantasy-adventure game in which players take on the role of a male or female villager who embarks on a variety of careers -- such as cook, blacksmith, tailor, or miner -- learning important skills associated with each. Some careers involve mild violence; being the paladin sees players attacking monsters and animals in the wild in bloodless combat. Most careers, however, are composed primarily of chatting, foraging, and crafting as players diligently perform their virtual jobs, fulfilling a nearly endless stream of requests from their mentors and random citizens. Parents with online concerns should note that kids can play with others over the Internet but only if they've exchanged a friend code.
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What's it about?
FANTASY LIFE puts players in the shoes of a cute little villager who embarks on a journey that spans a dozen different "Lives" -- game-speak for careers. Kids start off choosing to be an alchemist or angler or a carpenter, cook, miner, paladin, woodcutter, hunter, blacksmith, wizard, mercenary, or tailor. Then they meet their master, a veteran of the trade who teaches them the basics and provides challenges. Opt to be a cook, and you'll need to find ingredients for specific recipes, either by foraging in the country or purchasing them from vendors. If you're having a tough time tracking down ingredients, you may want to switch to another job -- angler or hunter -- that will give you the skills necessary to attain them. All the jobs link up with one another in various ways and make use of the same set of basic attributes, such as strength, focus, and dexterity, so you can continue to improve in one discipline even as you focus on another. Online cooperative play allows kids to hook up with their friends to adventure together, which can be handy for paladins and mercenaries facing tough enemies or craftspeople who want to trade for rare items.
Is it any good?
Fantasy Life mixes elements of multiple games -- life simulation, RPGs, and cooking, crafting, and action games -- in a grand adventure that encourages kids to forge their own paths. At the start, each new person met and location explored provides players with ideas for what they might want to do next. For example, you might find gem veins that require mining skills while hunting or realize that the ingredients you need for your next dish as a cook can only be obtained by making your way through a hostile cave that requires the skills of a hunter or paladin. This encourages kids to try new lives and earn additional skills, perfecting new mini-games and earning more "bliss" (the game's term for happiness). Along they way you'll pick up a pet or two, move to a bigger and better place that can be furnished however you like, and come to the aid of a lot of people who need help to one degree or another.
It can get a bit repetitive at times -- the vast majority of tasks falls into the category of "fetch quests" that require you to find a certain number of pine logs or hunt down a specific quantity of monster -- but the game's smart writing, interesting characters, and colorful world should go a long way toward keeping kids interested in their chosen lives. And it might just teach them something about what it's like to have a career in the process.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about careers such as the ones in Fantasy Life. Kids: Do you have any idea what you'd like to do when you grow up? Are any of the jobs in this game plausible in our world? Which did you enjoy most?
Discuss violence against animals in games. Does killing animals in games make you uncomfortable? Some games let you attack animals any way you like, while others require you to hunt them as part of your job, harvesting their skins for leather and meat for food. Is there a significant difference between these motives?
Talk about fantasy games. Not everyone likes them, with some feeling they're inaccessible for players who don't always play those kinds of games. How might Fantasy Life appeal to non-fantasy game players? Is the gameplay so accessible anyone can enjoy it?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading
Social Studies: citizenship
Hobbies: collecting, cooking, fashion, pets
- Skills: Self-Direction: set objectives, work to achieve goals, working efficiently
Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Responsibility & Ethics: honoring the community
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: October 26, 2014
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Horses and Farm Animals, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.