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Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival (Wii U) Review

by Neal Ronaghan - November 16, 2015, 9:13 pm PST
Total comments: 25

4.5

I went to write a review of the new Animal Crossing game, but then I fell asleep.

The true nature of the first retail Animal Crossing game on Wii U is right in the subtitle. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival is a game that takes the setting and overall vibe of Animal Crossing and blends it with an Amiibo-centric experience that is dominated by a slow, plodding board game that one could loosely describe as a festival. While the writing is clever and the graphics are pretty, even a fun, novel mini-game or two can’t save Amiibo Festival from being anything more than a boring trip through a charming world.

Your first few hours with Amiibo Festival whether you like it or not, are spent with the worst part of the entire game. When you boot up the game, you can do nothing else other than play the board game. And after you play a round of the board game, you can do nothing else other than play the board game again. Even if you set the optional timer to the lowest setting, this intro will take you a minimum of more than an hour before you can even get to any other aspect of the game. That’d be okay if, as apparent from the second playthrough, the board game portion of Amiibo Festival didn’t repeat itself so much.

While the board game has a specific calendar for each of the 12 months, complete with everyone’s favorite Animal Crossing holidays and special events, the actual board is always the same aside from a few token seasonal changes. You can add decoration to it and import your Happy Home Designer homes to pepper the fringes of the board if you really want to, but it’s just a cosmetic tweak. The best part of this is the writing, which is highlighted each turn as you roll the die to see what space you land on. Essentially, it’s a game with nothing else than Monopoly’s Community Chest cards, as each space you land on has a few sentences explaining what your character did to earn or lose Happy Points/Bells. These little write-ups are all clever and funny, but by my second round, I saw repeats. Isabelle and her budding blogger career are really only funny the first time, unfortunately.

In a sense, the board game captures the heart of simple board games: it’s a random, repetitive experience with a focus entirely on luck. Amiibo Festival’s board game mode spits in the face of similar games such as Mario Party, Fortune Street, and Wii Party, which actually take the board game concept and bring it to an interactive space in a meaningful way. The lone other bright spot about this mode is that you don’t actually need four Amiibo to play it; you need at least one Animal Crossing series Amiibo and then every other player can be a generic Villager.

Outside of the board game, Amiibo Festival holds a few other mini-games - all requiring Animal Crossing Amiibo cards (the bundle includes three) - that vary from fun to ho-hum. The highlight is Desert Escape, which is a single-player experience where you take three characters (brought in from cards) and take them through a turn-based adventure as you try to explore an island and build a raft before time runs out. With a variety of different maps and a steady difficulty increase, Desert Escape is easily the best part of the entire game. Even still, much like the board game, a lot of the charming writing gets repeated as you progress through the maps. Eugene and his whimsical limitations are really only funny the first time, unfortunately.

Witty writing and overall charm can only carry a game so far. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival has those two things in spades, but a barren wasteland of interesting gameplay makes it a party game that falls short of even the earlier 2015 disappointment Mario Party 10. Outside of Desert Escape, nothing else in this package is worth your time unless you are the hardest of the hardcore Animal Crossing fan.

Summary

Pros
  • Desert Escape is rad
  • Endearing writing and style
Cons
  • Boring, repetitive gameplay
  • Content lacks variety and fun
  • Takes more than an hour to get to anything good

Talkback

EnnerNovember 16, 2015

I had hoped that this wouldn't be a mis-fire of a filler product. I'm sad that those hopes were misplaced.

Quote from: Enner

I had hoped that this wouldn't be a mis-fire of a filler product. I'm sad that those hopes were misplaced.

Same here. This game made me sad.

SorenNovember 16, 2015

This abomination was deemed better than a by-the-numbers Animal Crossing game on console...ugh.

RidleySariaNovember 16, 2015

One E3 abomination down..... now let's see if Federation Force fares any better.....

Why was I so excited for this game?

relewis2011November 17, 2015

Yikes. Can't say I didn't see this coming, though. Perhaps they should have just made Mario Party 11...or, perhaps Fortune Street U: Feat. Tom Nook and his Happy Villager Friends  :P:

Quote from: RidleySaria

One E3 abomination down..... now let's see if 2016 Game of the Year Federation Force fares any better.....

Fixed that for you. It's getting the time it needs and Next Level hasn't put out a bad game with a Nintendo license yet.

ejamerNovember 17, 2015

I like board games and our family loves Animal Crossing, so we had hope that the variety of different mini-games (many of which seem inspired by classic board games) would make this worth getting. After seeing a couple of reviews, I'm much less interested in the title and unlikely to buy.


