Hello Kitty Island Adventure may be your next favorite cozy game

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Hello Kitty Island Adventure surprised me in the best way possible. Where I expected an Animal Crossing-like game with a lower production value, painted in Hello Kitty colors, created to cash in on the surprise success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and pitched to a lucrative mobile audience, the demo I played showed me much more . I explored, made friends, and completed challenges around the island in the early Switch port of Hello Kitty Island Adventure.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure was originally released last year on Apple Arcade and combined management simulator-like mechanics with lightweight exploration, platforming and puzzle-solving to create a comprehensive, cozy adventure. Think Animal Crossing or a less intense version of Stardew Valley combined with A Short Hike or the exploration and questing systems you’d find in a 2D Zelda game. If you’ve played Animal Crossing, you’ll find that many of the game’s settings are quite effortless to parse. It’s all about expanding the island and inviting cute Sanrio characters to live there.

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I checked out an early story mission for about half an hour. I helped My Melody find novel clothing racks for her clothing store while playing as an adorably fat, self-designed cat in a Gudetama outfit. As I looked around, I came across many miniature, fun distractions that kept me engaged during what would otherwise have been a basic fetch task in the starting area.

One quest had me reliving the challenges of Mario 64 Red Coin as I rushed to quickly collect a handful of pink coins. Another was less of an intentional challenge and more of a collectible: scattered throughout the island are statues of Gudetama, Sanrio’s languid egg mascot, that you can photograph. I only found two or three of the 132 oval statues scattered across the island, but for every 12 you find and capture on camera, you’ll receive special decorations, clothing, and other rewards.

These little diversions may be minor, but incorporating microscopic platforming challenges and puzzles into a management simulator-style task structure adds so much more value to your time. It encourages you to get off the beaten path and explore. For example, the coin challenge I mentioned earlier led me to find a novel item.

Incorporating microscopic platforming and puzzle challenges into a management simulator-like task structure adds significant value to your time.

I then started a story mission that helped me unlock the swampy part of the island, which in turn helped me meet novel friends like Keroppi. My demo ended shortly after unlocking this novel area, but I was impressed when I looked at the full Hello Kitty map, which dwarfed the starting area. My half hour of time with Island Adventure was apparently just the tip of the iceberg.

Developer Sunblink has been supporting and supplementing Island Adventure with free content updates Since its original launch on Apple Arcade almost a year ago, it has been regularly adding novel characters from Sanrio’s surprisingly extensive list of characters to befriend. While the developer I spoke with didn’t confirm any details about who or what we should expect in the future, he did promise full compatibility with the mobile version overnight when it arrives on consoles and PC next year.

Sunblink has done such a good job supporting its hit Apple Arcade that the only concern for its future is the Switch port. The demo I played was presented on Switch and performed quite poorly. It was still playable, but the frame rate dropped at an alarming rate. Hopefully this is a problem solved by the time Hello Kitty and friends make the jump to Nintendo’s handheld console hybrid, but knowing what we’ve seen in other Switch ports, I’ll believe it when I see It.

Performances aside, I had a great time running around the island with Saniro’s adorable stars. Whether I was engaging in some delicate platforming or completing a quest, I was consistently impressed with how and where Island Adventure took advantage of opportunities to give me something to do after completing the story quests. Fans of cozy games or someone looking for a fun adventure for a younger gamer should pay attention to Hello Kitty: Island Adventure if they haven’t had a chance to play it on Apple Arcade yet.

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