Tag Archives: Tomodachi Life

Miitopia is no utopia because of its battle system

Miitopia‘s been a long-time coming. I don’t say this from a place of knowledge, but rather observation. Naturally, it all began on the Nintendo Wii, with the company’s introduction of Miis, Nintendo’s take on customizable avatars. Miis are created using different body, facial, and clothing features. The options are somewhat limited, but still detailed enough to make a solid representation of yourself or your favorite celebrity. No, really, take a look. In fact, even after all these years, I still think my Mii avatar looks closest to what I look like in real life than my Xbox avatar or any character I’ve made in my likeness for an epic RPG, save maybe for my boss in Saints Row: The Third, just kiddin’.

Since then, the Miis have shown up in several RPG-esque titles, such as Pokémon Rumble World, Tomodachi Life, and, of course, the StreetPass Mii Plaza minigames, specifically Find Mii and Find Mii 2, where the seed of Miitopia was certainly planted. Though the quirkiness of Tomadachi Life is highly prevalent, as is also the randomness, to the game’s detriment, but more on that in just a bit. I’d apologize for all the hyperlinks in this paragraph, but those are all games I’ve played and have a bunch of thoughts on, so if you like reading, then click, click, click away.

So, in Miitopia, the citizens of a mighty eccentric kingdom need saving. Why? Well, the Dark Lord is ripping the faces off of Miitopians and attaching them to all kinds of monsters. This is naturally causing a lot of chaos and distress, and it is up to the player’s party to defeat these monstrosities, return the rightful faces, and bring back peace to this silly fantasy land. Here’s my cast of zany characters so far:

  • Party members
    • Pauly, thief class
    • Bitsy, a.k.a. my sister, pop star class
    • Morgan Freeman, cleric class
    • Snape, mage class
  • Dark Lord – Ron Swanson
  • Greenhorne citizens
    • Shrek, carefree guide
    • Nano, cheery granny
    • Jon Snow, sassy child
    • Jaehee, worried mother
    • Jafar, part of the lovey-dovey couple
    • Erza, part of the lovey-dovey couple
    • Diglett, sarcastic guy
    • E Gadd, dubious mayor
  • Royalty
    • King Santa
    • Princess Beyoncé
    • Prince Dan Ryckert
    • Prince Buzz Lightyear
  • Castle Guard
    • King Rhoam, serious soldier
    • Jake Paul, lax soldier
    • SuperSonic, royal support (right)
    • Bendy, royal support (left)
  • Great Sage – Satoru Iwata
  • Roaming Gourmet – SpongeBob
  • Nintendo Fan – Margaret

Whew. That’s a lot, I know, and there could be more people to cast in various roles to go. I’m hoping to get at least two more party members, as I need a chef and a warrior to balance everything out. Also, many of these roles were automatically filled in when I started Miitopia, but one can switch Miis out at any time. I’m okay with the selections so far, as I at least got to decide on who is and who is not royalty, as well as my main fighting crew. Strangely, the zany mix of people works out quite well and creates some fun, silly situations, such as Morgan Freeman comforting Snape after taking damage or my sister ending up in a love triangle between the two of them and causing jealousy and heartbreak to run wild.

Look, I love role-playing games. I’m pretty obsessive about them, and I enjoy, for the most part, all types. Action RPGs, JRPGs, Western RPGs, big RPGs, bite-sized RPGs, anime-heavy RPGs, and even some SRPGs. Naturally, the element that distinguishes most RPGs is the combat, the battle system, the whatever. The part where you attack an enemy opposition and gain experience points, money, and loot from them to help you grow in levels and defeat stronger progress-blocking walls. It’s what you do between cutscenes and exploring towns. Alas, so far, I’m not in love with Miitopia‘s combat system, which is a core part of its gameplay loop.

Battles in Miitopia are turn-based, but you can only control what your avatar does. The other members of your party act on their own, making their own decisions, for better or for worse. Not having control of my entire party is a strong design choice, one that saw me bounce hard off of games like Phantasy Star II and Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. It also rears its ugly head in Suikoden III, which I’m simultaneously noodling with, post on that game coming soon. From the world map, you select an area to explore, also not in your control, eventually triggering specific events or random battles. The action order is determined by each Mii and monster’s speed statistic, with everyone getting one action per turn, save for bosses because they like to break rules.

