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Fortune Street - Preview

posted 23 Nov 2011, 09:46 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 10 Aug 2012, 06:04 ]
Unlike Super Mario 3D Land where I could try a few levels and have a good idea of what the game's foundations are, testing out Fortune Street for the first time took a longer period of time by comparison. To ensure I got the "full" experience, I made sure to put in about an hour's worth of playtime (give or take) into the preview build I got to test out this month. And if there's one thing I could take away from my recent experience with it, it's that Fortune Street offers a different experience compared to what I've already been exposed to with other games of this genre.

In the build I tested out, there were five characters to choose from, with three of these taken from SQUARE ENIX franchises. Characters had no voices during gameplay, however speech bubbles with text would appear at the start of a person's turn or when an event took place. This version of the game featured a single map that you could play on with a Bowser-themed environment as a backdrop, complete with lava and a small army of Dry Bones characters appearing on occasion.

At the outset, the game will inform you of the financial target you need to reach which serves to regulate gameplay across longer-than-30-minute sessions. To get started, all four participants are given a medium supply of spending money they can use as they explore the map. As far as actually moving around the board goes, the demo was mostly D-Pad based with no pointer use to be seen. Dice rolls, however, were handled with a shake of the Wii Remote or a press of the A Button. 

All of the vacant property spaces on the board have signs indicating how much Gold is required to claim that space as your own. Each space varies not only in the property type (like, for instance, a grocery or a toy store), but also where it stands in the stock market. Certain spaces acquire profit margins that will enable you to accumulate wealth faster than others, so it's important to consider these important details prior to purchasing. Should you decide to go through with the purchase, the space will be clearly marked as yours with some branding plastered onto the small structure and your character's colour applied to the space itself. 

Property value or max capital will increase if you can successfully link a series of spaces together. But given the omnipresent mentions of Monopoly whenever this game is brought up, you might have guessed this already. As you do that, you can accumulate assets for yourself which can then be invested into the same properties you manage. From the player menu, you can opt to manage your shops by upgrading, selling or auctioning them off entirely. The auction process in particular is easy to follow, with price negotiations going back and forth amongst interested players.

While your main goal is to reach the financial target, left to their own devices, players might grow weary of the main promise without having something else to keep the game moving away from a standstill pace. Although not clearly explained from the get-go, it became evident that all players had a secondary goal of gathering the four suit shapes at the corners of the map. Once collected, they then need to be deposited into the Bank space which, in this case, was located in the center of the board. You don't need to have an exact dice roll to add to your suit collection or make a deposit; simply passing over these spaces will do the trick. When deposits are made, you'll get promoted, which acts almost like a real-life salary increase. Principally, though, the biggest benefit this provides is significant increase in any profit gained from opponents who land on your properties.

Keeping on the subject of moving things along, the board also featured a little hut where you could participate in very simple mini-games. These include throwing a dart at a spinning wheel or a memory activity using items hidden inside coin blocks. These were single-player only, which got me thinking if team activities will be introduced later on in the game. Furthermore, it's certainly possible that the available mini-games varies depending on the map -- in fact, I'm hoping that that's the case. I also noticed some rows of cards appeared on-screen at a couple points during the game that led to temporary events like having all shops closed for a few turns. While I didn't get to see the full force of these being used, I definitely liked the thought process behind them.

Obviously, the online component was absent from the preview build, but this is definitely something that especially excites me about this game. The ability to play online is something that has been requested at length once Mario Party hit the Wii, so depending on how well the implementation turns out, maybe that'll send a strong signal to Nintendo that they can make it work. 

Overall, I was very pleased with my first playtest of the game. My only complaint is that I found the target a little high since the level dragged on a bit towards the end. Still, I found it mildly amusing to play, especially as Slime from the Dragon Quest games seemed to be dominating for most of the game. Having just said that, though, I don't think Fortune Street is a game that is meant to offer the same kind of amusement seen in the Mario Party titles. As a matter of fact, after having played the game myself, I now think that comparisons to Mario Party are a little unfounded. Not just because of the minimized use of mini-games, but Fortune Street has a slightly more serious and focused tone to it. Thankfully, from what I can see, this does not serve as a deterrent to the fun factor.

The full version of Fortune Street surely has much to offer that I still have yet to see. But based on my experience with the game so far, I am definitely looking forward to reviewing this title upon release.