If you’re the sort to enjoy cute games, especially games like Animal Crossing, then Hello Kitty Island Adventure on Apple Arcade will appeal to you.
I don’t have Apple Arcade, but they gave me a code to try out this game.
Tl;dr: Hello Kitty Island Adventure is open-ended, fun, carrot-stick-y, and off-the-charts adorable. And it’s filled with well-known Sanrio characters, obvs. If you like those things, then you will like this game.
Note: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. It doesn’t contain a lot, and they’re early-game ones, many of which are revealed on the website for the game itself, but this is your disclaimer. You’ve been warned.
What’s the Premise?
In Hello Kitty Island Adventure, your character is traveling to an island along with a lot of Sanrio characters, including Hello Kitty. Something happens along the way, setting up some quests and goals on the island once you land.
You then make friends with the other characters, work toward these goals and complete these quests, and generally explore the island and enjoy yourself.
How Does It Begin?
When the gameplay starts, you are on an airplane heading to the island. Hello Kitty greets you and you set up your avatar. Then you can meet the other travelers on the plane by walking up to them and tapping on the circle with their face on it. You get a little information about the island and what you can expect from each of the characters.
You have a cell phone that displays information you’ll need for the game. Eventually, it will display Quests, Friends, Visitors, Daily Rewards, Collections, Multiplayer, Map, Settings, the Discord Community, and the Main Menu, and later you get a bag where you can see all of your items. But, at the beginning, a few of these options are hidden.
What’s It Like? What Can You Do In the Game?
Because the game is aimed at kids as well as any adult fans, it’s usually pretty clear what you’re supposed to do at any given time. You have a list of storyline quests—as well as daily quests—but you can also just wander around, gather supplies, and explore the map. Some of the tasks pretty clearly indicate that you need to head toward a certain character or to a place, while others involve wandering around the island looking for certain objects. If you forget what to do, you can always refer to your quest list.
The story progresses a little slowly, but if you’re there to enjoy the ride, there are plenty of activities to do and characters to get to know. There are also a lot of things to gather around the island that reset daily, such as pineapples, balls, sticks, and sand dollars. Different sections of the map have different items to collect, which you can then give as gifts or use to craft other items. Also, you will eventually be able to catch fish and other animals. You can also find and open treasure chests, which do not reset daily, unfortunately.
Time passes on the island. During the daytime it’s day on the island, and during the nighttime it’s night, from what I’ve observed.
Some of the exploration and storylines include some puzzles to solve, which seem a little out of place in the game but they are fun.
Giving gifts to your new friends is an important part of the game. As you get to know the characters and give them the right kinds of gifts (they have preferences, after all), you level up your friendship, which unlocks other options in the game.
Gudetama—that highly unusual egg character—situates themself all over the island, and the game keeps track of the selfies you take with them. Discovering them in different forms in different locations is part of the fun.
The island has a series of visitor cabins that are abandoned at first, but you will eventually be able to decorate them to entice other specific characters to visit.
Other abilities gradually unlock as well. For example, you can go fishing once you unlock the ability to make your own fishing pole. You need flippers to go in the water, and a snorkel to explore under the water.
The longer you play, the more you can do, and the more of the map you can explore. I haven’t reached the end of the story content, but I assume you can just keep playing after that, doing daily quests, participating in events, and enjoying your adorable companions.
The game also has a multi-player option where you can join a friend or a friend can join you. I was unable to test this, as I don’t know anyone else playing the game.
What Are Some Pros and Cons?
I really enjoyed getting to know some of the Sanrio characters in addition to Hello Kitty, with whom I was most familiar. I also really enjoyed seeking out Gudetama wherever I found them.
I’m big into exploration, so I also enjoyed seeing what was in covered-up parts of the map, and got a bit of dopamine every time I found a new chest to open or even a new item to pick up.
You can customize your look, including dyeing your clothes.
The game has special events and Game Center achievements, so there is always something to be working toward.
You do get bonuses for logging in each day, but it’s also the kind of game you can just put down for a while and go back to when you like, spending as much or as little time at it as you want.
Because the game is on my iPad and not a console with a controller, I found the navigation a little challenging. Sometimes I’d have to reposition my hands just to have them in the right places for moving around, and I had to look at the corner frequently to make sure to tap the right tool. Of course you’re looking at the screen the whole time, but even on my little iPad Mini it took me out of the action to have to look at certain parts of the screen to make certain actions happen, compared with using a controller that you can use by feel.
Moving around is hard to be precise with, but you do eventually get some quick-travel options.
The fishing is a bit fiddly, with a lot of tapping to one side or the other to reel in the fish.
The app is a very large file, and playing the game uses a lot of battery.
You need Apple Arcade to play the game, so, if there aren’t a lot of other games you want to play within Apple Arcade, you’re paying a monthly fee for just this game.
Every time you switch apps and then come back to the game, it starts you at the menu again.
For some this will be a pro and for some this will be a con, but there is a Discord server attached to the game, accessible from one of the menus. This can be great for finding and enjoying community, but it might not be great for kids.
Regarding the puzzles to solve within the game, they do feel a bit out of place among the other content, but they are fun and simple enough. Sometimes you don’t get much direction in how to solve them other than knowing what your eventual goal is, though, so young kids may need some parental help here.
At first glance, Hello Kitty Island Adventure seems a lot like Animal Crossing. You create an adorable creature, get to change its clothes, meet other adorable residents on the island, go fishing, complete tasks, cook, craft, decorate houses, explore, swim, etc. But this game is a bit more directed than Animal Crossing with quests to complete, a storyline to follow, and parts of the map to unlock. It’s also a considerably larger map. There are even puzzles to solve that feel more like puzzle game puzzles than something that belongs in open-world exploration. But they do add to the fun and variety.
Hello Kitty Island Adventure is a really cute game that is a no-brainer to play if you already have Apple Arcade. It’s fun for kids and grown-ups, especially for those of us who have been life-long Hello Kitty fans. If you don’t already have Apple Arcade, it may be worth the subscription cost in and of itself, especially if you’re a huge fan, or if you have a big trip coming up with a lot of down time. Or, you could subscribe to Apple Arcade for just a few months to play for a while, or use a free trial option.
In short, the game is well-made, cute, and worth your time.
Note: I received a code for the game for review purposes.