When creating your Mii party members, you must give each one a quirk, such as stubborn or kind, and these play out in how your character grows and performs in battle. For example, a stubborn Mii might cast a spell twice if they are unsatisfied with the results, and a kind Mii will occasionally take damage for a friend not paying attention. I went with laid-back for myself, if you were curious. Bonds are also built between Miis by having them share a room at the inn after a day of battling and opening treasure chest or interacting in battle. Each level of friendship between two Miis brings about even more random abilities you can’t control, such as showing off for friends or consoling them when necessary, all which provide boosts. It makes watching the battles a little more engaging, but also frustrating because you never know what anyone is going to do and, sometimes, they do the wrong thing.

Other strange elements to combat include the safe spot and sprinkles. The former is a single space behind your adventuring party where a wounded or afflicted Mii can recuperate faster or heal its HP/MP over time and not be a target for the enemy. Sprinkles, other than being the wrong name for those colorful sugar strands you put on ice cream, are additional boosts in the form of salt shakers. You have one for HP, one for MP, and one for reviving a downed Mii, of varying amounts, and these replenish between fights. They are also upgraded over time as you defeat more enemies. At least you have control of when you want to use these and how.

I don’t intend to come across as highly negative on the game, as there is a lot to Miitopia that is enjoyable, specifically its music. No, really–listen to the tune that plays on loop on the main menu. I promise you it’ll get your head bobbin’ in no time. There’s a bunch of other quirky tunes that play throughout your adventures, such as when eating stat-raising food or playing the mini-games or watching a scene where one Mii gives another Mii a special present. From an audio perspective, this thing is pure glee and delight.

Well, this post went long. My bad. Looks like I have some strong opinions already about Miitopia, and I’m only a couple hours in. I really do want to stick with it and see where things go, but I don’t know if I can handle another uncontrollable Mii losing a fight due to casting Sleep on my sister instead of Fire on the almost defeated boss. Yeah, Severus Snape, LV 9 mage, I’m talking about you.

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Eat bread, make friends, belt out a ballad, and more in Tomodachi Life

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Since its announcement, I’ve been pretty excited for Tomodachi Life. Watching the gang over at Giant Bomb play through some of its silliness and strangeness during one of the latest Unprofessional Fridays really helped seal the deal, and so I went right out the next day to snag a retail copy of the game. True, this is the sort of game one might want a digital version of so they can pop into it any time they want, but I’m a physical collector at heart. Truthfully, I was surprised to see it priced at $40.00 and initially balked, but decided it is ultimately better to support the quirky titles from Nintendo in hopes of more quirky titles from Nintendo. Paying it forward, y’know.

Anyways, you start out by creating an avatar to be your first island inhabitant. Naturally, narcissistic tendencies took over, and I selected the Mii modeled after me from my Mii Plaza. They refer to this dude as a “Pauly look-alike,” which is pretty cute and, at the same time, alarming. The clones will overtake us all. You can then fill an apartment with more Miis; some I downloaded off the Internet, a few more came over from the Mii Plaza, and I made one or two new ones from scratch. If you want a taste of what my islanders amount to, then here: Shaq, April Ludgate, Ron Swanson, Matt Mason, Minerva McGonagall, Satoru Iwata, and more. Plus, I have about six-seven more empty apartments to fill, but I’m in no rush to see those rooms occupied.

Tomodachi Life is a game best played in small bursts, and slowly at that. You navigate the island, which is more or less a collection of different button prompts, via the touchscreen and stylus. You can go to the food store and see what the daily specials are, you can visit the town fountain and watch as your Miis donate some coin, and you visit event spots like the beach or park to see if anything neat is going down. The main meat of the island is the apartment building, and here you can check in on your Miis. Some may be sleeping, some may be out at their day job, and some may be in someone else’s pad, schmoozing and boozing. Here, you can loosely interact with the Miis, giving them food, clothing, and accessories, and they’ll occasionally want to play a mini-game with you. Some are real simple, like grab an item as it falls, and others are more fun, like guessing what a pixelated item ultimately is. As you interact with these Miis, they level up and can gain additional items, songs, and catchphrases, as well as grow to like–I mean that romantically–other Miis.

