For the past three weeks, Tomodachi Collection: New Life has been the best-selling game in Japan — and in its first week, the best-selling game in the world.
When I picked it up, I knew next to nothing about it. I had heard that it was a sequel to the Japan-only DS title Tomodachi Collection and played like a cross between Animal Crossing and The Sims. And as the original game sold over three million copies in Japan, I was excited to pick up this new one.
But whatever I expected when I thought of “a cross between Animal Crossing and The Sims,” it wasn’t this. Instead, I found myself in a world of my favourite childhood characters, playing very odd mini-games in between listening to their bizarre demands. Check out my notes of my first three-and-a-half hours of play below for the full story.
Minus 2 Hours After finding out that Miis will be the only characters in the game, I scour the web and fill up my 3DS with Miis of various famous game, movie, and TV show characters.
1 Minute I start the game and am asked to name my little island. I choose the remarkably unoriginal name “Kotaku Island.”
2 Minutes Now I am being asked to import my first character. I choose, of course, the most beautiful bald man alive: me.
2 Minutes, 30 Seconds It seems that I need more information on my Mii than what the DS normally requires. Now beside just my nickname, I need my first and last name, blood type, and whether I am a child or an adult.
4 Minutes Now I must choose my Mii's voice and personality. I have chosen to be an active person and a hothead. That won't turn out badly, will it?
5 Minutes I have now unlocked the apartment building. My room is a barren wasteland. Ah, it reminds me of my first apartment right out of college. No furniture, no nothing. Alone and sleeping on the floor.
6 Minutes Unsurprisingly, my Mii does not enjoy living alone in this island city, so it's time to import another Mii.
10 Minutes And who do I choose to live with me in this island paradise? Captain Picard, of course. Bald men unite.
15 Minutes Captain Picard is unhappy. I am hardly surprised. But why is he angry? It seems he's hungry. Luckily for him, a wild fast food restaurant suddenly appears.
16 Minutes You know, I was under the impression this is a game for all ages... So.. Um... Why does the server have a bag over her head? It feels straight out of a horror movie and it's creeping me out.
18 Minutes In my panic to get out of that cursed restaurant as quickly as possible, I buy the cheapest thing I can think of. I hope Picard likes cup ramen.
19 Minutes Lucky me! Apparently, cup ramen is his favourite food. Star Trek fans take note.
22 Minutes Alright, as I have unlocked the city hall, it's time to import more characters! I start with Seven of Nine, Cyclops, Storm, Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, Doc Brown, the Joker, Midna (from Zelda), Mog, Solid Snake, Lara Croft, Kefka, Aeirth, Cheetara, Princess Leia...
45 Minutes After importing a few characters, I get a news broadcast about my increase in population. Storm and Chris are now working at the news station it seems.
1 Hour After 10 more characters have been added, I get a new news flash about us having a party. Seven of Nine is working the news desk.
1 Hour, 25 Minutes After a good hour, the apartment building is nearly full. I had to add first and last names as well as a personality to every character I pulled in. It is not the fastest of processes. In other news, Princess Zelda is now my newscaster.
1 Hour, 30 Minutes Alright, I have now unlocked a fountain. Everyone lined up to donate money. I made 87 bucks... which I'm sure I will soon spend on feeding the poor helpless bastards.
1 Hour, 43 Minutes So, um... Seven of Nine wants me to play with her... um... OK. I mean, who am I to turn down an offer like that —
1 Hour, 44 Minutes Oh. Ooooooh! She wants to play catch. Like literally play a game. OK. Glad that's all sorted out.
1 Hour, 45 Minutes Wait! She's dropping a piece of coral and I'm supposed to catch it before it hits the ground? Um, that's not how I learned to play catch...
1 Hour, 50 Minutes Wow... Seven of Nine's dreams are weeeeeird.
2 Hours, 10 Minutes So one of my friends wants some food. Batman seems to have a new day job working at McDonalds.
2 Hours, 20 Minutes Spock needs some help. He makes me wave a feather under his nose.
2 Hours, 25 Minutes Dexter (from Dexter's Lab) wants some new clothes. To the store!
2 Hours, 27 Minutes I get him a dress shirt and pants. He seems happy.
2 Hours, 35 Minutes Christ, I do one nice thing... Now Picard wants new clothes, too!
2 Hours, 40 Minutes One of my real world friends has challenged me to table sumo. It is as awesome as it sounds.
2 Hours, 45 Minutes Midna wants to be my friend. Sure... as long as she doesn't turn me into a wolf.
2 Hours, 50 Minutes Sergeant Slaughter is the newest newscaster. Lara Croft opens a hat store. Speaking of Lara, she wants to play a game... and of course it's that bloody “catch” game again.
2 Hours, 55 Minutes Midna and I think something is wrong with Picard. Time for me to introduce the two of them... and then spy on them while they go on a... date(?) ...I am somewhat creeped out by this.
3 Hours, 10 Minutes Uh oh, Kefka has a problem. I am scared. Oh! He just wants something sweet to eat (hopefully not the souls of small children).
3 Hours, 11 Minutes ...Oh wait, no, that's just the reward he gives me for helping.
3 Hours, 15 Minutes Cloud wants some furniture. I'm gonna give him a steampunk room.
3 Hours, 17 Minutes ...But when I try to give it to him, he wants to play memory instead. Still, I kick his arse and win a bathroom set.
3 Hours, 18 Minutes Cloud does seem to like his new room, though.
3 Hours, 25 Minutes Aerith wants me to teach her a new word!? OK, I teach her the word “dodge.” Might save her life one day.
3 Hours, 30 Minutes Alright! My Mii levels up and buys a rock song as a reward. Then I get to perform it with Princess Zelda, Ensign Ro, Storm, and Mog the Moogle as my backup dancers. Truly this is a wonderful life.
Tomodachi Collection: New Life was released on April 18, 2013, for the 3DS in Japan. There is currently no word on an international release. Stay tuned to Kotaku East for the full import preview later this week.
Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.