If you don’t like the so-sweet-it-makes-your-teeth-hurt style of the Animal Crossing series you won’t like this game. If you are a fan, then please come right this way.
Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival was born out of Nintendo wanting to make Amiibo figures for the AC series. The game exists purely as a cash grab which is pretty lame but actually the game underneath is good. You get two Amiibo with the game and three cards, which is all you need to enjoy the game. It was good enough for me to buy three packs of cards though.
Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival is a party game/board game a bit like Monopoly or Nintendo/Square Enix’s Fortune Street. I’ve purposefully left out Mario Party from that comparison as although they are both made by the same development team they are very different beasts. AC:AF has no minigames in it’s main board game mode.
In Amiibo Festival you have one large customisable board with 12 variants, one for each month of the year. You roll the dice and move around the board for each day of that month, so effectively up to 31 times. The aim of the game is to collect more Happy Points than your opponents and to complete the month without going into debt. You have free roam over which way you want to move around the board to start with and at each of its junctions.
There are a few ways to collect happy points, one of which is just by landing on the right square. The square can have a smiling face, a bag of money (bells), a frowny face, an inverted colour money bag or a mixture of two. It’s super straight forward, the smiling face gives you Happy Points, the Bell Bag gives you money, the frowny face takes Happy Points away and the negative money bag takes money.
Once you land on a square a little animation will play to show how you ended up losing/gaining money/Happy Points, that is it. The strategy lies in stacking the odds in your favour. Unlike the Mario Party series, you don’t get random boosts or players don’t get helped if they are struggling, this is purely a numbers game.
Other elements include event squares (usually 2 days a week) which can bring other villagers to your game to sell you item cards to assist you in swinging those odds, give you item cards or ask favours of you like collecting ingredients on the board. Fishing contests and bug catching also exists in the game but again it is about swinging the odds so you land on a gold fishing square rather than a bronze one.
There is a persistent stock market in game as well in the form of the turnip selling. You can buy turnips on Sunday and receive a forecast for stock prices twice a week so you can predict when is best to cash in. You can get an item that allows you to push the stock market in your favour, or to cause prices to crash to screw over your opponents.
When played with like-minded friends the board game mode is really fun and great with a few beers. The lack of minigames keeps the game moving as everyone is always seconds from their next rolls. The visiting villagers are quite chatty when they turn up but if they repeat visit they cut their dialogue down which also helps game flow. There are no AI players so you don’t have to wait for some random CPU to make their turn, it is such a huge difference.
Also included on the disc is a store for you to spend your collected Happy Points. You can buy outfits and minigames which are mostly uninspired. However there is one minigame included called Desert Island Escape which is so deep it could have been it’s own release (and probably would have reviewed better then this package).
In Desert Island Escape you recruit villagers to help you escape from islands cut up into hexagonal grids. Each villager can move a set number of spaces and you have to collect resources/food to build various items and ultimately a boat before a week passes or you die of starvation. I could write an entire post about the nuances in this mode but for now just check out a youtube video. The mode was also recently included in New Leaf.
Why didn’t anyone play it?
Amiibo Festival was released on Wii U to a crowd of people hungry for a new standard Animal Crossing game. The Animal Crossing fanbase are nutters and always go hard on new releases, they create insane bespoke towns and play for literally 1000s of hours (love you guys). This isn’t a standard AC game, and it was not on the 3DS, two things that stopped it seeing huge success.
Another part of it not being popular is the reviews. I’ve played this game with 3-4 people who have all loved it, I can only assume that reviewers have to finish all the content alone. Unlocking everything in this game single player would be absolute hell, with no CPUs to play against you’d be grinding happy points for a long time as you would only collect one players worth. The fishing/hunting events would have one contestant and the collecting item events would be impossible to complete as you couldn’t move around the entire board in 2 days like you can with multiple players.
If you have friends to play with and a Wii U, I recommend this game. It is cheap as chips and currently sells for around £10 on amazon brand new. For your £10 you get a full game (£35 normally), two Amiibo figures (£11 each normally) and 3 Amiibo cards (£2.90) so it is an insane deal.