A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tomodachi Life is a lighthearted sim that lets kids create Miis and watch their whole island community evolve over time. Miis become friends, have fights, date, get married, and even have babies (all in mysterious ways, of course). Players have some control over the outcome. For example, if two Miis want to go on a date, you can say it's a bad idea. You can also encourage or discourage friendships between the characters. Miis speak everything out loud, as well as in a thought bubble on screen. Even those who aren't strong readers can understand what's going on. While StreetPass (Nintendo's data exchange feature with other 3DS users) isn't required to play, kids can't unlock one of the island areas without it on, which could raise privacy concerns.
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What's it about?
TOMODACHI LIFE takes place on a virtual island inhabited by Miis (Nintendo avatars) you've created. Players can make both kids and adults and customize everything from the shape of their nose and eyes to the sound of their voices and even their personality traits -- like quirkiness and seriousness. Most traits (physical and emotional) can be changed at any time. Each Mii moves into their own apartment, which can be customized with fun skins like a Zen garden or an ice palace. From there, the Miis will start making demands of you for new clothes, hats, and food. They may ask for help with friendships or to play a game. When you help, they'll give you gifts and money that you can spend on items for gifts. Over time, Miis may get married and have babies, who eventually grow into children that may either settle down or set off to travel the world (via StreetPass). Things start slowly, but the more Miis the merrier, so ramp up quickly to at least 10 or more so things can get interesting.
Is it any good?
Tomodachi Life isn't a traditional game, and it may not appeal to kids who are goal-oriented gamers. But for those who enjoy open-ended virtual social experiments, this is a real treat. The customization options for characters are vast, and you can even use a picture of yourself to get started. Have a name that's hard to pronounce? You get a chance to enter the phonetic spelling of your name, ensuring that your Miis can both spell and say their own names correctly.
Each day there are different food, clothes, hats, and decor available, so you can see which ones your Miis like best. The games the Miis like to play are tricky, often expecting you to identify a food item from a blown up or pixelated picture. Since the foods available are quite diverse, it's not always easy to guess between the loco moco, tiramisu, schnitzel, and string cheese, but it's fun trying. Plus, the Miis give you treasure when you're right. Tomodachi Life unfurls slowly over time. It may not be a game you play for hours a day for weeks, but it's one you're likely to revisit over and over to check in on your Miis and see what's going on.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about relationships like the ones in Tomodachi Life. How are friendships formed? What do you do when you have a fight?
Talk about personalities. How are the Miis alike? How are they different? What about the real people in your lives?
Design Miis together, or make one for each family member. See if the Miis become friends.
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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.