What could be more fun and adorable than a game about a town full of cute little critter people? A game about a town full of cute little critter people that is also a board game.
This is the essence of Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival, which aims to combine the charm and character of the long running Animal Crossing series with the mini-game style and addictiveness of the Mario Party franchise.
Which begs the question of how well this combination works and, even more importantly, if the combination succeeds in being greater than the sum of its parts.
The answer to the first question is a resounding yes. The second: not really.
The basic premise of Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival involves scanning your own Animal Crossing amiibo (the bundle comes with Isabelle and Digby in North America with the option to buy more separately) and any other like amiibo into the game as well.
If you lack enough people and/or amiibos to create a full party of four, AI controlled players will fill in any gaps. There’s no online multiplayer so you’re limited to the number of people immediately available to you if you wanted to avoid playing against the obviously cheating computer.
Said players are whisked away to a board game type environment in which they must play one full game, lasting for a month of in-game time. Each round, in which every player is able to roll the die (or rarely dice) and move around the board, counts as a single day.
Playing for the full month takes about one and a half to two hours, so players have the option to set a time limit to expedite the process. It’s difficult to judge which option is better; playing the full month is certainly much longer and can be more tedious but it also offers the more complete and fairer experience in the end.
The conditions for victory is to possess the most Happy Points by the end of the month. This is accomplished by ideally landing on squares that result in positive events occurring, netting you Happy points, Bells or both.
Bells, like in the actual Animal Crossing games, are the main currency and gathering them can be a useful venture as they are automatically converted to points at the end of the month. Bells can be acquired by simply landing on the right squares, by the effects of certain effect cards or by a wise and lucky investment in turnips.
Turnip investment is an art of its own as the player must decide whether to purchase turnips that week, how many to buy and when/how many to sell. There are plenty of factors that can influence your investment’s success, such as the current price you can sell them for based on the number shown on the square you land on.
There’s also the general pricing trend which randomly switches and ranges from unstable (high risk/high profit market) to stable (low risk/low profit market) to crashed (breaking even is the best result).
Coupled with the fact that you have only until the end of the week to sell and you have a surprisingly deep money-making mechanic in the board game.
Another aspect to amiibo Festival that makes it so interesting are the random events that can take place in a given month of gameplay.
These events can bestow special Tarot cards that result in week-long positive or negative bonuses to your character, give you special cards that simulate a die roll, provide all characters with a extra die to roll for that day, dinners that (if the proper ingredients are gathered) give all players bonus Bells and/or Happy points, cause players to lose Bells if they’re unlucky enough to land on a certain square and many more.
At the end of that month, all Bells are converted to Happy points and the latter is tallied to decide the winner. After that, those points are saved to the amiibo figurine(s) and are counted as experience points which can be used to aggregate a variety of items to decorate your town with.
Another bonus is gotten after the first time you play a game: you can from that point on choose which month to play in. The month affects the time of year which, in turn, affects the weather and the randomly occurring events for that month. This lends a good amount of replayability to the title.
In addition to the board game, you can also decorate your town by adding houses and other features such as windmills and lighthouses. The former brings in new residents and therefore more special events during a board game while the latter opens up new routes through the town.
You can also unlock and play minigames either by using an amiibo card (several come with the game’s bundle) or with a Happy Ticket purchased using Happy points. There are eight minigames in total and they’re quite addictive in their simplicity.
The deepest minigame out of these by far is the Desert Island Escape, as it’s deep and engaging extra game that puts a unique spin on the board game formula found in the main game. Essentially three players, each with a different power, must band together to escape from a desert island in a certain amount of days.
Each day the team searches the island for food and materials needed to build a life raft; every night you must choose an explored area to camp in. Victory is obtained by completing construction of the latter.
However, you can lose in two situations: if you run out of time or if you run out of food. Characters can also be hurt and will skip their turn when this occurs — having medicine on board, however, fixes this issue. If you win, your ranking will be displayed in the game.
Unfortunately, that’s all there is to do in amiibo Festival — a shame since the content it does have is quite fun on its own.
In fact, the major flaw in the title is the lack of content; a similar issue found with the recent Mario Party 10.
Even with the two adorable amiibo involved, it’s difficult to properly recommend this title to those who aren’t Animal Crossing or party-game genre fans, especially without online play or additional modes. Minigames will keep you busy for a bit but not for more than a few hours or so at the most.
Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival is a fun and entertaining party game featuring cute little animal people (or people-people) you can play with your family. And it doesn’t hurt that the title itself is free to download, although you need at least one amiibo to play the game.
If you have needs that lie outside of those above listed properties you may be better off searching for another title altogether.