TGS 2005: Fukufuku no Shima Hands-On

We get to hear about our fate from this Japanese-exclusive fortune-telling game for the PSP.

TOKYO--Some games are destined to never have global releases, and Fukufuku no Shima, despite all its charm, seems to be one of those games. Unconfined to just one traditional genre, since it embodies elements of many different types, Fukufuku no Shima essentially boils down to a fortune-telling mechanism. There are things to do and collect, but ultimately players are expected to turn it on for a brief period each day, progress a tiny bit, get their fortunes, and log off. The game is powered by the famous Japanese fortune-telling school "My Birthday," which can assign very specific daily details based on your name, birthday, blood type, and gender. After inputting all of those details into the PSP, you're assigned an avatar to represent you, which, if you're female, is always a little girl with blue hair.

You start off in front of your home, which is simply a place to go back to and wander around, although you'll find more to do elsewhere in the game. As you walk around, you'll encounter different characters, up to 80 different fortune tellers, which have among them 56 different fortune-telling types. You might think that's a lot of types, and frankly, so do we, but we believe them all the same. After all, this game holds our fate in its hands. When you're dealing with your fortune, you have to be open for anything, which is why you'll encounter all kinds of crazy people and talking penguins who want to give you insight on your inner workings. And you know what, it works quite well.

Eager to hear our fortune, we went through the motions of talking to the appropriate creatures and unlocking the next area of the map, where the first fortune teller is located. After speaking with the beehived believer, she gave us the key to open up the next area--should we want to speak to someone else in the future--and then finally the much-awaited fortune. We were told that we were grumpy, with only two out of five stars for the day's mood meter. Since we had spent all day trying to squeeze through the publicly opened hallways of TGS, we suspected that the fortune was on to something. However, despite our foul and notably whiny mood, the game emphatically declared that we were working very hard and, in fact, that it was a "good day for work." The fortune went on to state that we were making very strong efforts today and that all of our friends believed in what we were doing. Furthermore, all of our hopes and dreams were going to come true. We had to go on to ask why we were only feeling two out of five stars when there were so many great things going on, but Fukufuku no Shima had no response. We plan to go back again tomorrow to see how things have changed and to find out more about how we're feeling.

The game, although focused on fortune-telling, doesn't deal with it exclusively. There are minigames that you can unlock, such as trivia and crossword puzzles. You can also connect with other Fukufuku no Shima owners wirelessly and swap vital statistics, like blood type, for example. This game was certainly cute and appealing, but in a very casual way. We still wouldn't mind seeing a US release, if for no other reason than to find out exactly when our hopes and dreams are all going to come true.

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