Play Your Cards Right
As agonizingly dull as the board game component of amiibo Festival is, it’s fortunately not the only aspect of the game. After a few rounds of the dice-rolling snooze fest, you will start to unlock minigames in the main menu’s plaza. Some are single-player, others are multiplayer; some are unintuitive to the point of frustration, others are almost as boring as the board game. Each game is unlocked with tickets that can be earned by playing the board game, or other minigames enough–tickets are earned based on your score. In each mini-game, you play as one or multiple of the animal villagers by scanning their respective amiibo cards.
By far the most fun of the minigames is the Desert Island Escape, which features multiple difficulty levels and different skills/challenges depending on which amiibo cards you scan. Desert Island Escape is still high in the RNG factor, but some strategy is necessary. Each day, each character can move a certain amount of spaces across a desert island in order to find food, tools, and materials to build a raft. The tools help you avoid traps and collect food, and you need enough food to survive long enough to build the raft. Different villagers possess different skills, such as being able to fish without a fishing pole or being able to move long distances in one day. With a few more amiibo cards to really put together a useful team, Desert Island Escape was somewhat fun, and I spent most of my minigame time playing it.
Aside from unlocking more minigames and useless visual features for the board game, there’s no reason to play the minigames at all.
The Quiz Show is exactly what it sounds like. You’ll be asked questions about the Animal Crossing series–anything from what the name of an item is, to identifying a villager from a picture to difficult, real-world questions such as who painted certain paintings or what type of fossil is being shown. Single-player, answering as many questions as possible within a time limit, is fun for awhile if you know your Animal Crossing games. But up to four players can play…and that’s when things get awful. In order to answer, you have to “buzz in” by scanning your respective amiibo card when a spotlight is shining on your character. The best you can do is sit in a weird circle around the Gamepad and alternate looking at the TV and scrambling to scan your card in time, then pray you can pick out the right answer from the many choices on the Gamepad. Playing Quiz Show with friends was awkward and not at all fun.
There are a few other games–including an acorn collection game and a Rock/Paper/Scissors-Whackamole hybrid that both require you to scan three different amiibo cards at exactly the right time in a fast-paced, timed game that just left me confused and exasperated. There’s also an uninspired guessing game and a balloon popping game that was fun for all of five minutes. Aside from unlocking more minigames and useless visual features for the board game, there’s no reason to play the minigames at all. What fun can be gleaned is short-lived, and without more than the included three amiibo cards, you’ll quickly be bored with your gameplay options in the more enjoyable fare.
The Price of Happiness
Finally, it’s worth talking about the cost of the gameplay, as it’s intrinsically tied into the design. Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival comes with two amiibo and three amiibo cards. The amiibo figures aren’t much of a concern, as they offer no distinctive gameplay beyond varied aesthetics. Nonetheless, it is frustrating that you can only unlock two of the available playable characters in a game that already costs $59.99.
Then there are the amiibo cards. They’re required to unlock new villagers in the board game town, and there are loads of distinct abilities in the Desert Island Survival game that aren’t usable if you don’t have a villager’s card with that ability. You can also scan them into the board game during play to move a specific amount of spaces. Though these items seem trivial, in a game with little to offer to begin with, missing out on this many features without purchasing even more merchandise is simply laughable. While it’s laudable that the amiibo and the amiibo cards share features between this and Happy Home Designer, and will likely have a presence in whatever the next main series title will be, this is simply too much content missing from a full price title. If you want to collect all the villagers in-game, you have to keep buying packs of amiibo cards and get lucky on their contents. At least it fits with the board game theme of everything being RNG.
Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival is barely a game at all. It’s an RNG-based board game simulator with some bad minigames and a few passable ones. The best thing that can be set about it is that it looks very pretty, and functions appropriately…by which I mean you tap the amiibo and can watch some random numbers show up on your screen. The adorable nature of the title is even frustrating because it serves to remind Animal Crossing fans that we got this and Happy Home Designer instead of a main series title this year. A main series title that easily could have looked just as good as this, and incorporated the information-sharing capabilities of the amiibo and amiibo cards as this game tried to.
Stick to straight-up Animal Crossing, Nintendo. Your fans are waiting.
A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.