gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure Is Good Actually

From passing reference in a South Park episode, to full-blown playable game, Sunblink Entertainment’s Sanrio-themed adventure looked to be another cynical cash-grab. I didn’t think it could be anything more than another miserable, thread-bare, micro-payment infused casino masquerading as a game. I was very, very wrong.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure is based, actually.

My character, a sort of lion thingy in white, yellow and pink wearing a dress and witches hat. Standing next to Kuromi, Sanrio’s bat-eared edgy goth character.
Me and my buds zooming down a zipline: it’s me, Chococat and Pochacco- though you can’t really make out the details. It’s a top down picture and the zipline cuts diagonally bottom left to too right across an ocean.
My character from my bugged game. A bird thingy with a little tuft of feathers. I’m sat next to Gudetama who’s an extremely relatable lazy egg character. Literally just the egg yolk sort of loading about. We’re in front of some kind of resort building with stairs, exotic plants and two wooden torches in the foreground.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure is… really good actually.


And not just in an “oh it’s funny how a game about Sanrio characters is actually passable” way. I mean this game is astonishingly, ridiculously good for a game about Sanrio characters.

At a glance it looks like a two bit knock-off of Animal crossing and, indeed, it adopts some of the franchise’s tropes- you’ll explore, gather resources, craft things, catch bugs, fish, we all know the drill. But upon putting far more hours than I’d like to admit into this game, I found at least as much in common with Bugsnax or A Short Hike. HKIA is a casual, relaxing, slow paced adventure built around a mostly linear narrative that guides you through unlocking and exploring new regions. But it’s not just a simple adventure- it has puzzle shrines, albeit simple ones. That’s not the only thing borrowed from Breath of the Wild; you’ll also find yourself contending with a very familiar looking stamina wheel as you climb or swim your way around. As such the lure to try and sequence break, stubbornly climbing your way up things that perhaps should not yet be climbable, is strong and – of course – I managed to break the game by having items I probably shouldn’t have.

A sort of isomeric puzzle level with a regular grid-like structure of blocks forming platforms upon which you move boxes into switches.
A fishing mini game showing a balance style meter where you must press the corresponding direction to keep a cursor centred as you reel in a fish.

It has fishing and … puzzle shrines!!?


It’s a simple game. But I like simple games. The older I get, the more I want something I can just lose myself in without thinking too much.

Gameplay is stretched over multiple days, but not in a “you must wait 24 hours for this house to finish building, or spend £1.99 to build it now” way. Hello Kitty Island Adventure tries to dole itself out in measured daily doses, limiting what you can do each day. Only three gifts to each character, resources won’t respawn, that sort of thing. Sometimes this means you’re totally roadblocked for progress and must put the game down until the next day.

The game’s economy – unlike the cash-driven capitalist dystopia of Animal Crossing – is fuelled by friendship. There are more common resources that are almost a stand-in for cash, but there’s no explicit currency. Everything is traded for, which may mean swapping some resources for an item, or giving gifts to level up the friendship meter of each character. Gifts are reciprocated and levelling up friendships grants access to bonus items and meters out the game’s story quests.

Much of the crafting economy feeds into this gift-giving process. You can level up friendships faster by giving more appropriate, rarer gifts and these are often attained by finding the raw materials and crafting them yourself. You can also bring new visitors to the island by crafting furniture and furnishing little single-room villas, each of which must be unlocked with yet more resources found on the island. You don’t have your own home, either, your role in the game is altruistic almost to a fault. You are – at least – afforded the luxury of swappable outfits and you can even recreate your character on a whim, giving you the opportunity to try out the new colour swatches you’ll unlock along the way.

An isometric view of a furnished room. There are food items on the floor. A little pink mirror. A pink bed.
The character editor. It’s showing my pink yellow and white lion thingy with a pink witches hat and candy corn-like dress.

Decorate houses. Decorate yourself. This is a friendship and altruism simulator that’s a far cry from Animal Crossing’s dystopian capitalist rat race.


Hello Kitty Island Adventure also works with the Razer Kishi, which has been gathering dust since I stopped playing Bugsnax. That’s a game controller you clamp onto an iPhone, for the uninitiated. It’s a lot easier to play the game with a controller, though some UI elements – such as the item select radial menu – are still easier to tap. And you can do just that- using a controller doesn’t prevent you from using the touchscreen and vice versa. I suppose it makes sense to have comprehensive controller support, since there are macOS and tvOS versions (though mouse and WASD work just fine in macOS).

There’s clearly something to this Apple Arcade. I activated my free trial to play Hello Kitty and I don’t regret it. This is the first mobile game I’ve played since dabbling in Genshin Impact, and it not only not awful, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It’s absolutely refreshing to be able to play something on my phone that isn’t saddled with a dizzying array of nonsense currencies, gambling and deliberate attempts to frustrate you into paying to skip gameplay. And yes, I’m absolutely the kind of snarky git who’ll respond to a mobile game press release with: “Why would I want to pay to NOT play the game!?” Miss me with that garbage, please. More games like Hello Kitty Island Adventure, please!

So uh, don’t wait up, give the game a try and send me your Gudetama selfies.

Monday, July 31st, 2023, Blog.