Hello Kitty debuted in the mid ’70s and is one of the most recognized characters in the world. The loveable cat has been in collaborations with other large franchises, such as Mobile Suit Gundam, which is huge in Japan. There have also been many video games based on Hello Kitty and her companions. The latest one, Hello Kitty and Friends: Happiness Parade, is a rhythm game for the Nintendo Switch and Android and iOS devices.
We tested out the game on the Nintendo Switch, and Hello Kitty and Friends: Happiness Parade is surprisingly fun with its upbeat soundtrack and its simple, tactical thinking. You’ll march down a parade route to collect health points, coins, and other items. Be careful, though: minions will lay down traps for you to get hurt and deplete your character’s health. Each stage lasts about an average of two to three minutes long.
You start with three characters (Hello Kitty, My Melody, and Pompompurin) and can unlock many more familiar friends while playing. Each character has their own unique ability. For example, Hello Kitty can turn the minions that drop traps on the parade route into friends, increasing your heart count. You can also use your coins to level-up your characters, reducing their technique cooldown timer, and to purchase outfits.
After choosing a team of three, you’ll enter a world map, though not that large, that consists of stages you can play on. However, the game doesn’t give you much free range. Instead, you’ll be given a strict road map depending on what stage you play. If you choose a harder difficulty, you can’t go back to an easier route. You have to play until your team’s health is depleted. Doing so will then reset the game’s map, and you’ll have to start all over.
Outside of the map, there’s not an option to freely choose a stage or a song to parade around for fun. All your playthrough is done on the map. So, if there’s a stage and song you thoroughly enjoyed that’s located further into the map, you have to play through all the stages, unlocking them beforehand to enjoy it again. The lack of freeplay is a missed opportunity here. After playing through a few times and restarting the map, the game becomes repetitive and feels too short. It’s nice for a short spin, but that’s about it.
Hello Kitty and Friends: Happiness Parade has the spark to be a fun rhythm game, but with a lack of gameplay depth, it stumbles before ending its parade.
A Nintendo Switch code provided for this review.