Pretty disappointing, since the concept sounds like something that should be right up my alley.

I of course got it because of my wife's dual obsession with both Animal Crossing and Amiibo.  We played it last Friday, and I thought to myself "This would be a lot more fun if my boys were older than 3 and 1, and could play along".  I think this game like most party games has opportunities for maximum fun if you're playing with more than 2 people.


Neal is right - the board game aspect of it plays similarly to several other small child board games, although I'd say it's more like Candyland than Chutes & ladders.  There are certain choices you can make in-game during your turn depending on the "event" that's happening in your turn (buying tarot cards from the medium, as an example, gives you different things i've seen from rolling two dice, to a guaranteed 6 roll, and a few other variables). 


Additionally, each week you can opt to buy turnips from the stalk market, then during your turns that week, there'll be a "trending" price (High, stable, low) for turnps.  Each space on top of it's good or bad indicator will have a turnip price you can sell your stock at.  I leveraged this much more than my wife, and by the last week, had a pretty hefty bell lead, approximately 2,000 bells to my 10,000 bells (although Happy points are the game-winning metric, and she was ahead by a handful).



Then, as the last few days approached, my wife landed on a "good" spot, and the event that triggered gave her 90,000 bells.  90,000 bells!  (for those who don't know, it's 1,000 bells per happy point conversion at the end of the game).  Needless to say, a game I thought I had clinched got swooped away from me in the 3rd to last day, and nothing I landed on was enough.


This is a shallow board game, which isn't inherently a bad thing if you're looking for something simple (my wife likes the game a lot), but it's not what I want in a board game.  The Stalk market portion is the part that interested me most, but it's a small swatch of the entire picture.  I'm especially disappointed that there's only one map with the calendar differences being primarily cosmetic, if this review is true.  The texts & animations are all very fun/funny, and would be enjoyed by any Animal Crossing fan.  Best analogy I can think of is having a cupcake and just eating the frosting - what you ate is sweet & flavorful, but it's short & severely lacking weight that the cupcake would have provided.


Anyone have thoughts on Fortune Street?  This has whet my appetite for other video board games, but something more akin to an actual board game than a MarioParty game.

SorenNovember 17, 2015

Fortune Street is a very good game.

jarodeaNovember 17, 2015

Can't say I'm surprised or upset in any way.

Quote from: Soren

This abomination was deemed better than a by-the-numbers Animal Crossing game on console...ugh.

More like deemed far cheaper and quicker to produce I'd imagine.  Though at this point I prefer this and Happy Home Designer to yet another Animal Crossing that lacks serious changes to the formula.

RidleySariaNovember 17, 2015

Quote from: Shaymin

Quote from: RidleySaria

One E3 abomination down..... now let's see if 2016 Game of the Year Federation Force fares any better.....

Fixed that for you. It's getting the time it needs and Next Level hasn't put out a bad game with a Nintendo license yet.

I beg to differ. Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon was garbage. IMO.

ejamerNovember 17, 2015

Quote from: Soren

Fortune Street is a very good game.

Agreed. Didn't blow my mind, but it's fun and interesting - feels like Monopoly with a lot more that you can do around investments in different locations (even on properties that aren't yours) to make it more interesting. Shame the online portion won't work now.


You might also look into Dokapon Kingdom - after it got reprinted, I think that pricing went down to reasonable levels. Don't spend a fortune on it though.

SpiderPirateNovember 17, 2015

Quote from: RidleySaria

I beg to differ. Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon was garbage. IMO.

A game with an 86% Metacritic based on 74 reviews.  Thank goodness most others didn't share your opinion... that game was very well made.

RidleySariaNovember 17, 2015

Quote from: SpiderPirate

Quote from: RidleySaria

I beg to differ. Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon was garbage. IMO.

A game with an 86% Metacritic based on 74 reviews.  Thank goodness most others didn't share your opinion... that game was very well made.

Yeah I don't worship at the alter of Metacritic.

Quote from: ejamer

Quote from: Soren

Fortune Street is a very good game.

Agreed. Didn't blow my mind, but it's fun and interesting - feels like Monopoly with a lot more that you can do around investments in different locations (even on properties that aren't yours) to make it more interesting. Shame the online portion won't work now.


You might also look into Dokapon Kingdom - after it got reprinted, I think that pricing went down to reasonable levels. Don't spend a fortune on it though.

oof....$41 used is lowest price on Amazon for Dokapon on Wii.  $25 for PS2.  Any discernible difference between the two?

