Tomodachi Collection

4 02 2010

Hey everyone, Laserwolf here to tell you about a game that I enjoy playing in Japanese.  The design is very similar to Sims.  However, since I have never played Sims (seriously) I can’t tell you which I think is better.  In any case, this game is a good time waster and a fun way to study Japanese.  The game is currently not available in English, but since DS systems are region-free, you can play the Japanese game should you be so inclined.  I have left detailed explanations of what I consider to be the most important things in the game so anyone studying Japanese should not be too intimidated.

Game name: Tomodachi Collection (トモダチコレクション) “Friend Collection”

Genre: life simulation

System: Nintendo DS

Player(s): one

Extra features: system allows linkups with Wii to interchange Mii characters; system allows linkups with other DS’s to allow Miis to travel to friends’ systems.

Getting started:

The first thing Tomodachi Collection tells you to do is create a Mii of yourself.  This is going to be you in the game.  Once you’ve made yourself, you are free to create dozens of other characters, based on people you know in real life, your favorite actors, or someone you just made up.

You create Miis by selecting from different options – you get to pick face shape, eyes, hair, glasses and facial hair (or lack thereof), height, and body type (thin or wide).  You also can choose between pre-made voices or create your own custom voice (using different variables) for characters.  You choose their personalities based on several characteristics including how serious, how normal, and how fast they are.  You also select their personal information such as name, birthday, blood-type, favorite color, and their relationship to you in real life (parent, sibling, lover, friend).

Now the fun begins!  Miis interact with each other.  They get hungry, they want to take baths, they make friends, they fall in love, they break up, they have fights, they want new clothes and interiors, and they want to play games with you.

Everything the Miis say is also subtitled at the bottom of the screen, which is great for times when the volume is off.

Hungry Miis:

Miis will tell you when they want something.  It will look like they have a scribble in a speech bubble that you can see from the outside of their apartment.  Once you go inside, you can find out what they want.  Miis will sometimes say a fly has got into their apartment and they want you to kill it for them.  Miis will sometimes say their back itches and they want you to scratch it.  They will sometimes want new clothing or new apartment interiors.  In the case that they want something, there is often no way of knowing in advance what exactly they want unless they are specific with their requests.  They might tell you “I want clothes that you can play sports in” or just “I want new clothes.”  If given a general request, you may end up buying something for them that they don’t like.  You will be rewarded for giving them things they like with money.  The more they like something, the more satisfied they will be, and they will level up.  At each level up, you will give them a present from a list of options.  After level 22 (when you have given them everything), they will start giving you coins at each level.

One thing Miis want is food.  Sometimes they will be specific – “I want to eat ramen”.  Sometimes they will just say they want food.  The food system, like clothing and interiors, is based on the Miis’ personal tastes.  You cannot know in advance what a Mii will like.  However, as time goes by, you may see patterns in what specific Miis like and dislike.  For example, some Miis like or dislike foods of a particular category.  There are Miis that love desserts, and there are Miis that will dislike almost any sweet thing you give them.  Each Mii has one favorite food and one food they absolutely hate.  If you find their favorite food, they will do a dance for you.  If you find their least favorite, they will choke.  It’s useful to know what characters like and dislike, because their satisfaction meter will decrease if you do things they dislike, and they will never advance levels.

Keep in mind that you don’t actually have to wait until they tell you they’re hungry to give them food.  You can see for yourself where their hunger meter is and give them things at any time.  However, they won’t eat the same thing twice in a row.  You can also give Miis clothes and interiors whether or not they ask.

Items such as food, clothes, and interiors will have daily specials and catalogs.  Anything you buy from the daily special list will automatically be added to the catalog, but if you don’t buy the item before the next day comes around, it will not be added.  Try to buy new items when you see them.

Raising satisfaction without giving presents:

Every time you satisfy a Mii you will also get money, so do what you can.

One easy way is scratching the Miis’ heads with the stylus.  It will only give points and money once daily but it’s a surefire way.

When you give Miis new clothes, have them turn around.  There will often be a tag on the clothes.  If you click on it, they will ask you to cut it off for them.  Instant points.

Sometimes you should click on Miis’ faces.  There are occasionally things sticking to them, such as grains of rice, ladybugs, or leaves.  If there is something stuck to them, they will ask you to take it off.  Usually there is nothing stuck to them, but they will often blush if you stare, or practice winking, so clicking on their faces every once in a while is amusing in and of itself.

Other items:

Sometimes your Miis will get sick and you will have to give them either stomach medicine or cold medicine, depending on what they need.  You will also have things such as bath sets, travel tickets, frying pans, and cameras that you can give your Miis.  My advice is saving the travel tickets for after couples break up – a single trip will get rid of all of their depression in a fell swoop.  As for the others, you should keep them on hand should they be requested, since you cannot buy them.  You can only get these other items if Miis give them to you.

