- JP release: 19th March 1999
- PAL: release: N/A
- NA release: N/A
- Developer: Takara
- Publisher: Takara
- N64 Magazine Score: N/A
The “classic” board game The Game of Life is very popular in Japan. The board game is incredibly basic as you roll, move and do what the square you land on says, with the biggest choice you get to make is choosing what career you do – for the most part, though, it’s fancy Snakes & Ladders.
When it comes to making a video game version of The Game of Life, the Japanese publisher Takara haven’t just made a digital recreation of the board game, but have instead properly adapted the game to take advantage of being a video game.
Without needing to fit within the constraints of the board, the spaces twist through a large landscape of farms, countryside and cities. There are different size board for different game lengths, and you can also create your own out of different themed sections. The method of moving is unfortunately still the same – spin a spinner and move that many spaces, but it at least does something with it.
At the start of the game, you get to create an avatar to represent you, with a decent amount of options. If you can’t be bothered with this, then you can select a pre-made one. When the game start, you start as a child, with the initial avatar to suit the age you’re supposed to be at that point of the game, up to an elderly version of it. It’s a nice little touch to visualise the game more.
When you land on spaces, you get amusing little animations showing the event happening (and as I didn’t get a repeat in a game, there must be a lot). Sometimes you also get to make a choice as to how your react to a situation. These will then alter one of your four stats (which affect bonuses at the end of the game) or your money. It solves the problem of multiple people getting the same event.
This version also has “game” tiles, with a small selection of minigames to play. These are fine, but nothing outstanding, with a lot of focus on the strange aliens prominent throughout the game, with arse-UFOs. Winning or losing will affect stats and money. They can be played with one controller (so you can do a full 4 player game with just one controller), which is a nice touch for a game like this.
Getting married and having children is also massively expanded upon for the video game. When you land on a romance square, you enter the dating minigame and can visit a place to meet new people, ask someone you’ve met to go on a date, propose or work on improving yourself. It’s an interesting way to expand upon it, but as it requires landing on a lot of exact squares, difficult to do. In a “short” 2+ hour game, only one person managed by taking a chance and proposing with a 50% chance on the final romance square of the board.
When you reach the end of the map, all your assets and achievements are converted into money. From then on, when it’s your turn, you spin the spinner and collect money, which is a really boring way to end the final part of the game, especially as it can still take a while before others reach the end as well. You can also risk all your money by gambling in the hopes of getting more.
At the end, bonus money is rewarded based on categories, such as all the individual stats and a winner is the person with the most money.
At the end, each player get judged based on their morality of their choices during events, which determines the kind of afterlife you get. It’s a fun little ending to the whole thing.
This version doesn’t turn the game into a good game (it’s still 95% spinning and not deciding on anything), but it’s nice to see attempts to turn a board game into more of a video game, utilising what can be done in the digital format that would be a pain for the actual board game.
Remake or Remaster?
New versions are being made, with the latest on the Switch. An English version would be intriguing to see.
Official Ways to get the game
There’s no official way to play The Game of Life 64
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