Straight up, had I been able to play more Fortune Street prior to compiling my end of the year list, it would have had a decent shot at cracking it. It would have been near the bottom sure, but that’s still pretty high praise. Leading up to the game’s release I thought it was something akin to Mario Party and having not had a good MP fix in several years, I was intrigued and ended up kind of blind buying the game shortly after its release. I didn’t get a chance to play it until recently and what I found was a completely different beast all together.
Fortune Street is actually the first of a popular Japanese series of games to be brought to North America. It features a collection of characters and locations from the Mario and Dragon Quest universes and very much resembles Monopoly at its core. If that concept doesn’t intrigue you at all, then you really shouldn’t bother here. If you are intrigued, then oh my friend you are in for a treat.
Whether you’re playing alone, with real human friends, or online, there are two different ways to play Fortune Street. The first is Easy Mode. This is the mode that very much mirrors the game of Monopoly. Each of the selectable boards has a different target amount and the first player to reach it is the victor. This immediately removes one of the more, let’s say problematic, elements of the Monopoly board game – the fact that it can go on for-fucking-ever. At least this way you have a goal to strive for and you know that no matter what, at some point this thing has to stop.
In Easy Mode, you maneuver the board, buying up properties. The more properties you have that are side by side, the more they are worth. You can also sink additional money into them to increase their values even further. Sound familiar? Exactly. You know how this all goes down. You also earn money by collecting four face cards that are scattered around the board and making it back to the bank. This earns you a new promotion level and the higher the level, the higher the salary. That’s about the gist of it, now play until either one player reaches the target amount, or one runs out of money.
Now if you select the standard mode, all of the above rules apply only now stocks are brought into the equation. Each board is divided into different districts where you can buy stocks and invest. This is the way to play the game. There is nothing quite as satisfying as snatching up all of the stores in a district where you own a ton of stocks, then just dumping as much capital into each one as possible until each one nets you about 5,000 if someone lands on them. It can lead to some pretty intense late game changers and makes each trip around the board tenser than the last.
Although a round of Fortune Street is definitely shorter than a real-life game of Monopoly, you should still be ready for a time sink, which may be a deal breaker for a lot of people. You can increase the text speed and cut out any character dialogue that motors things along, but you are looking at at least 90 minutes for even the shortest game. In Single player it’s less of an issue because you can save and come back anytime. But what’s insane is that there is no option to do this in multiplayer! I really see no reason not to have this. If you’ve invested 3 hours into a game and one of the players can’t continue, you’re forced to either go on without them or just bail on the game completely. The very first game we played, my Wife was falling asleep while playing but was forced to go on until the game was done. Not a great first impression. So never ever start a game unless you have thoroughly questioned everyone to make sure they don’t dare leave the room until the game is completed.
As with Mario Party proper, multiplayer is definitely the way to play this game. It’s never as fun to screw over the AI as it is your friend who is sitting there with you. I was surprised however at just how robust the single player actually is. Each match earns you stamps that you can use to buy new outfits, actions and all sorts of things for your Mii character (which is unfortunately your only character option in the single player). But it can never beat shit talking your friend or significant other when they land on your highest value spot, knocking them to fourth and you to first. And if you don’t have friends who are willing to play then no worries because there is online multiplayer as well and even though I haven’t delved too far into it, what I have seem functions perfectly fine.
Unfortunately also like Mario Party, some of the game changers happen by pure luck and aren’t nearly as fun. For example, each board had a spot where you play a game of chance. I have lost two different games to the CPU after they won thousands of dollars in the match three game. It’s kinda shitty and I almost wish that aspect of the game wasn’t there. It leads to victories that feel unearned.
Those are really the only major complaints I have about Fortune Street. It’s by no means an amazing game, it’s just great great fun. In only a little over a week of frequent play, we have crossed the 18 hour mark and that number is just going to keep getting higher. It’s almost a nightly event now. This seems like a game for a very select crowd but if you are a part of it, this will be a goddamn delight.