When Miis level up:

You can pick from a list of prizes when Miis level up.  One is a new interior.  Another thing you can do is create a phrase for the Mii to say.  Yet another is items – there are eight items ranging from feather dusters to Wiis.  But by far the best prize is a song.

There are six different song styles.  I say “style” because the song is by no means a set thing.  The music of the song is all set and unchangeable, but you have the option to change every single word in the song.  In order to keep the melody consistent, you will only be able to exchange words for other words with the same number of syllables, from a list of given words.  However, you can create some really bizarre songs.  All the food and item words are available as song words (such as shortcake, ramen, stuffed bear, etc).  You are allowed to use your Miis names and phrases in the songs as well.  You can create custom lyrics that the Miis remember or you can tell the Miis to forget the lyrics you make.

Miis will sing songs they know when they take baths.  One thing to beware of – if you gave your Miis funny voices, they may not be very good singers!

Mii interaction:

Sadly, you do not choose who your characters friends are or who they fall in love with or anything about their relationships.  The Miis you create will soon show that their personalities may not be anything at all like the real-life people you have designed them to look like.  Nor can you choose their tastes in food, clothing, or anything else.  You can, however, give them advice.

Miis will tell you they want to become friends with other Miis.  At that time, they will want your advice on how to approach that Mii.  Should they have a serious conversation or a funny one?  Should they compliment the other person?  You select an option from a few choices.  They have their encounter and either they become friends or they don’t.

When Miis make friends they will automatically start off as a general liking.  As time goes by, they may realize they are not compatible with their friends, or realize that they are really compatible and become best friends.  You do not get to choose who they pick to be their best friends.  Sometimes, though, they will ask you for advice on how good of a friend someone is.  For example, “I think I get along with Naruto really well, what do you think?” or “I think Naruto and I aren’t very compatible, what do you think?”  In these situations, you can somewhat manipulate their feelings.  You can either tell them honestly based on their liking meter or you can say they are actually getting along great or horribly, even when they are not.  The Mii will believe you, so their meter will go up or down based on your answer.  It will not change drastically, but you can affect how satisfied they are in their relationships with other Miis.

Sometimes Miis will have fights.  Once the fight is over, they will be angry.  If you want them to make up, you have to calm them down first, and then they will go apologize.  If the apology is successful, they will stay friends, but sometimes the other Mii won’t forgive them, and they will become depressed.  You can also tell them not to apologize in the first place.

Miis will always let you know when they have a crush on another Mii.  Looking from outside their apartment windows, you will see a heart mark in a bubble.  Once you go into their room, they will have little marks floating around that say “moya” and then they will tell you they have feelings for so-and-so, and they want to confess their love.  That is when they give you the option to say “go ahead” or “no”.  If you tell them yes, they will ask you how they ought to do it (honestly, romantically, etc) and where (the park, the roof of the apartment building, etc).  If you tell them no, they will want to know a reason (that person is already in a relationship, it’s a bad match, it’s too soon, etc).  They will not confess if you tell them no.  Sometimes when they confess, they will be rejected, and become depressed.  However, sometimes they will begin a relationship with another Mii.

When Miis have relationships, they start out with a general liking, which either goes up or down (or back and forth between the two) with time.  If a Mii’s meter has been unsatisfied for a long time, they will request to break up with the other Mii.  You can tell them to go ahead with it or re-think it.  If you tell them to break up, they will.  If you tell them to re-think it, the two that are in the relationship will have a talk which will sometimes result in a continued relationship and sometimes result in a breakup.  On the other extreme, some Miis will gradually like each other more and more until their status says “want to marry”.  After this happens, there will come a time when their feelings go to “fully satisfied” and once again you will see a heart mark from outside their window.  When you go inside, they will tell you that they have decided to marry, and they will give you an album which doubles as a slide show of “photos” from their relationship and the game credits.  This is followed by a short honeymoon and they will give you a present from their trip.

Married Miis are just like dating Miis in that their satisfaction meter goes up and down.  Sometimes married Miis will be so happy they spend almost all their time together.  But other times, they will tell you they want a divorce.  Just like dating Miis, even if you tell them to rethink it, they may split up.

Depressed Miis:

Miis will be depressed after a breakup or if they are not forgiven after a fight.  It may become quite expensive to cheer them up with various presents.  A good bet is using their favorite food or a travel ticket.

Playing games with Miis:

The Miis want to play games with you when there is a green bubble visible from outside their apartments.  The games that they want to play are usually real Japanese games.

Atchi muite hoi (Hey, look over there!): There are two kinds of this game.  One is janken (rock-paper-scissors) based and one is without.  The object of the game is to make the other person look in the direction you are pointing.  You lose if you look in the direction the other person points.

Daruma-san ga koronda (The daruma [a kind of Japanese doll] fell over): This game is basically Red Light Green Light.  The Mii will turn their back to you and say “daruma-san ga“.  During this time it is ok to walk forward.  When they say koronda, they will turn around to look at you, and if they catch you walking you will lose the game.  If you touch them when their back is turned, you win.

