As soon as I heard about this game, I knew that I wanted to play it. Anyone who’s met me in person knows that I’m a huge Sanrio fan, on account of my Little Twin Stars and Pompompurin tattoos and other accessories. A lot of people in the West have never heard of Sanrio, despite Hello Kitty being massive here in the UK and in the US. But there are thousands of dedicated Sanrio fans around the world and this game is perfect for us.
Hello Kitty Island Adventure is an Apple Arcade-exclusive life simulator game where you design your own Sanrio-esque mascot and befriend a huge cast of popular characters on a tropical island after the cake-baking machine on your flight malfunctions, causing you all to jump to safety. If that’s not enough to draw you in from the beginning, I’m not sure you know what whimsy is.
Despite the game’s name, the story revolves around My Melody and her gift shop Small Gift, Big Smile (Sanrio’s slogan). She’s invited to this mysterious resort island to open a shop there, so the whole crew including Pochacco, Keroppi, Badtz-Maru, and Hello Kitty herself hop aboard a plane to join her. Similarly to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you start off in a relatively small area and discover new places, items, and characters along the way.
Unsurprisingly for a Sanrio game, the main mechanic in Hello Kitty Island Adventure is friendship. Progressing the main story and unlocking cosmetics relies on building up your friendship with the island’s various inhabitants by giving them gifts from categories they like. For example, My Melody loves sweet things and Keroppi loves critters. Each character’s personality and dialogue feels unique and genuine, making it even more rewarding for fans to chat to their favorite Sanrio mascots in-game and get to know them better.
Having said that, you don’t need any prior knowledge of Sanrio to get stuck in. The game assumes nothing about the player, presenting each character to you as if you’ve never met them before. I found this useful because as much as I already know about Kuromi and My Melody for example, I’m less familiar with Badtz-Maru and Hangyodon. But now, Badtz-Maru is slowly making his way up my list of favorites thanks to our in-game conversations.
Hello Kitty Island Adventure has everything you’d expect from a life sim game – fishing, crafting, cooking (so much cooking, I’m in love), resource gathering, bug catching, you name it! There’s so much to do and explore but I don’t feel any pressure to complete it all in one go. One of the reasons I don’t get on with Stardew Valley is that the game throws so many massive quests at you at once, but Hello Kitty Island Adventure is significantly more chill, which I appreciate.
A feature that I wasn’t expecting to find though was the puzzle rooms. The game features a combination of story quest-related puzzles that you can complete in single-player mode, and multiplayer puzzles that require the help of a friend to complete. If you’re worried about finding people to help you, I’d recommend checking out the official Discord server. The community of fans and devs has made my experience with the game so far incredibly smooth and there’s a channel dedicated to finding game partners to play multiplayer with.
I’m currently playing on an iPhone SE 2022 and haven’t encountered any performance issues, but my phone does get incredibly hot while playing and loses charge quite rapidly. It’s hard to say how much of this is the game and how much is the device, but this is something to consider if you have an older model.
I honestly find it quite hard to point out the negatives because there really are very few. I personally find the on-screen joystick to be a little unwieldy to control, but if you’re more used to this sort of gameplay on a phone or you use a controller, it probably won’t bother you as much. A lot of the missions can feel very fetch-quest heavy which annoyed me a little at the beginning, but now that I’ve unlocked fast travel it’s much less of a concern.
Based on the sheer amount and quality of gameplay available in Hello Kitty Island Adventure from launch and the promise of new characters and UX updates as soon as August in version 1.1, I would argue that for dedicated Sanrio fans, this game is worth the subscription price of Apple Arcade. I mean it! If Sunblink is able to sustain regular updates, this game has the potential to be to Sanrio fans what Animal Crossing: New Horizons was to people in lockdown. If you already pay for Apple Arcade, I highly suggest giving it a go – there’s truly something for everyone and it’s just so adorable.
Hello Kitty Island Adventure review
Hello Kitty Island Adventure is a polished, adorable Sanrio life sim jam-packed full of delicious treats and areas to explore on launch. The perfect game for fans of cats, cakes, and cuteness.