Fortune Street is a decent strategy board game, but the slow pace siphons away much of the fun.
- Wide variety of board designs
- Robust single-player mode with fun opponents and dialogue
- Plenty of extras to unlock.
- Can be slow-paced even on the highest speed settings
- Easy mode is too dull
- Doesn't hold up well as a party game experience.
In the days of yore, before Pong and the Fairchild Channel F, people looking for competitive experiences in the comfort of their homes amused themselves primarily with tabletop board games. Nowadays, we live in an age of electronic games, but this hasn't decreased the appeal of traditional board games. In fact, the advent of video games has given rise to some wholly original board-game-style experiences in digital form. Square-Enix's Fortune Street series is among these original "video board games." Despite being around for 20 years in its native Japan, Fortune Street on the Wii marks the franchise's Western debut, complete with characters from the Mario and Dragon Quest series--and a glacial pace that muzzles your enjoyment.
The Mario themes might conjure up images of Nintendo's long-running Mario Party series, but make no mistake: Fortune Street is a very different sort of board game experience. It's actually a lot easier to compare Fortune Street to Monopoly. You are placed on one of several Mario- or Dragon Quest-themed board designs, and you take turns rolling a virtual die to move around. Scattered across the boards are empty lots you can purchase when you land on them for the first time. When you purchase a space, a shop is built, and players landing on that space from that point onward must pay money to the owner. As you build more shops, you have the option to improve your property, raising prices and bolstering your net worth. Traveling around the board also nets you "suits" (hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs), which earn you extra money and benefits when a full set is brought back to the Bank space. To win the game, you must be the first to make it back to the Bank space with a certain net worth.
It's a bit more complicated than that, though. The game has two play settings--easy and standard--and the rules vary depending on which mode you pick. Easy mode grants growth, property value, and price bonuses for building shops next to each other on the board. Standard mode divides areas of the playfield into "districts." Building sets of shops within districts grants bonuses similar to building things side-by-side in easy mode, but with another distinct advantage: stock price boosts. Landing on the Bank or other set spaces in standard mode lets you buy stocks in certain districts, and as stock prices rise, so do property values. Stock prices and property values have a direct correlation: as one rises, so does the other, and vice versa. Stocks also pay out small dividends whenever a transaction occurs within a certain district. Playing wise with stocks is a good way to increase your net worth.
It wouldn't be a board game without a bit of chance thrown in, and Fortune Street provides simple, single-player minigames and random bonuses/penalties when you land on certain spaces of the board, keeping you constantly on your toes. There are also ways to mess with your opponents: if you have a lot of cash on hand, you can forcibly buy shops off of them for several times the asking price, or you can decrease the value of their properties by offloading a lot of stocks in a district they've invested heavily in.
Things might sound complicated, but the game provides a solid single-player tutorial for both play modes to help ease you into the rules. In fact, the single-player mode is surprisingly robust, featuring a bevy of boards to play on and Mario and Dragon Quest characters as rivals of varying skill levels. (If you're expecting to play as these characters, however, you'll be disappointed, because the only character you can use is your Mii.) By performing well in the single-player games, you earn stamps that can be used to purchase and customize clothes and animations for your Mii avatar. There are a lot of purchasable items, so if you want to get everything, you'll be playing for a while. Fortunately, single-player game sessions can be saved midgame, and if you don't feel like grinding, you can even set your player character to Out to Lunch mode and have the computer take over in your place.
Out to Lunch mode is likely to become tempting at times, because Fortune Street has a tendency to be a slow-paced game, even with the movement and text speed cranked up to max. Easy mode in particular begins to drag once all the property has been bought up; you find yourself circling the board waiting for someone, anyone, to get enough net worth to finally win. Standard mode can be infuriatingly slow in a different way as you wait for other parties to manage their stock portfolios and other assets. It's not unlikely for a single game session to drag on for a few hours.
It's this slowness and complexity that seriously hamper the appeal of Fortune Street as a multiplayer experience. The game offers far more careful strategy than a typical "party game," but at the expense of pick-up-and-play appeal. There's little in the way of direct player-to-player interaction except when money and property change hands--even the few minigames are strictly single-player. It's not a "grab off the shelf and play for a half hour" sort of multiplayer game: you need a group of people willing to commit a good chunk of time and effort to playing a somewhat complex finance management game. It's not a guaranteed crowd pleaser, and if you're hoping to play with younger companions, you're likely to have some very bored kids on your hands. At least if you can't find flesh-and-blood buddies with whom to run your own local campaigns, you can hop online to try to find some folks for Wi-Fi play.
