Hello Kitty and friends are spending the day at the park—who will have the most epic adventures?
What Is Hello Kitty: Day at the Park?
Hello Kitty: Day at the Park is a set-collection game for 2 to 4* players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 25–45 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $30 for the retail copy of the game, or $60 for the deluxe edition (which includes a Hello Kitty mini-figure as well as acrylic character standees and item tokens in place of the cardboard).
*If the campaign reaches $75k, components will be included for up to 5 players.
Hello Kitty: Day at the Park was designed by Roberta Taylor and published by Maestro Media, and features artwork of various Sanrio characters.
New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.
Hello Kitty: Day at the Park Components
Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and does not reflect final component quality. In particular, all the cardboard pieces in the prototype were laser-cut, so there’s a little soot on them and they look a little grimy. The prototype tiles also have a border so the illustrations on them aren’t flush against adjacent tiles.
Here’s what comes in the box:
- Starting Tile
- 48 Park Tiles
- 48 Adventure Cards (28 Easy, 20 Medium)
- 4 Character Figures (Hello Kitty, Pochacco, My Melody, and Chococat)
- 4 Character Cards
- 4 Score Tokens
- 4 Nap Tokens
- 4 Player Aids
- 80 Item Tokens (20 each of Music Notes, Birds, Flowers, Cupcakes)
- 20 Attraction Tokens
The park tiles are a top-down view of a park, showing various flowers, bushes, ponds, and other features. For gameplay purposes, the main features that are important to note are the item icon on each tile, and the bushes that extend to some edges of the tiles. The icons are in red, yellow, green, and blue, so color-blind players may have trouble distinguishing some of these without additional markings.
The characters are, of course, official Sanrio depictions. The base game includes Hello Kitty, Pocaccho, My Melody, and Chococat. The prototype also included Badtz-Maru and Keroppi (seen above), who may be unlocked as stretch goals, and I’m curious to see if the others on the box cover (Pompompurin and Tuxedo Sam) are also stretch goals.
The adventure cards come in a few different types—food, nature, sports, and events—and difficulty levels. The base game includes easy and medium cards; the prototype included hard cards as well, so you’ll see those in the review, but they are a stretch goal that could be unlocked later.
How to Play Hello Kitty: Day at the Park
The goal of the game is to have the best day by having various adventures in the park.
Place the starting park tile in the center of the play area, with a supply of park tiles nearby. (You’ll remove a certain number based on the player count.) Set the item tokens nearby as well. Shuffle each of the adventure card stacks separately—easy, medium, and hard—and place them to the side, with the scoring bonus side down.
Give each player a character card, the matching character figure, and a nap token (placed blank-side-up on the character card). Each player can choose which side of their character card to use—one side has a scoring option, and the other has an ability to help you explore. Each player also gets 2 easy adventure cards and 1 medium adventure cards—each of these can be flipped to either side, with or without its scoring bonus. Each player draws 4 tiles.
The player who most recently went on an adventure is the first player.
On your turn, you place a tile, move your character, and complete adventures.
First, place a tile from your hand onto the map—the illustrations must line up, so bushes match up with bushes and blank sides match blank sides. Place an attraction token (bench) onto your tile.
Each tile has one of the item icons on it—notes, birds, flowers, or cupcakes—in one of four colors. If the tile you placed matches the tile it’s touching, you can get a free item. If the items match, you get one token of that item. If the color matches, then you get one token of either of the items.
Then, you move your character up to 3 spaces. (On the first turn, place it anywhere in the park before you move.) You collect the matching item for each space you move to. If you land on an attraction token, you may pick it up.
If you end your turn with another character, you get to high five them! The other player then moves to any adjacent space, and then you each get to take an attraction token (or get a free nap—more on that later).
After all that, you may complete adventures! If you have the resources shown on an adventure card, you may spend them to score the adventure card, setting it in your scoring pile and adjusting your score on the track. Note that you also get a discount: for whatever icon you are currently standing on, you can spend one less of that item for each adventure you complete.
You may use your character ability during your turn, and then flip your nap token to the “Zzz” side. You may not use the ability again until you take a nap (using a bench token).
You may spend attraction tokens on your turn, either for the bench or for the other icon on the back:
- Bench: Flip your nap token from the “Zzz” side to the blank side.
- Tricycle: Move to any tile, and then get the corresponding item. (Do not pick up the attraction token, if any.)
- Butterfly: Look through the removed tiles and place one, gaining items as if you just played it at the beginning of your turn or gain any 2 items.
- Exchange: Trade up to 6 of your items for other items.
- Ticket: Place one of your tiles at the bottom of the supply to draw a new one or place attraction tokens on two different empty tiles.
- Bear: This can be used as any item when completing an adventure.