I love how Tomodachi Life looks and sounds. Let’s start with visuals. We’re all pretty familiar with how Miis look at this point in Nintendo’s history, and despite just how little customization there actually is around them, they always end up looking strikingly similar to their inspirations. Like, my Ron Swanson…it’s uncanny. Speaking of looking like real-life stuff, the pictures of the food you can buy–as well as the hilarious flavor text–really help sell the entries as digital representations that I actually want to purchase. Just ignore that fact that the shopkeeper is a man with a block of wood for a head…

Audio plays a big part, too. There’s not a ton of background music, but what is there is fine. However, it really does all come down to listening to the Miis talk, whether they have a super high pitch or deeply deep growl. And they say whatever you want them to say, granted you can’t get too crass or pervy as Nintendo is wont to censor that kind of stuff. I love hearing the game refer to them by their actual names out loud. In the past, when you get to name a character, like in an RPG, it was always disappointing to never hear other characters audibly call him or her out in a cutscene. Whenever you win or lose a mini-game, an unseen studio audience cheers or boos, respectively, and you can also have Miis perform some karaoke or write your own songs; I’ve not really delved too deep into that stuff, but it seems ripe for silliness.

I’m enjoying my sporadic sessions with Tomodachi Life, though I do find it easy to burn through just about everything it offers in a single session, leaving me to just sit and stare at an apartment building’s windows, waiting for something, anything, to happen. This quirky title is not long for the world, but that’s okay. It’s a great piece of strange and unpredictable side content for Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and it should help fill in the blank days while we all wait–yes, you should be waiting, too–for Fantasy Life this autumn. I don’t know if I’ll write any further on Tomodachi Life, but you never know–it’s so unpredictable, like that time I gave Minerva a bowl of fried rice and she sky-rocketed into space, so delighted in tasting her favorite food. Yeah, it’s bizarre Nintendo at its best.

Oh, and if you want to add me to your island, by all means, show me a great time:

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Finally live however you want this autumn with Fantasy Life

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E3 is the time to drop all those big names, like Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Far Cry 4, Mario Maker, and so on. Evidently, it’s also a great time to let some other news slip in under the cracks of the conference floor and kinda get noticed by everyone there, at least for a moment between playing AAA titles and having their soul sucked dry via those glow-in-the-dark bracelets. For instance, pretty quickly after Nintendo’s digital conference ended yesterday, news popped up that Level-5 and Brownie Brown were bringing Fantasy Life, their RPG/life sim game for the Nintendo 3DS. to North America this fall. More specifically, October.

Eeeeeeeeeeee!

You might remember me writing about Fantasy Life a few times here on Grinding Down. It’s a game I’ve long been pining for, and I’m super excited to see it heading this way. Finally. After something like five years. Must pre-order, and yes, I hope you’re listening, GameStop. I don’t want to end up in another slightly desperate situation like when I couldn’t find a retail copy of Fire Emblem: Awakening for days. Plus, getting the game day one will hopefully show its creators that they made the right decision, and I have to wonder if Bravely Default: Flying Fairy doing so well here played a part in pushing the decision-makers over the edge. Yes, Japan! Give us your strange and weirdly hard-to-market games! Heck, just look at Tomodachi Life as proof that we can handle whatever you got.

A quick reminder of what the game actually is:

“Players embark on the adventure of their dreams as they craft, cast, battle and role-play. The innovative Life system lets players change to one of 12 Life classes at virtually any time to access different abilities. The huge fantasy landscape is filled with surly dark paladins, slick pirate captains and others who share a taste for the unknown.”

