Hello Kitty Island Adventure hands-on preview — Furry and friendly

There’s unexpected, and there’s unexpected. Hello Kitty was not the mascot I expected to be engaging with at Summer Game Fest, but then I played Island Adventure. Suddenly, what I expected was thrown out the door and replaced with surprise; surprise that underneath a brand some might dismiss is a video game that’s engaging, cozy, and fun.

For those of you who don’t know about it, Hello Kitty Island Adventure is a game currently only available via Apple Arcade. It’s about to make a big jump in 2025 though, arriving on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and PC. You can check out the news about the release here, and the team at Sunblink is really excited to bring their game to more people.

We Interview: CCO Tom Blind of Sunblink & Hello Kitty Island Adventure!

Hello Kitty Island Adventure begins with Hello Kitty and friends on their way to a needed vacation. Unfortunately, the cake machine on the flight malfunctions, which forces everyone to abandon the plane and use their balloons to float down to an island below. Here, they find a deserted theme park, and there’s a mystery to uncover as you go about fixing it up.

Before you do that though, you need to create a character! This character is original to the game, meaning you aren’t one of the crew that’s already in the Hello Kitty universe. What’s cool is you aren’t ever locked into a choice, so if I want to be a cat instead of a dog archetype, I can swap to that. It also allows for all of the side characters around Hello Kitty to be used as your friends, NPCs you’ll interact with as you play the game. Sunblink has even gone as far as to update their short bios with deeper lore, fleshing them out and giving them some great personalities.

When you get to the island, you’ll find it’s a lot like an Animal Crossing game. This is the genre Hello Kitty Island Adventure falls into, with cozy stylings that make playing a game easy. You’ll run around and talk to NPCs, find new friends, and work to rebuild the theme park. It’s overall just a really good time, with simple gameplay anyone can get into.

While I didn’t get that far, this game was also pitched to have Breath of the Wild elements. I can certainly see that in the gliding and stamina meter, and I’m looking forward to seeing how mechanics of that nature are worked in as you play.The map is also huge, so there’s a lot to go out there and find. What’s insane is this game only continues to get bigger, growing from the original forty hours of content into eighty as they’ve done updates.

These updates are part of the grand plan for the game, with a promised three acts being developed. It functions similarly to a live service game right now, just without the fluff you’d expect from one of those. Currently there is a major update every six weeks, but that will drop off a bit once the game heads to other platforms and has to deal with the holder’s restrictions. It’s cool to see a game like this get so much attention, and Sunblink seems to be doing it right.

Something else they’re doing right, at least in this writer’s opinion, is how they’re handling this version of a cozy sim. A lot of games in this genre tend to be obtuse, not directing you much and instead letting you wander and discover what to do or who to talk to next. Hello Kitty Island Adventure doesn’t completely ditch that, but does give you more map markers and quest guides to help you find your way around. I’m someone who likes structure, and this works well for me.

For instance, the way you build friendships is giving gifts. You can only do this three times a day (an odd mobile-type rule), and your friendship meter builds the fastest when you find what the character likes. In your cellphone/menu/journal, you’ll be able to learn what things Hello Kitty likes, and be able to get or make those things to give her. There are even tasks right away that give you insight into what to do, and can have you making gifts to give to the NPCs. I appreciate Hello Kitty Island Adventure respecting my time and helping me get from point A to point B without a lot of fuss.

Friendships are the biggest part of Hello Kitty Island Adventure. I just explained how you do it, but it’s more important than that. You don’t unlock levels in this game, you unlock friendships. These benefit you by opening new quests and unlocking perks when these characters tag along, like being able to run or glide faster. While I wouldn’t look at any of these systems as revolutionary, they make sense and seem fun to engage with.

Delving further into friendships, your real life friendships can exist here too. There is multiplayer, and the islands will support you and a friend as you galavant around. Just like Animal Crossing, your island has special things on it and in the shop your friends will want to come and get, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for those items. The only things that can’t leave are quest-specific elements, so most of what you find is fair game!

I wish I had more time to play Hello Kitty Island Adventure while at Summer Game Fest. Talking with Sunblink was wonderful, and they have some great people hard at work to deliver this game across new platforms and grow the story behind it even more (and you can check out our interview with CCO Tom Blind above). For a game I don’t know that I’d usually give the time of day, my time with Hello Kitty Island Adventure actually got me to jump on my Apple Arcade trial just to dive in further.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure launches next year (2025) on Nintendo Switch as a timed exclusive, with PlayStation 4 and 5, and PC following. You can currently subscribe to Apple Arcade and play via iPhone, iPad, Mac, and even Apple TV with full controller or touch screen support.

Lead Video Game Editor | [email protected]

David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.

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