At the end of your turn, draw a new tile from the supply, and if you completed any adventures, draw back up to 3 adventures. You may draw from any of the piles, and you may choose which side is up for each card.
Adventure cards each have a side with a scoring bonus. If you choose that side, you will get fewer points for completing the adventure, but have an option to score bonus points. Easy cards allow you to turn in a specific item for 2 bonus points. Medium cards will award bonus points based on leftover items at the end of the game. Hard cards will give bonus points for completing a specific type of adventure.
When a player draws the last tile from the supply, everyone gets one more turn (including the player who just drew the tile), and then the game ends. Score bonus points from the bonus side of your adventure cards if you meet their requirements. The player with the highest score wins, with ties going to the player with most completed adventures, and then most leftover items.
Why You Should Play Hello Kitty: Day at the Park
Hello Kitty: Day at the Park is a fairly chill game: you add to the park map, hop a few steps to collect some items, and then spend them to complete your adventures. There’s no confrontations, no stealing items from other players, no blocking people from getting to where they need to be—in fact, you actually high five each other when you meet, which is generally good for both players!
Over a decade ago, when I reviewed one of Robert Taylor’s earlier games, Octopus’ Garden, I remarked that it was very Canadian because it was so non-confrontational. But even there, you could try to take things from the market that somebody else wanted. Here, I guess you could try to claim an adventure card that somebody else hoped to take, but otherwise you’re all just out at the park, having fun alongside each other, doing your own thing. I think they call that “parallel play.”
So the gameplay is friendly to go along with the setting, which is great for folks who like being able to focus on their own tasks and not having to worry too much about what other players are doing. Yes, it’s a competition to score the most points, but in this game you don’t have to decide between working on your own gains or blocking somebody else’s. If you’re the sort of player who likes a bit more head-to-head competition, though, this may be a bit too gentle for you.
The tile-laying is pretty simple: all you have to do is make sure that the bushes and blank sides line up properly, but otherwise tiles can be placed pretty much anywhere, regardless of where your character is standing. Mostly it determines what item you get when you place it, so generally you’re looking for either a color match or an item match, and as the map grows, there are usually a lot of places to choose from. You also have 4 tiles in your hand to choose from, which is more than enough. I had one player tell me that after his first turn, he always played the new tile he drew and never used the other three he started with.
Items are plentiful and collecting them is easy—in addition to the one you get for placing a tile, you also get three more just by walking around, and several of the attractions also give you items. Plus, you also get to count the item you’re standing on when you complete adventures, so if you position yourself well, you could save up to 3 items (one per adventure) in one turn. The game mostly boils down to being the most efficient with your turns so you can keep scoring adventures, and maybe getting a little luck in the attractions you collect.
The items you need for each adventure are kind of random and aren’t always thematic. Sure, you need several birds for the bird-watching, but you also need birds for … cooking lessons? And it’s surprising how many activities require cupcakes. The names of the various adventures are fun and there’s a lot of variety, but really the differences in completing them are minor and the main factor is how many items you need depending on the difficulty level.
Some of my players felt like the scoring bonuses were a little stingy. One of the choices you make when you take an adventure card is whether to go for the bonus points side—you’ll score fewer base points, but have an opportunity for bonus points. For the easy card, it’s a difference between 3 items for 2 points or 4 items for 3 points. Medium cards cost 4 items, and will either give you 3 points (so the same as the easy with bonus) or 2 points, but with an extra point for every pair of a particular type that you have left over at the end of the game. That doesn’t seem like a great exchange rate, unless you manage to collect multiple medium bonuses that want the same item.
The hard cards have a tricky trade-off: 6 items for 5 points (the best rate so far), or only 2 points, but you get a bonus for every completed adventure of a specific type. That means you need to complete 3 other adventures just to break even. In one game I played, I happened to complete several event adventures, and then drew an hard card that wanted event adventures, so it made sense. But there have also been times where every hard card I drew wanted a type that I had none of, and with a limited number of turns, you can’t really count on getting enough of them done. Again, if you get lucky and you get multiple bonuses for the same type, that can add up, but that’s not a strategy you can bank on.
But, as I said, this is a game about having a fun day at the park, so maybe min-maxing your score is like trying too hard to enjoy yourself and being disappointed if you didn’t enjoy yourself as much as the next person. Maybe the real victory is the friends you make along the way? (Or maybe I just want you to think that so I can get more points!) Ultimately, Hello Kitty: Day at the Park is a cute way to while away some time with your friends, and I think Sanrio fans will appreciate this cheerful take on the characters at play.
For more information or to make a pledge, visit the Hello Kitty: Day at the Park Kickstarter page!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a prototype of this game for review purposes.