Shiri moji quiz (Butt letter quiz): This game is hard unless you know hiragana really well.  The characters turn around and write words with the movement of their butts.  You will have four answer choices.  They will do it several times and you have to get each answer correct in order to win.

Silhouette quiz: You are shown a black silhouette of one of the items in the game, and you can select from a list of three choices.  This game also has several rounds and you have to get each answer right in order to win.

Card-matching game: There are six pairs of pictures on cards upside down, and you turn over two cards at a time to find matching pairs.  If you can match all the cards (making fewer than five mistakes), you win.  Otherwise, you lose.

Baba-nuki (Old Maid): You start with one card in your hand.  The Mii starts with two cards.  The object is to select the card from the Mii’s hand that matches your card.  The joker is the “Old Maid”.  If you take the joker from the Mii’s hand, the Mii has a chance to take a card from your hand.  If they take the card that matches theirs, they win.  If they take the joker back from you, you have another chance to make a pair with your card.

If you lose a game, the Mii will thank you for playing, and present you with a consolation prize – a box of tissue or a roll of toilet paper.  If you win a game, the Mii will show you three boxes: small, medium, and large.  They will give you only one prize, so chose which box you would like.  The size of the box does not necessarily effect the prize’s value, as the small box might have a postage stamp or a diamond ring.  The large box might have a bonsai tree, a carved wooden bear, or any number of things.  There are many possible items.  The benefit of playing the games is that you will have the option of selling the items you win as prizes.  This can come in handy if you want to buy something ridiculous, such as a solid gold interior.

Dreams:

One of my favorite parts of the game.  When Miis are sleeping, they will often have dreams.  You can view their dreams by clicking on the dream bubbles (if there is only a Z in the bubble they are not dreaming, just sleeping).  Viewing a dream when the Mii is sleeping during the day doesn’t do very much.  Viewing a dream at night or in the morning, when the lights are out and the Mii is in bed, will allow you to get various items.  Some of these items are clothes which cannot be bought in the clothing shop, so keep an eye out for dreamers.

My personal favorite dreams involve “Mii Rangers” (they strongly resemble Power Rangers).  Mii Ranger dreams will give you different colored ranger suits as clothing.  Collect all five.

You can view dreams as you please with the hypnotism set.  Take it out, hypnotize a Mii, and you can select any previously viewed dream to re-watch.

Another thing you can do with people sleeping, if they are in bed with lights out, is draw on their faces while they sleep.  Unfortunately, they always have clean faces in the morning, no matter what you draw.

The fountain:

The town fountain is a very useful feature of the game!  Once daily you may collect rent from your Miis, so be sure to go.  If you go back again, at different times of the day, there will be certain events.  Sometimes there is nothing happening at the fountain, but there are occasional live music events and food stands.  There are regular English conversation classes at the fountain twice daily.  What could be more entertaining than watching your Mii characters butcher English pronunciation?

My honest opinion:

I think this game is a pretty good time waster.  I am not usually a fan of games without clear objectives.  However, this game is entertaining enough to keep me playing it for long periods of time.  Whether you are saving money to buy a mummy costume, or biding time to see if two characters will get married, or creating new Miis, this game can keep you interested.  The only things about it which seem seriously odd to me – gum is listed as a food, and people don’t move in together after they get married.  You may also be puzzled about all fruit being listed as dessert, but that is a common Japanese mindset.

On a personal note, my Mii character got married to Naruto a while back (hence I used the name as an example earlier) and they are very happy together.

Rating: 4/5

Additional reasons to like or dislike the game:

I personally find the sheer variety to be entertaining.  Interiors that look like normal rooms is one thing, but you also get room choices with themes such as the face of the moon, daikon (Japnaese radish) patch, underwater, dungeon, Christmas, and more.  The variety in clothes is just as fun.  Besides the normal everyday wear, you can get different school and sports uniforms, and many costumes – dinosaur, cat, teddy bear, clown, fairy, Peter Pan, mummy, Santa, etc.  You can have lots of fun just playing around with these two things.  The only thing that seems to lack variety is the choices of components of the Miis themselves – you are limited to very few hair colors, face shapes, noses, and so on.  It seems odd that they would not offer more basic things.  You also cannot buy furniture or anything like that, but you change the whole theme of the room when you change interiors.

One thing about the game that strikes me is that the relationships between the characters are all incredibly shallow.  I don’t know what else to expect from a game like this, but it seems ridiculous how easily they get mad at each other and how often they refuse to forgive one another.  The characters have shallow dreams as well.  They often say something to you when you enter their rooms.  One of the things they say is something along the lines of “If only I can just enjoy today I will be happy.”  It just seems like such an uninspired thought to me.  Not only this, but the fact that the whole premise of the game is making people happy by giving them presents is such a flawed concept.  Especially the fact that in this game, someone who has just gotten a divorce would be able to get over it quickly if you just gave them their favorite food.  I am glad that the friends I have in the real world are a million times better than the Miis in this game.

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