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Hello Kitty Party (DS) artwork

Hello Kitty Party (DS) review


"Hello Kitty Party is a collection of twenty five mini-games featuring the wide cast of Sanrioís cute-troop. Whoever your favorite Sanrio character is, whether itís green Keroppi or the titular Hello Kitty, thereís a game that features them. Unfortunately, in this case itís like having your favorite childhood characters feature in a sweat shop. The games are mindless and repetitive and require little to no participation on the playerís part except the ability to briefly touch a stylus to a screen."



ďHey, you want to help me review a game?Ē I asked my friend today. She responded with innocent enthusiasm. Iím not sure what game she expected me to pull out, but judging from the look on her face, it was not Hello Kitty Party.

Before we go on, I need to be perfectly clear about something. I donít have anything against Hello Kitty as a mascot. In fact, I find her and her animal friends disturbingly cute. At the potential cost of my manliness, I will confess to having watched full episodes of Hello Kitty and enjoying them. Now you know that I am not being biased when I say that Hello Kitty Party is probably the worst video game Iíve ever played.

Hello Kitty Party is a collection of twenty-five mini-games featuring the wide cast of Sanrioís cute-troop. Whoever your favorite Sanrio character is, whether itís green Keroppi or the titular Hello Kitty, thereís a game that features them. Unfortunately, in this case itís like having your favorite childhood characters feature in a sweat shop. The games are mindless and repetitive and require little to no participation on the playerís part except the ability to briefly touch a stylus to a screen.

My friend excelled at this and proved to be especially proficient at the cloth cutting activity, where you have to touch the stylus to anywhere on the screen and move it back and forth in any direction for five seconds to win (not an extremely accurate depiction of cutting cloth, mind you). She was also amazingly adept at the vegetable washing activity, where you have to hold your stylus to a general spot on the screen for nine seconds to get the jubilant congratulations of the narrator:

ďFantastic! You did a great job of washing the vegetables!Ē

I didnít have her skills. The dressing game was my first destination at the party. Being color-blind, I quickly proceeded to make such grievous fashion errors as giving Hello Kitty a red flower when she was wearing a puke-orange dress. The game was only full of praise and encouragement, though, and I am proud to say that I now have stored on my DS pictures that would make the colorists at Sanrio cry out in agony. I was better at the dancing game, which is a little bit like Elite Beat Agents if Elite Beat Agents only featured one character and you had to do something on every eighth beat. I had similar success at the shopping activity, where I had to match three objects to their shadows. This might have been disastrous if not for the fortunate fact that cereal boxes, oranges, and celery are quite distinct.

ďAmazing! You got all of them!Ē

All of this praise felt pretty meaningless because there is no structure to Hello Kitty Party. The mini-games aren't played as part of a competitive mode or a story mode or even a scoring system. They are all just laid out on the screen, you choose one, and you play it. Beating them doesn't unlock new games or additional content or give you a high score to try and best next time. The only reward you get for beating a game is the narrator's over-exuberant praise, leading to a perpetual feeling of "been here, done that." There's no multi-player, either, or even any use of the DS friend codes. When I say me and my friend played this together, that involved me and her passing the game back and forth at our own discretion. A casual party game without a multi-player mode is no party game at all.

After a half-hour of play we exhausted every possibility that Hello Kitty Party had to offer and I wondered, out loud, who the target audience of the game had been. My friend hazarded the guess that it was meant for little girls, but I donít buy that. Thereís this strange misconception in the gaming community that somewhere in the world exist little girls whose tiny brains can only handle three seconds of gameplay a minute and exceeding amounts of the color pink. In reality, these little girls donít exist. How do I know this? Because children, whether they be boys or girls, like to have fun and nobody finds those kind of games fun.

