Sunday, December 11, 2011

12/10: Is Fortune Street worth your time?

At PAX I spent a half-hour playing Fortune Street with other attendees and Nintendo reps. The game itself was about eight minutes of our time. The unskippable animation sequences, showers of weird gamification numbers, and dice-rolling graphics took up the other 22 minutes. It's a relatively fast-moving game, with a lot to process, and maybe there's a brain-overload reason why you can't press A to bypass Bowser waddling from one square to another.

The board we played on was small, maybe 24 squares. The regular Fortune Street boards can be immense, three or four times as big. Playing that could take hours. If this was a board game, instead of a video game of a board game, it would take days: each move requires calculations and readjustments to the prices you charge people.

This game has been around for a decade in Japan, and is making its first appearance stateside. I can't help but think it feels like someone imported, even though everything's been localized to English: all the numbers! So many Dragon Warrior cameos! The assumption that cartoon characters appealing to four-year-olds and a game that's ten times more intricate than Monopoly go hand in hand! The realization that the game would be 90% simpler but 0% different if they got rid of money and just had characters punching each other for damage and then eating pizza to regain health.

Metacritic gave the game a rare below-8.5 score, which in this modern world means it's trashed like E.T. at Alamagordo. Still, if you're the sort of person who's enjoyed Mario Party titles, Fortune Street stands with one foot there, and the other between Park Place and Boardwalk. GameFly's your friend.