I think I get attracted to games that get mediocre reviews because I'm curious to see if they're actually good and just misunderstood. Sadly, this wasn't the case for Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival for Wii U, and the game is as unmemorable and tedious as all the reviews say. The developers basically tried to translate the experience of the main series to a board game format, but it's much less engaging to read about villagers visiting you than actually having them visit you in a game. It's nice to see all the Animal Crossing characters and interact with them in this new way, but the main mode (the board game) is casual and mindless, and most of all, repetitive. Also, the games take too long: an average game is something like 1 hour and 15 minutes, and although you can choose to play a shorter timed version (the minimum being 30 minutes), a lot of the special events happen in the second half of a game and it's annoying to miss out on them. The mode lets you select one "month" and the special events vary by month, but the special events aren't that special and the board is exactly the same every time, so there's not much thought or strategy involved at all. The Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer interaction is minimal as well. If you scan in an Amiibo card with a HHD design stored on it the exterior of the house will appear on the board, but that's it, which seems like quite a missed opportunity.
The game seems to be trying to sell both the Animal Crossing Amiibo figures and the Amiibo cards. The figures are cute and must have been really overstocked because they're selling for really cheap (less than $6 each). Using an Amiibo figure rather than the default Villager characters makes little to no difference in the main board game mode. The other modes are focused on the cards, and of these I agree with the general consensus that most of them you'll play once or twice and never again, with the exception of "Desert Island Escape", which is the clear standout and a one player only game. That game requires the most thought, and unlike the main mode, having a good selection of Amiibo cards on hand will help you get through that game, and enhances the experience. In "Desert Island Escape" your character's special ability is determined by its animal species (e.g. cats have a special fishing ability, bears can collect honey more easily, etc.), and playing around with the different abilities is fun. The mode has a good number of islands to beat and three different difficulty modes, and I highly recommend that you unlock that game first since beating the islands will net you plenty of points towards unlocking the other, much less interesting minigames (a few of which are multiplayer only).
As a full-priced game ($60 for the game plus two Animal Crossing Amiibo and three cards included) this is definitely not worth getting, even for die-hard fans. I got a copy for pretty cheap, and I wasn't super disappointed since the Amiibo are cute and "Desert Island Escape" was fun, and some of the other minigames were entertaining for a few minutes as well. I'm looking forward to seeing more of "Desert Island Escape" (perhaps in a multiplayer version or a version for mobile devices?), but otherwise this game is pretty forgettable all around.
Not too tepid Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival links:
- Official site for the series
- Page on Miiverse
- Review on NintendoLife
- Random person's guide to "Desert Island Escape", includes descriptions of all the possible animals' special abilities
- Links to images of all the unlockable character outfits (earned by playing the board game mode many, many times
- Entry at animalcrossing.wikia.com
- Entry at Metacritic