Let me say this again, just so I'm clear: anyone who plays Hello Kitty Party will play each of the twenty five mini-games once and then never again. The lasting appeal of the game is about forty five minutes at most. Even the activities in Hello Kitty Party that have potential to be fun a second time, like the slicing game where you actually have to aim your stylus correctly over the vegetables before making a chopping notion, are ruined by a ridiculously short length and no variety. A little under half of the twenty five mini-games feature any change in subsequent plays and these changes are mostly cosmetic, such as having to cut tomatoes instead of onions. With no required change in strategy or approach and no reward, there's just not enough to bring a player, even a young player, back a second time.

Outside of myself (who was obligated) and my friend (who didnít have a choice), Iím not sure who would play Hello Kitty Party. The game is not engaging for anyone over two years old and anyone under two years old canít play the DS because of the choking hazard. Sure, thereís the cute factor, but one thing going for fans of Sanrio is that thereís no shortage of cute products available for them to purchase. There are roughly a thousand other Hello Kitty products out there that are more engaging than this so-called party of hers. Take my advice: buy your child the DVD box set and skip Hello Kitty Party.

Rating: 1/10

zippdementia's avatar
Freelance review by Jonathan Stark (February 10, 2010)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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randxian posted February 10, 2010:

To be honest, I'm ambivalent about this review.

Once again, you do a great job of incorporating subtle wit into your arguments. There were several times I smiled and even chuckled. I also like how you establish credibility early by explaining you do at least have some background with the Hello Kitty universe, so the review obviously isn't "let's take something childish and just trash it." That gave the rest of the review a little more oomph.

However, I'm not sure what you really accomplish by discussing how you and your friend took turns playing the game. Sure, your friend being female helps a bit, but late in the review you make the declaration that not even little girls would enjoy it. How do you really know that? Had it been you, your friend, and a little girl taking turns, I could probably buy that. Since it was two adults, it's a little hard to swallow how you two would know exactly how a younger kid would react. Maybe the game simply isn't fun, irregardless of age. However, I can't see a kid having the exact same reaction as the two of you.
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zippdementia posted February 10, 2010:

I don't like to disagree with criticism, especially when someone goes out of their way to take the time and give it, but I think I explain that part satisfactorily. I will admit that I was very much concerned people wouldn't THINK I explained it satisfactorily, because any time you don't like a kid's game the immediate argument is "well, that's cause you're not a kid." While playing the game, though, I took a lot of time to make sure I wasn't doing that and was giving it a fair assessment.

Thus all the focus on how short games are, how little involvement is needed, how there's no reward system... I don't care how old you are, these are basic requirements of a game for anyone over two years old. Even Candyland, which is pretty much randomly drawing cards, is a more involved game than this.

I do happen to be studying child education and thus child psychology and development and I could have gone into a lot of technical reasons why children need more stimulus than this game offers, but I figured it would be pretty dry material.

Summarizing it as "kids like to have fun and no one finds 5 seconds of gameplay fun" was my compromise.
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randxian posted February 10, 2010:

Maybe so. I did see how you covered fundamentals for any halfway decent game and agree with your assessment.

I think I'm most confused about using your friend to "help review the game." I'm still not sure how that really augments the discourse. Maybe I'm just missing something here.
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zippdementia posted February 10, 2010:

That one I qualified a little less than maybe I should've, or maybe it's just overly subtle. It served two purposes. Initially I meant it just as a gimmick to give me an "in" to writing about the game (plus I really did review it with her, no way I'm tackling Hello Kitty alone). After Jason gave me some very helpful criticism on my first draft, I saw the opportunity to use it to also show how the game, ironically, isn't multi-player compatible.

This whole game raises issues, for me, in how we view our children. I'm a graduate student in education (eventually seeking to teach film) and a proponent of Imaginative Education (http://www.ierg.net/) which shows how certain forms of media can really screw with the development of cognitive abilities. I'm a big fan of video games and actually believe that they have the ability to increase cognitive ability, but not when they are this mindless.
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randxian posted February 10, 2010:

I saw the opportunity to use it to also show how the game, ironically, isn't multi-player compatible.

Ahhhhh..... Okay, now it makes more sense.

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