Hands-On Preview: Hello Kitty Island Adventure

A cute and engaging take on the cozy life-sim genre!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/24/2024 12:39 Comment on this     ShareThis

A couple of weeks ago during Summer Game Fest I was fortunate enough to get my hands on Sunblink Entertainment’s Hello Kitty Island Adventure. Originally released on Apple Arcade back in 2023, the game went on to rave reviews and accolades from fans. With its cozy life sim vibes, Island Adventure seemed like it would be a perfect fit for Nintendo Switch. After giving it a go, I’m happy to say that it’s looking like this will be a very worthwhile addition to Switch’s software library that even seasoned players will want to potentially keep an eye open for.

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way, first—yes, in passing Hello Kitty Island Adventure does bear some resemblance to Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You’re on an island paradise living your best life while making friends with cute animal neighbors. That, however, is about as superficial as the similarities get. There’s a lot more going on in Island Adventure than shaking trees for some coconuts. Yes, this is a game that’s meant to be relaxing, but there’s a hidden layer of challenge right there in the title: it’s also an adventure!

The demos starts things off with creating a custom character. This avatar has all the requisite cutesy Sanrio vibes one would expect—cartoony features, colorful clothes, and so on. One thing Sublink’s brand manager Chelsea Howe told me was that the design team is very conscious of offering players a number of different body types to customize their avatar with. Given the wide range of character shapes in the Sanrio universe (I’m looking at you, Tuxedo Sam), they wanted to reflect that in Island Adventure. It was nice to see players given the chance to create their own character that will genuinely fit in with Hello Kitty and friends.

Island Adventure starts off with the player character, Hello Kitty, and a whole menagerie of other Sanrio friends including Keroppi, Badtz-Maru, My Melody, and many others, all being stranded on an island oasis. The sands are soft, the ocean waves gentle, and the sun plentiful, but there’s a smattering of trouble mixed in. Some companions are not accounted for and it’s up to the player to seek them out. It’s here that the fun begins, as players must now set out to comb the island for the missing by completing a number of different tasks.

Admittedly, many of these tasks will sound familiar to life sim fans. Accumulate items and goodies and give them as gifts to neighbors in order to strengthen bonds between them. Various characters have shops that they run, like Badtz-Maru and his comic book stand, for instance, and Hello Kitty with her bakery. The shops and activities associated with the cast all fit with the characters’ established personalities. Pochacco, for example, is a sports nut, and his first interactions with the player are centered around getting them active on a quest to take photos of hidden Gudetamas all over the island. It’s a nice touch for longtime Sanrio fans and also helps to serve the more practical function of making the bevy of characters distinct from one another.

Where Island Adventure differentiates itself from other cozy life sims is in the titular adventure aspect of the game. The opening tutorial segment is fairly standard in terms of fulfilling fetch quests for neighbors, but things take an intriguing turn when Chococat needs power for a gate blocking off access to another part of the island where their friends are trapped. Suddenly, I found myself diverted into a temple-like location where I had to solve a simple puzzle to proceed. Admittedly, I didn’t know anything about Island Adventure before trying the demo at Summer Game Fest, so I was legitimately surprised when this part of the game began to unfold. It was the perfect break that helped to shake things up.

It wasn’t the most complicated challenge, admittedly, but it was pleasing to engage with and provided a nice break from the more standard fare of a life sim game. Still, the parts of Island Adventure that skew more traditional do it well. The island was enjoyable to explore; very pretty with its flowing waters and flowers and sandy beaches all throughout. The in-game clock sees day turn to night, and I was told that a number of different events and activities take place depending on the date and time. There’s also a handy guide in place that will help younger and less-skilled players complete objectives by leading them from point to point.

The build I played was still in the midsts of being customized for Switch, so there was a little confusion on my part when the game was prompting me to do certain things and it felt like the button I was expecting to press, well, wasn’t the right one. Eventually these small wrinkles will be ironed out and I’m honestly not all that concerned. I’d also like to point out that with a game so rich with customization options, from clothes to furniture and so on, some might be worried about mounting DLC costs. Howe assured me that there will be no microtransactions in Island Adventure and that all updates are free. With so much promise, it’s nice to hear that once players buy the game it’s theirs to enjoy without any strings to attach. I suspect that many of you will feel the same when it finally comes to Nintendo Switch next year as a timed console exclusive.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!