Mop it upNovember 17, 2015

I like party games and also know a few people who do, so I was considering buying this if it turned out to be fun. However, I never introduced them to Fortune Street because I felt it was too luck-based and didn't have enough action (like mini-games), so if the board game part of this is even more luck-based and simple than that, I don't think we'd like playing it. And anything else in the package probably isn't worth the price at that point, even if it's more fun.

Oh well, I still haven't gotten around to picking up Mario Party 10, so I guess I'll just have to stick with the tried-and-true.

kokumakerNovember 17, 2015

I've already bought this to be a Christmas present for my daughter--she LOVES Animal Crossing--but I'm already dreading Christmas day, when she's going to want me to play it with her for hours...

ejamerNovember 17, 2015

Quote from: lolmonade

...
oof....$41 used is lowest price on Amazon for Dokapon on Wii.  $25 for PS2.  Any discernible difference between the two?

I'd pay $25 for it, probably not $40 unless you have a couple of dedicated friends to play with locally.
Not sure about differences between the two - don't recall anything that would clearly make Wii a better option (other than backwards compatibility with a console more recent than PS2, and I think widescreen support).


Be sure to read reviews before buying. Dokapon Kingdom is pretty cool but feels very random initially. That randomness tends to even out over time - and you'll have plenty of time because it's a long game - but will always be a factor in deciding the winner. There is also a lot of griefing intended in the game, with the title on the back calling it the "Friendship Destroying Game". If that type of camaraderie doesn't appeal to you, then Fortune Street is a better bet.

AVNovember 17, 2015

Considering how much fun the island mini games were in new leaf I expected allot more from this title.

ForgottenPearlNovember 17, 2015

This review didn't even mention the quiz mode.  Are the only modes the board game, desert escape, and the quizzes?

Quote from: ForgottenPearl

This review didn't even mention the quiz mode.  Are the only modes the board game, desert escape, and the quizzes?

There are other mini-games, all using the cards, but honestly? I didn't mention any of them specifically in the review because none of them stood out. Desert Escape is the only one I actually wanted to play for more than the purposes of the review.

Mop it upNovember 17, 2015

That actually brings up a question: Do you need to buy more of the cards to play all of the minigames/content? I'm still a little confused as to what's available right out of the box and what, if anything, requires additional amiibo and cards.

PhilPhillip Stortzum, November 17, 2015

Quote from: RidleySaria

Quote from: SpiderPirate

Quote from: RidleySaria

I beg to differ. Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon was garbage. IMO.

A game with an 86% Metacritic based on 74 reviews.  Thank goodness most others didn't share your opinion... that game was very well made.

Yeah I don't worship at the alter of Metacritic.

You don't need to worship Metacritic to see that most reviewers liked the game. Not just reviewers, but what is important to me, other players. It's fine if you didn't like the game, though. :)

ejamerApril 05, 2016

So a recent sale convinced me to buy this game - it was half price, and I'm a sucker for the Animal Crossing Amiibo figures.  A few early thoughts?


Meh.  Glad I didn't pay more than half price, and feel like the package was just barely justifiable even then. 


The board game portion of Amiibo Festival just isn't good. It looks pretty and is a "relaxing" experience, and there is some potential with different events and the ability to use cards to affect your movement, but there aren't enough active decisions to keep players involved or engaged in what happens.


On the up side, there is some customization available. If you own Amiibo cards, you can get those villagers to move into the town that makes up your board. This makes you identify more with the game, especially if you've play Happy Home on 3DS to customize the houses that will appear, but winning/losing remains almost entirely a function of random chance.  Also worth noting that each Animal Crossing Amiibo figure available as an avatar will offer a slightly different "story" based on their in-game personalities - so the events and actions you see will vary depending on which character you play as.


I've just started to unload the additional content and mini-games... but expectations are low based on all the negative feedback that I've read online.




One comment in particular that I wanted to bring up relates to how family-friendly (or not) this game is. My hope was that Amiibo Festival would be a good way to have my kids introduced to the Animal Crossing world. They have seen and "played" the actual game on Wii, but it's just complicated enough that they need constant assistance - especially with all the reading. Amiibo Festival is easy enough to play, but also misses the mark by requiring constant reading that is beyond what my kids can handle right now. This is a huge disappointment to me; if the game was voiced, it would be a delightful experience for them to play with or without active supervision.

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WiiU

Game Profile

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival Box Art

Genre Party/Parlor
Developer Nintendo
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival
Release Nov 13, 2015
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Dōbutsu no Mori: Amiibo Festival
Release Nov 21, 2015
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival
Release Nov 20, 2015
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+
aus: Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival
Release Nov 21, 2015
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral
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