Now, there’s one teeny tiny problem. I’m currently playing three life sim games on the Nintendo 3DS–all at the same time. Yup, I’m a master juggler. There’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Disney Magical World, and Tomodachi Life, all moving around each other in a dance of dragons, each one roaring for my attention. Granted, they are not identical, and each does something different than the others, but, more or less, I’m an avatar running around in a world measured by real time, living a life. Fantasy Life seems to merge the former two, and I’m really digging the idea of combat and loot–even if it is a little light and thin–to help mix up the daily checklist of talking to everyone I see and harvesting resource after resource. I suspect by the time Fantasy Life‘s cartridge slips into my Nintendo 3DS I’ll be mostly done with Disney Magical World and Tomodachi Life, and then it’ll just be me having to balance the load of my sad, tumultuous reality, the state of affairs in the animal-infested Arni, and whatever profession I decide to go into in this third fantasy life. Maybe a monk, yearning for internal peace.

But yeah, I’m really stoked to see this news. Shame it wasn’t flashy enough for the actual press conference, but it seemed like everything was to pale in the shadow of Smash Brothers. But how excited am I, you ask? Well, Matt Mason pretty much nailed my reaction:

Anticipating the strangeness that is Nintendo’s Tomodachi Life

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Over the years here on Grinding Down, I’ve gotten further and further away from what other websites might call “preview coverage” of the videogames still to come out. Mainly the ones I’m interested in. Which is, without a doubt, dozens upon dozens. Really, I want to play just about anything, though we all know, based on time, money, and the consoles I do own, that is never going to happen. Instead, I prefer to wait until I can actually get my stumpy little hands on the game and experience it for myself, that way the words I’m writing at least come out with confidence and a certainty that you can’t get by imagining what a game might be like. I mean, I remember thinking Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, based on a few screenshots alone, was going to be awesomely magical, and it was everything but that.

Wait, wait, wait. Before we begin, let me give y’all my early thoughts on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. If two full-fledged games and 492 packs of DLC were not enough to sate your hunger for guns and loot and farming pearls, good news–there’s going to be more Borderlands action for you. It’s set on the moon. A new move lets you “ground pound.” You can play as the wise-cracking Claptrap. I’m just setting myself up for disappointment here, as I’m probably going to pick up regardless because, well, I find the gameplay pretty addicting. There, I came clean.

Moving on. Let’s talk about Tomodachi Life, recently announced today in an unannounced Nintendo Direct to be coming out for the Nintendo 3DS this summer (June 6, 2014 to be exact), right around the same time Animal Crossing: New Leaf dropped last year. It’s the localization version of Tomodachi Collection, a unique mash-up of The Sims playful style of gameplay using your customized Miis for a whole bunch of zany nonsense. I think nonsense is a great descriptor for Tomodachi Life, and if you don’t believe, please do watch that Nintendo Direct again. Eyes open, mind open. As of late, Nintendo’s not been afraid to get weird, and I’m really digging that mentality. However, they need to figure out what they prefer–unwavering loyalty to the classic franchises to the point that they feel unnecessary, such as with Yoshi’s New Island, or mixing things up with oddball titles like NES Remix and Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball.

So, what is Tomodachi Life? Well, from the outside looking in, it’s your own personal soap opera. You fill a town with Miis–ones you’ve created or gotten from StreetPassing and so on–and you give all of these Miis distinct personalities. Digitalized voices too. After that, a lot of what happens in this alternate reality is…well, out of your hands. You and your Miis will go on adventures, fall in love, break hearts, be weird, dream a little dream, sing songs, etc. For those looking for a little more guidance, Miis have specific desires for food, clothes, other accessories, and even relationships, and they will sometimes want to play minigames with you, one of which looks like a turn-based RPG in the same vein as Find Mii. It’s not a day-to-day simulation á la Animal Crossing, more like checking in on your gaggle of Miis and seeing what trouble they get into. I personally hope to fall in love with Samus Aran and woo her away from Iwata.

Just like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Tomodachi Life supports Nintendo’s Image Share tool, which means you can expect my Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages to be constantly updated with the batshit antics my Mii gets up to. This push for social media interactivity makes perfect sense for this kind of game, where it is all about the seemingly unexplainable moments. Now you can just share them with everybody else with the click of a couple of buttons and watch the “likes” roll in.

Lastly, and let this be understood–the existence of Tomodachi Life on U.S. shores is a great thing, as it means there’s still hope for Fantasy Life. You haven’t forgotten about that one, have you? I certainly haven’t.