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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Tomodachi Life.

TranscriptEdit

It is of course a popular understanding that there is no such thing as bad publicity, a theory best tested by pasting a huge blown-up photo of someone's knob along the side of Sydney Harbour Bridge with the caption, "Guess where I've been? Here's a hint: You were born from it." But it's a sad fact that the only reason I even picked up Tomodachi Life was because the Internet collectively swam right up its butthole for being a life sim that doesn't allow homosexual relationships, which was officially awarded the daily prize for "Cause of All the Evil in the World" before somebody noticed that Assassin's Creed: Unity didn't have a female protagonist and Ubisoft collectively shat itself into a mic.

If you ask me, there's way more mileage in the Tomodachi Life outrage. You can argue over how much work it would realistically have been to staple jugs and a couple of pigtails to an existing male character, but at least it would have been some work, whereas allowing any character to rub themselves on any other character would have been less work than exclusively restricting the drive shaft to the inlet valve, if you see what I mean.

If a game like, say, The Witcher wants to have a relationship system but slap the player's knuckles whenever they reach for the sausage platter, then fair enough. Even in branching fiction, the creator is entitled to declare some things to be out of character. Tomodachi Life, meanwhile, encourages you to populate it with the Miis of real-life friends and family, and to disallow same-sex relationships in it is to tacitly deny that they exist in reality or at least to assume that no gay person or friend of a gay person could possibly be playing it 'cos they're all off playing their special gay games for gay people that come in pink boxes adorned with chest hair.

Admittedly, the game is so rabidly family-friendly that it prefers the term "special someone" to anything as racy as "girlfriend" or "fuck-buddy," but it's rather coy for a game in which it's still entirely possible to create a Mii with what looks like a flaccid cock for a face. You can cheat the system and add a gay friend by lying to the game about their gender, since gender does not restrict appearance or clothing options, but there's no way of knowing whether they'll shack up with the Mii of their real-life partner or with the man with a cock for a face.

Tomodachi Life is something I can't exactly review as a game. The best I can do is speculate on the purpose for its existence. It's on 3DS and is vaguely trying to muscle in on Animal Crossing's racket, except unlike Animal Crossing, you decide who comes and lives in your little bubble and very little else. Miis are added to the population as fast as you can come up with them, so I added myself and all my friends, but I figured a real community requires more than three people (ha ha, I'm lonely). So I populated the rest of the apartments with characters from my novels and indie games, as well as all the Miis that were already on my 3DS, which should explain the presence of Senor Koquonfaes and Lady Hitler.

I gotta tell you though, Senor Koquonfaes ended up being the fucking Man! He had by far and away the most friends and everyone was asking to be introduced to him. He was like the Fonz from Happy Days, but with a cock instead of a face. Interestingly, of all the hotties that were fighting to catch his jab's eye, he ended up marrying X, the secret agent from my second novel, Jam. I guess only she could be trusted to keep the terrible secret of what he has instead of a cock.

So once you've populated the island, your residents start making requests to be fed or clothed. "Errh, I want basic survival needs", whine whine whine! And doing so raises their happiness level. Or you can not bother and leave them wearing sackcloth and sucking the radiator for nourishment and their happiness won't go down. The only thing that seems to make them sad is being rejected socially. See that, Nintendo? That is how you made the gays feel! But you know what, it may be insulting to deny the existence of gay people and group them with pixies and jabberwockies, but I can't think how it could be more insulting than the way the game depicts people who do exist, as a sort of high-functioning plankton with a face.

Remove any comparisons to The Sims from your mind. You have zero ability to meaningfully direct the lives or activities of your little pals, but neither, it seems, do they. Left to their own devices, they are mostly content to lie on the carpet trying to lick their own nostrils until they decide the time has come to make friends with one of their neighbours, and if that all turns out well, you may in future see two people lying on the carpet trying to lick their own nostrils.

Let's not dismiss the relationship system, for it is one of the few ways we are granted agency. When someone wants to make a friend or take a friendship to the next level, they must request your approval like you're the stern overseeing patriarch of a Jonestown-style death cult. Maybe you'll want to seize the opportunity to finally enforce your will and make your community completely racially segregated to appease Lady Hitler, but personally I just allowed whatever, except when a love triangle arose between two strapping young fellows and an obese elderly woman which I swiftly put a stop to. I'd given these characters enough shit in their respective works without letting some game turn them into granny-fiddlers too.

The only time I felt anything close to investment was during the marriage proposal mini-game, mostly because getting two of your little buggers hitched is the only thing that carries the slightest sense of achievement, lessened somewhat by the knowledge that it is one that the game has essentially handed to you at random.

Animal Crossing did the same thing: each day, a new selection of random collectables, wonderful trophies to mark your exceptional achievement of having done fuck-all but turn the game on today. But at least there were options as to what you did with them: put them in your house, donate to the museum, bury them alongside the remains of the reindeer-man who just had to ask for a peach one too many fucking times! Tomodachi Life merely rewards you with random objects it found in a dumpster, and your options are to either sell them or close the DS and toss it into a vat of boiling prison wine.

But it's alright. I have now figured out what the purpose of this game is: the same as those paper fortune-tellers you used to make at school. There's a special mode where you enter embarrassing questions such as, "Who loves a clammy minge?", whereupon a random selection of islanders put their hands up, allowing you confront the real-life inspiration of the islander and go, "Look, you love clammy minges!", leaving them shamed and exposed until they reply, "No, I don't", and thus torpedo the debate.

I would recommend a sock puppet over Tomodachi Life. They're equally as fulfilling and you can make them as gay as you please. Maybe the Streetpass features make the difference, but sadly I got no Streetpass hits at all. Apparently I'm the only person in Brisbane who bases their purchases on homophobia.

AddendaEdit

  • Fun for all the family: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Also Mr. Wonderful from Mogworld ended up marrying Drylda from Mogworld, which was all kinds of weird
  • Got nothing against Nintendo as long as they don't do it in front of my kids

ScreenshotsEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2

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