Fortune Street is a serviceable board-game-style experience, but it comes with plenty of caveats: a slow pace, some initial complexity that's hard to ease new players into, lengthy single-session play times, and a lack of interaction with your opponents. It's certainly fun to snatch property up and reap rewards from unlucky foes, but it requires a great deal of patience and time commitment. If you and some friends are willing to make the investment, you might find rewards on Fortune Street; otherwise, you're better off sticking to something more immediately fulfilling.
If easy modes on games are a con, then it's near impossible for any games to score above a 9, seeing as the easy mode for almost every game is dull and boring.
This game is great! Someone else should have reveiwed it at Gamespot though. Cons being easy mode is dull and that its not a party experience. Umm.. easy mode is your complaint? If easy mode is too dull for you, play on a harder difficulty then; thats what they're there for. And you complain that its not a party game... we'll its not supposed to be. Do your reviews on other non-party games say that, no they don't. So, why should this one?
I play this whit my friends, we can choose play mario party X or MUA2 but, we like this game, may be because we are all engineers and likes numbers, but is a great game
i'd have to say the worst parts are that even if you are playing fast the quickest a match will end is 45 min to an hour. the music is one single track that plays forever i can't fricken take that crap. and you can get stuck on certain parts of maps for what seems like an eternity. while its an ok monopoly like game i can definitly see the few annoyances with it. i heard it has online play though so at least there's that.
Seriously? That negative point says easy mode is to dull? It's easy mode. I think they made it easy so people who didn't want it to be hard could play it easily.
It seems like this game really should be reviewed by a journalist that plays a lot of strategy type games as that person would be able to give a better take on this type of game than the person that did review it.
@Crono_07: Not yet. There is no "professional" board game review site and thus you have to wait a little bit longer. Probably more than usual as this was released as a videogame, not as a true board game.
@GNWPCD Well said, and your right, this is what is so frustrating at times, I see games released in Japan wondering why they aren't released here and it?s because of people like Heidi Kemps here, who are incapable of understanding more complex games or seemingly repetitive games. I?d like to see her review a chess game? heh heh. @Flamebeast4000 One word "Monopoly"
Why are the emblems so different from the listed good and bad? The list says one player mode is "robust...with fun opponents and dialogue" but the emblem says the characters are annoying... The steep learning curve and great multiplayer aren't even listed! I think this reviewer was playing the game as something it's not: a party game. Fortune Street is no Mario Party. It's more like Monopoly with added depth. When was the last time you pulled out monopoly as a party game? Also, should a learning curve really be all that terrible? Anyone who never played an fps or rpg before has to face a steep learning curve just to get into the game. In comparison to that curve, actually, Fortune Street's is negligible. I understand matches can drag on, but such is the case with most great board games. I don't understand why this game deserved a 6. It looks more like a 7-8 to me.
While I would like to play to decide for myself, I totally believe the drawn out aspect of it. I had the same issue with Mario Party 8. I wish Nintendo would realize it can be boring to watch a scene you already watched umpteen times and just want to play
After playing the Itadaki Street minigame in Birth By Sleep, I reckon this review is spot on. It drags out soooooo much it's not funny.
@Ronaldo27 [Quote]As someone who actually likes board games, this review seems pretty much useless. The analysis is shallow and the criticism on the pace appears to be the result of the reviewer's bias as videogames are usually frenetic. I guess I would have to wait till a board game site review it.[/Quote] Such as? Are there any? :O
I didn't realize this existed for Wii. The first one was for DS and only released in Japan. I just randomly found the Wii one. Hmmm... interesting. . .
As someone who actually likes board games, this review seems pretty much useless. The analysis is shallow and the criticism on the pace appears to be the result of the reviewer's bias as videogames are usually frenetic. I guess I would have to wait till a board game site review it.
I don't know how fair this review is. The reason Japan hasn't released the game versions of games in the US in the past is for the exact reasons that this review is complaining about. It's too difficult or hard for us simple Americans to figure out..etc. I think Final Fantasy II (IV) should teach us to start thinking differently here about such things and take the time to learn the game and put in the effort to enjoy it before condemning it for not holding our hand all the way through as too many games now a days do. I definitely am still interested in the game despite this review. I think its great we are finally getting this series here in the states and from what I have seen of it it looks like a lot of fun once you actually learn the game. Perish the thought you have to play the game a few times to learn it well? GASP!
Normally I steer clear of Nintendo's party games but I might give this one a go! Seems interesting enough for me to want to play.
This game is really addicting and can be awesome, but you gotta commit to its Steep learning curve and have Patience, you'll really enjoy this game if you can.
Sigh, I dislike Nintendo, and especially there party games, but I cant say no to Dragon Quest characters being involved, so I will pick this one up.
Hmm, I wonder why GS have added a comments section to the written reviews. I rather like avoiding the traditional complaining of the video review forums sometimes.