[Review] Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival
Posted on November 22, 2015 by Vincent Ward in Reviews, Wii U
System: Wii U
Release date: November 13, 2015
Developer: Nintendo / Nd Cube
With Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival, I find myself having trouble translating my opinion into words. From a party game standpoint it has everything with fun multiplayer games and some single-player content sprinkled in. For an Animal Crossing spin-off title, it still has a lot to offer, too. It feels like an Animal Crossing title focused around being a party game instead of vice-versa, which is exactly how it should be. But I can’t help but get the impression that there’s something missing from the overall experience that is leaving the picture unfinished, and with a source material as large as Animal Crossing, I have to admit it ends up leaving a sour taste in my mouth.
Let’s begin with what really works in amiibo Festival. For starters, what it offers in the multiplayer department is fairly solid. The menu leads directly to a plaza with all of the possible options of games to play, and the star of the whole show – the multiplayer boards – can be fun. They provide you with a different board containing new events for each month of the year, and the goal is to end up as the happiest player (this is Animal Crossing we’re talking about here). Each person moves by rolling the dice – often by tapping an amiibo on the GamePad – and moving along the different paths.
As you progress along the board and through the month, certain events will happen such as special holidays or the weekly turnip market that keeps everything different each time you play. These distractions are fun at first, but they quickly become repetitious and lose their charm.
By the end of the whole game, the total amount of Happy Points and Bells each player has amassed are tallied to decide who’s happiest. Yet the end result happens so quickly and feels so pointless, making the whole play session feel useless. Although, after you’ve made some progress, you’re allowed to fill up the board game town with other villagers and decorations, which did bring another fun element of the Animal Crossing series into this title.
Other multiplayer offerings include games that take advantage of Animal Crossing amiibo cards, but just like the other modes, the usage of amiibo functionality feels forced and makes the gameplay they’re integrated into that much less entertaining. My friends and I often found ourselves groaning whenever we had to sit up to place down our amiibo and wanting to return to the controller-style of gameplay. The only time when this kind of integration works is when cards only need to be registered at the beginning, allowing you to set them down and play with for the rest of the game. However, these modes are typically the shortest, leaving the best moments gone far too soon.
On the single-player side, things don’t look much brighter. You can play the board games by yourself, but where’s the fun in that? Your other options aren’t too impressive, with most of them being glorified versions of mini-games that would seem fit inside a Mario Party title, and also require cumbersome use of the amiibo functionality. A noteworthy exception is Desert Island Escape where you select three amiibo cards to be left on an island with, and using each one’s respective special abilities, you must gather enough supplies to get off the island while still surviving the days you’re stranded. Unfortunately though, this one does suffer from the same problems the board games do, so don’t expect too much of a shining star from this one.
I must give credit where credit is due, though, because if someone were to buy this game strictly due to their Animal Crossing desires, they will not be disappointed. Everywhere you turn is another cute reference to the franchise, and the already cute elements people fell in love with work even better in HD. If you get a group of friends who love the series as much as you do, you might just find yourself surviving the flaws this game carries. Plus, there’s a fun (albeit incredibly challenging) little trivia game you can play that really tests your Animal Crossing knowledge.
The disappointing thing about Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival is that unless you’re a hardcore fan of the series who has a group of friends who feel the exact same way, you won’t get much enjoyment out of the title. With a lackluster multiplayer mode and bare bones single-player options, the game may come across to some as an attempt to motivate people to pick up more amiibo. Any Animal Crossing fan knows that the series deserves better, so hopefully if it makes a proper return onto the Wii U, the real festival will begin.
Unless you really need an Isabelle amiibo in your life, I can’t recommend Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival too heavily. For an Animal Crossing fan such as myself, seeing all the things that make the series great in HD was fun at first. But after everything else this game had to offer began watering down the experience, I found myself progressively smiling less and less. If you’re looking for a fun holiday title to play with your family and friends, you’re best off visiting another town.