Hello Kitty first burst onto the scene in 1974 courtesy of Japanese company Sanrio, which designs and produces products solely aimed at the kawaii – meaning cute in Japanese – section of popular culture in the country. Since then, Hello Kitty has become one of the most recognised and successful brands in the world, appearing on fashion accessories, school supplies, starring in her own TV series; to now wandering across numerous countries in Around the World with Hello Kitty & Friends.
Travelling the world is no easy feat thanks to the cost of public transport these days; yet Hello Kitty seems to make her way around the globe with ease thanks to her own personal aeroplane. One minute you can be giving a helping hand at the American diners in the US, to next designing an outfit in fabulous France.
The main menu gives you a list of options to choose from when you’re in Hello Kitty’s room, so it’s up to the youngster in charge — this title targets young children — to decide what she should be doing with her day. Going Out allows you to select where you should embark on an adventure; there are six countries to choose from and four mini-games residing in each country, giving 24 games in total. There are a variety of activities to choose from, such as tapping to the rhythm of the music to designing colourful accessories. Each challenge consists of an easy and hard mode; easy mode tends to hold the player's hand by pointing to the correct piece of item or colour, depending on which game you’re playing at the time, while hard mode unsurprisingly requires more skill, demanding concentration from the player.
The gyroscope is utilized in a small selection of challenges, such as leading Hello Kitty down the river on a raft, where you have to guide her through obstacles that protrude from the water. This can often feel sluggish, as it can take a second for Hello Kitty to change direction after you’ve tilted the 3DS, causing her to bash into a rock or the wall. An AR card also comes packaged in the box, allowing the lovable feline to spring to life before your eyes. Put the card in various locations to snap some interesting shots, or why not jump into the photo yourself and pose with Hello Kitty? The picture is saved onto the SD card if you wish to print the photo and hang it on a wall; it will no doubt bring a smile to young children's faces.
Going Shopping allows you to visit all 15 countries, where you can purchase souvenirs and costumes using Puro - the game's currency - accumulated from each of the mini-game challenges. A delightful addition is the inclusion of fun educational facts about the country in which you’ve just visited. Did you know that Mount Fuji is 3776 meters high? It may not be common knowledge to most people, so it’s most definitely a welcome ingredient to learn as well as have fun. Dressing Hello Kitty up in the various costumes can often feel like a bland affair, however, as it doesn’t allow the player to channel their inner fashionista; it’s as simple as choosing an outfit and mixing up various styles from each of the countries. Further customization would have been worthwhile, as children love to run wild with their imagination and creativity.
The art style is quite plain, yet it's colourful and easy on the eyes. Most importantly, its basic appearance makes it easy to distinguish different options for the player. The music throughout the game is quite pleasant on the ears too, and no doubt it'll have young gamers tapping their foot along playfully while browsing each country and partaking in mini-games. Despite this it can get repetitive, however, causing the volume slider to stay down rather than up.
For the target audience of Hello Kitty’s global adventure on the 3DS, it delivers a range of activities that is enough to keep young children occupied for a short amount of time; despite this it falls short on longevity, as the most basic of challenges can be completed within a matter of seconds. Its charm and simplistic controls will appeal to the younger audience, but leaves little to the imagination for older children.