We never asked for it, and we certainly never wanted but here it is, we have Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival. I have got to say after having played Mario Party 10 earlier this year the idea of using Amiibo’s in a board game setting really lost all appeal, the mode we received in Mario Party 10 was just dull and repetitive. But yet here I am again giving another go to an idea I condemned, but the question is did Nintendo learn or give us a game that is even harder to swallow? It is a tough question to ask but one I intend to answer with amiibo Festival.
First I really must state my position when it comes to Animal Crossing, I have never really gotten the appeal of this franchise. I understand the adorable charm of the characters, but the gameplay of the standard games has been tiresome to me, I have just never considered Animal Crossing to be much fun. This of course leads me to amiibo Festival, while it would have been easy for me to simply condone the game because of the brand I had to give this game the benefit of the doubt as it is something entirely different.
Interestingly it is the Animal Crossing nature that acts as the game’s biggest draw in, everything about this game is adorable from the standard characters to the world. Animal Crossing has charm to spare and this is one of the things that makes this hard to criticize, at nearly every space you approach on the board there is some throwback to the franchise that has its own charm. The thing is charm is not enough, I appreciate the vibe the game gives off with its adorable setting but I can’t say I was ever having fun.
If I have learned anything from the selected Mario Party games I have played over the years a board game like amiibo Festival needs substance and this is seldom seen. In fact, I often felt more like I was going through the motions of each round, I would watch my opponents have their turn see what they did and then eventually get to my round, I would tap my Amiibo to the gamepad and my character would move. Each turn is very much rinse and repeat and I barely contributed to what was going on in the game, each round was basically tap the Amiibo press the A button and move on, if fun was here in some form I could not find it.
Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival plays out like a board game, you roll a dice each round to determine your movements and try to land on good spots. In the end the winner is determined by Happy Points which are collected throughout the board along with money, yes you know the saying money can’t buy you happiness or love well apparently it can now according to amiibo Festival. This is about as complex as the game gets, you spend a whole month (one round equals a day) making your way around the board and trying to attain the necessary items to win the game and there is little more to it.
On occasion special events do happen where a certain character will turn up and do something that could potentially help or hinder you, most of the time the characters are just more annoying than helpful particularly when you have to sit through pointless annoying dialogue. On certain rounds these events can actually be sighs relief as even briefly they can shake up the tiresome gameplay, but in part they just don’t stick around long enough. Certain special events do change things for an entire day where all spaces on the board will come in to effect dealing with a certain event, one of the ones I came across was the fishing tourney where you landed on a space and would catch a fish, you would then be given its size and at the end of the round win points and money based on who’s is biggest. The biggest problem here is that it seems to all come down to luck, it never seemed to matter what I did it never seemed like I controlled what happened, it felt like tapping the Amiibo was a simple formality just to progress the game.
The board game experience offered in Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival is mostly dull, rarely anything exciting goes on and this makes the whole experience tiresome, each round I pretty much went through the repetitive motions. It is very much tap, move, and watch opponent and repeat, though there is at least one instance during the core experience where the game does become livelier. I actually looked forward to when the game rolled around to Sunday’s, on this day I could purchase turnips which acted as an investment, your goal with these was to try and sell them for the best possible value much like a stock market. Each space would have its own value and it was your job to elect to sell or hold out and hope you land on a better price, you then could make or profit or loss which would contribute to the end game. In these moments I actually felt like I had some more power and like my overall decisions mattered, as I learned each decision could be a positive or a severe negative, much like the real world stock market turnip prices also went up and down. Sometimes by day you would see the prices take a severe drop while on another the prices could fluctuate and you had to hope for the space that would offer you the most back, this feature I really liked even if it short lived and only a minor piece of enjoyment in an otherwise dull experience.
This is one of the more boring board game experience’s I have had and it really felt lacking of any real substance, I am forced to look back at Mario Party 10 and the one thing that could have made a difference would have been little mini games. Rather than playing a board game where I was bored for an hour because the game just drags on mini games break up the monotony and offer a chance to feel like you matter to the overall experience, even if they weren’t anything special they might helped and even offered something a bit more Amiibo focused.
But speaking of mini games it wasn’t like these were anything special either, at best the minigames I stumbled across which are separate from the core experience offered minor distractions. These were simple and again came down to luck, it was rare I ever felt like I was in control, minigames are played by using Amiibo cards and in the main mini game I played it was your goal to try to drop your character onto a moving island while collecting points. You played this minigame by simply tapping your Amiibo card and releasing it and then it all came down to luck from there, but while these may be nothing special I still wish these weren’t offered separately and instead were part of the main game.
If there is one thing I can give Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival it is credit, the game actually manages to capture its core franchise in spirit and in just how fun it is, meaning it is not fun. Rather than give fans the core Animal Crossing game they wanted Nintendo has brought us a worse version of Mario Party where the lights are on and no one’s home. The thing is it is rare that Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival offers any enjoyment but clearly the target audience for this game is not adults, the simplistic design is really more built towards children and maybe they might enjoy this but for me there is nothing truly great here that makes this worth playing.