A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival is a board/party game based on Nintendo's Animal Crossing franchise. You can play as cute animal-based characters who want to have fun, help others, and go on adventures. Though the gameplay is pretty tame, there's an option to get in a fight with some enemies, such as snakes and centipedes, although you can also run away, as well. Parents should know the game requires those amiibo characters, sold separately, which look like little action figures, as well as optional amiibo Animal Crossing cards.
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What's it about?
What do you get when you combine the cute characters in the Animal Crossing franchise with a digital board game? The answer is Nintendo's ANIMAL CROSSING: AMIIBO FESTIVAL. This Nintendo Wii U exclusive game aims to deliver a new way to play with your favorite Animal Crossing characters as amiibo action figures -- such as Isabelle, Digby, and Tom Nook -- which are required to play. By playing the amiibo on the Wii U GamePad, they'll appear on a board based on the months and seasons of the year (as with the core Animal Crossing series). Your objective is to make your villager the happiest in town. Supporting up to four players, this game also works with Animal Crossing amiibo cards (first used in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer) and includes a variety of mini-games.
Is it any good?
Since it was launched without as much fanfare as other Nintendo games, you might not have heard of this spin-off that adds a board-game twist to the popular town-simulation franchise, but you're not missing much. Sure, those Animal Crossing characters are so darn cute, and the integration with amiibo figures and cards work very well, but there's just not that much meat here. Roll the die, move down the board, watch an animation play out, and then it's someone else's turn. It never feels thrilling or competitive like a game of Monopoly or chess, which reduces the fun of playing with a friend or a family member.
The highlight of amiibo Festival is called Desert Island Escape. This is a one player mini-game that lets you control a team of three characters, each with different powers, but they all have to work together to gather materials and get off the island. Some of the eight mini-games are fun, but most are straightforward and unexciting. Plus, unlike other Nintendo board/party games such as Mario Party, you can't play mini-games while playing the main board game -- you'll have to wait your turn before you get a chance to influence the game. The result is a game that falls short of the elements that made Animal Crossing such an enjoyable experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the growing trends to market to kids by fusing the digital with the physical. Are games such as Skylanders, Disney Infinity, Lego: Dimensions, Leapfrog's Imagicards, and Nintendo's amiibo characters and cards ways to extend the fun outside the game? Or are they simply a way to get parents to spend more money?
How different are the characters in the game from the people you interact with in real life? What do you think a real town would be like if all the residents acted like the characters in the game?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo of America
- Release date: November 20, 2015
- Genre: Party
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Horses and Farm Animals, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: E for Comic Mischief
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