Fortune Street boasts a tried and true formula, but its target audience may be a bit too specific
Do you like simple finance? How about Monopoly or other board games? Are you a die-hard Mario and Dragon Quest fan, so much so that just seeing them on screen makes you happy? Well then have I got a game for you, Fortune Street.
Fortune Street is a digital board game that hearkens back to Monopoly. The game was developed by Square Enix and has its roots in a classic Japanese series called Itadaki Street. The game features some of your favorite Mario and Dragon Quest characters attempting to purchase property and stock to amass the highest net worth. Each player starts with some cash and then rolls a die to move around the board. Each board in the game, of which there are many, has a net worth goal. A winner is declared when someone reaches that number and then returns to the bank square or if any player goes bankrupt, the player with the highest net worth wins.
The game features two types of play, Free Play and Tour Mode. Free Play allows you to play local or online and to pick any character, any unlocked board, and any combination of CPU and human players. Tour Mode has you playing through each board to complete objectives against pre-determined CPU players. Tour Mode allows you to unlock characters and boards to be used in Free Play.
On each board are property, suit, and special squares along with one bank square. Property squares can be purchased and then invested in to increase the amount paid when opposing players land on the square. Players receive a bonus for owning property that is connected or in the same color district. The suit squares; heart, spade, diamond and club, are collected by landing on or passing over them. Once you have collected them all you can return to the bank and receive a promotion, which gives you cash. The special squares have a variety of functions including drawing bonus cards, playing mini games and manipulating the board’s layout.
The real strategy of the game lies in property management and stock purchasing, which is what sets it apart from its better known predecessor. Players are allowed to purchase stock in any district on the board whenever they pass by the bank. This purchase increases property value in the area and also allows you to collect dividends whenever money is collected in that district. It sounds simple but, trust me, it is far more complex than most other games of this type. However, there is an easy mode that removes districts and stocks, making the game much simpler and shorter.
This strategy is both the success and downfall of Fortune Street. Its complexity makes the game entertaining and extremely replayable, but also puts this game outside the “party game” category. It’s not something you can just pick up and play. Four-player games on the more complex boards can take hours to complete, most of which is dedicated to only managing stock and collecting suits because properties are all purchased in the first eight to 10 turns. Also, because of the length of the game, it is best to be played with other people, preferably in the same room. There is an online component, but Nintendo’s lack of game chat makes it a bit of a boring experience.
Another issue with the game is the use of the Mario and Dragon Quest characters, environments and sound. For the most part they are completely superfluous and appear to only be included as a way to sell the game. You can only select these characters when playing Free Play, otherwise you play as your Mii. Not that it would matter because every character is exactly the same; no special bonuses or weaknesses. In fact, the inclusion of these characters slows the game down tremendously, as they have text comments for everything they do. They are repetitive and annoying, but thankfully can be turned off. The environments offer no effect on gameplay whatsoever and are merely in place as a background to provide a theme for the board layout.
Gameplay itself is quite easy. You press a button or shake the Wiimote to roll the die and then use the directional pad to move your character. There is a very simple menu system that allows you to make any other selections you need. Strangely, there is no pointer support, which is a bit of a missed opportunity as it would make navigating menus even easier.
Graphically, it’s your typical Wii fare. It’s vibrant and the characters look familiar, but it is not breathtaking at all and environments are very simple.
Fortune Street is not a game you play at parties, it is a game you have a party to play. When you have a group of board game enthusiasts in the same room manipulating stocks, shifting properties and striving to obtain the goal, the game is a blast. But as a single player, or even casual party affair, it just doesn’t offer the excitement or ease needed to be successful. Fans of Mario and Dragon Quest might find it interesting, but these licenses offer nothing in the way of gameplay. Overall, a great experience for some people, just not for all.
Review copy supplied
Tested on Wii