When you think of an interactive board game set in the Animal Crossing universe then it's easy to get excited. However, is amiibo Festival too simple to roll the dice on? Let's take the train to party town and see for ourselves.
To put it simply, Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival consists of a board game and eight mini-games (which are completely separate from the board game). It comes with amiibo statues of siblings Isabelle and Digby as well as amiibo cards for Goldie, Rosie, and Stitches. This may vary given time or region, but that's what came in the box that I bought. Anyway, the board game requires at least one Animal Crossing amiibo statue but any additional players can choose to be a generic boy or girl villager. The mini-games require amiibo cards to play. You can only enjoy six of the eight right off the bat because two of them need more than three cards so you'll have to buy another pack to play them. When you first boot it up, only the board game is available and after a couple sessions you'll unlock the game's main hub where you can purchase the mini-games with earned Happy Tickets. It can take a very long time to unlock everything so patience will surely pay off when it comes to getting the most out of this party.
I'll start this review by discussing the board game. First of all, don't expect it to be even close to the quality of any Mario Party game because most of it is played by just rolling dice and seeing what happens. Each turn generally has you land on a space where you either gain or lose Happy Points and/or bells (the Animal Crossing currency). Upon landing on a space, an often humorous but always adorable scene will play out to show you why you've gained or lost your assets. You'll come across many familiar characters and scenarios that are sure to delight fans. Unfortunately, these scenes start to repeat after playing only a couple of sessions. Also, considering collecting items is an important aspect of the Animal Crossing series, it's disappointing that there are no catalogs to fill out here.
The boards are themed according to month yet the general layout never really changes. You can later customize the board which involves building characters' houses by scanning amiibo cards and constructing new features such as fountains and playgrounds by redeeming earned Happy Tickets. These are mostly cosmetic although new residents can roll the dice for you if your wrist hurts from rolling them yourself. You'll experience a handful of different events that help mix up the gameplay such as gathering items for a cook-off, seeing who can catch the biggest fish, and having to move backwards on "opposite day". Special events that resemble ones from the real world such as "Toy Day" (Christmas) and "Bunny Day" (Easter) are amusing to take part in while celebrating the characters' birthdays can be downright heartwarming. If you read that sentence and felt cynical then this game is definitely not for you.
You don't actually make that many decisions throughout a board game session so I'll try to explain. Besides just rolling the dice, you decide which path to take at crossroads, use gathered cards that act like Mario Party items, and buy and sell turnips in the "Stalk Market" to try and earn some extra bells. With the exception of minor decisions during certain events, this is basically all you do. Therefore, many gamers (including myself) will find it way too boring to continue playing after a few rounds. Considering each session lasts about 45 minutes, it can get rather painful to sit through. The only incentive to keep playing after you unlock the hub is to level up your amiibo statues thus earning additional costumes and emotions, but these are rarely worth the effort. By the way, you're probably wondering what I mean by "emotions", right? All they do is make the character pose when you tap on them. Wasn't that a disappointing fact? Anyway, enough about the board game; let's break down the mini-games!
Mini-games in Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival
Acorn Chase - You tap from a selection of three amiibo cards that make your party move straight, left, or right on a grid. The goal is to collect acorns and complete three stages while being chased by a Cornimer car. It's pretty fun although very short-lived once you get the knack of how to win. You could always play again to try and beat your record time.
Mystery Campers - This requires six amiibo cards so you'll have to buy an additional pack if you haven't bought one already. Anyway, this game plays like the board game Mastermind where you try to guess which character is in each tent. There's nothing too special about it but fans of Mastermind-style code-breaking will definitely dig it.
Balloon Island - As soon as you tap an amiibo card, the corresponding character falls onto a field of balloons floating above an island. As you watch them bounce back and forth and either land on the island (which rewards you points) or make a splash in the water, you'll realise that this mostly just tests your luck.
Quiz Show - One to four players answer trivia questions about Animal Crossing while playing as the character on their amiibo card of choice. If you need assistance then you can touch an amiibo statue and that character might help you answer the question which is a pretty nifty feature. Overall, this is for Animal Crossing fans (like me) only as the questions mostly pertain to identifying objects from the series by selecting its name or finishing a sequence.
Fruit Path - You and up to three friends take turns using amiibo cards to move the amount of spaces that's stated on the used card. Your goal is to gather fruit without stumbling in a pitfall which makes you lose all of your current turn's fruit. This is a weak excuse for a mini-game as it's way too simple to be even slightly enjoyable.
amiibo Card Battle - Two to four players battle cards from a pool of six. That's right; you need additional cards for this game, too. Cards with higher numbers win although if the star sign on one matches the crystal ball then this rule is reversed. It's about as lame as the previous game. The most amount of fun you can have here is watching the characters play rock-paper-scissors when it's a tie.
Desert Island Escape - This single player turn-based adventure requires you to assemble a group of three amiibo card characters to escape from thirty incrementally difficult islands. I'm actually impressed by how compelling this game is and considering there are so many islands to master; it has the potential to remain interesting for hours. Exploring each island while gathering materials, crafting tools, battling enemies, and rationing food supplies before finally building a raft to escape is actually a very satisfying feat.
Resetti Bop - Here we have yet another one player game that uses three amiibo cards. However, this isn't nearly as fun. You basically play whack-a-mole with Mr. Resetti. There is a twist in that each Mr. Resetti has a rock-paper-scissors symbol on it so you can only get points when you whack him with a winning symbol. This isn't a bad game but it is a bit too basic to stay entertaining.
Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival is cute and it'll quench the thirst of fans who just can't get enough of the series. However, the sheer simplicity of it all may be a little too basic for anyone but said fans to enjoy. With only a handful of fun mini-games to play, I can't widely recommend trying to get an invitation to this party.
- + Familiar yet endearing world and characters
- + A decent collection of interesting mini-games that can be quite enjoyable
- + Scenes are both cute and amusing
- - The board game is way too simple
- - It takes a very long time to unlock enough worthwhile content
- - No collection catalogs to fill out