Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade Nintendo Switch Review

Plainly put, Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade is just a straight-up good time.

By Daavpuke, Posted 26 Oct 2023

Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade has been a Netflix exclusive for a while now. Like every game on the streaming service, not a lot of people notice that it's there. So, the Nintendo Switch version of the rhythm runner, which comes with 20 new musical tracks, is a fresh start to get some eyes towards a larger, casual audience.

The gameplay in this feature is self-evident. There is a beat, which can be helped along with adjustable options like a metronome. A series of Hello Kitty characters move along a guided road to the rhythm of that pulse, which includes the act of changing dancers or using their special skills, such as a protective shield. There are three lanes, which can be filled with either coins for upgrades, health and skill recharge pies - they had to use something - or obstacles. Periodically, the characters will pose for a photoshoot with limited time inputs. Playing the game is as simple as managing all these elements in a timed fashion.

Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade, Nintendo Switch, Review, Screenshots

With this easy-peasy first layer, it seems pretty enticing for Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade to be the game to play with younger kids, especially with its bright, sugary visuals. On that note, the game also offers a low-sensory mode, so you don't need to worry about stimuli overload as much. Still, there are a few wrinkles here that make this game pretty spicy to leave with an infant and expect them to do well.

For one, juggling skills will become a requirement. Characters have to respond at the right time and, with a lengthy cooldown on these skills, this will require some finesse that can't be brute forced, even in the easy mode. A hammer knocks out a friend pretty quickly, so getting the shield up when it matters is vital to survival. Tuxedo Sam, who resets cooldowns, can help, but even the dapper penguin gets tired.

Secondly, the later stages will also have their unlockables gated behind high scores. This means that Hello Kitty and the gang really need to optimize their powers. Collecting friends or destroying fences yields extra points, which are necessary to get new characters. The very last unlock is fan favorite, Kuromi, because this game knows what it's doing.

The goth kitty will require blood, sweat and tears to get past the last hurdle of 9000 points. Particularly as Kuromi waits at the end of a full run, this can be a daunting task. Luckily, there's a way to cheese the game, so I'll just tell you: If you're not going to reach your goal, you can close the application before crossing the finish line. The game will remember your last position and you'll be able to retry the stage, without redoing a full run. Spare yourself the torture.

Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade, Nintendo Switch, Review, Screenshots

The game's map also clearly pays tribute to a classic like OutRun, by having its map mimic the splitting road of the arcade classic. There is some inspiration at play here, which is the most true for the improved soundtrack. Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade doesn't feature recognizable hits; that's not this game. Instead, they've scoured the depths to find tracks that "sound" recognizable, while being virtually unknown.

Looking up some of the songs in this game comes up practically empty, which you wouldn't think when hearing these bangers. Most music in here barely has any online presence, if at all, but somehow ended up in the game. Matinee by Cherry Tiger has about five thousand plays on YouTube, though you'd mistake it for a summertime classic. Pop Beer Sausage, which is an absolutely stellar J-pop cut, is made by Himiko, which has barely a hundred listeners on Spotify.

These virtual ghosts reminded me of the music philosophy of Vince Staples. In an interview, the artist revealed the importance of creating music to be synched, meaning that the tracks can be licensed out to things like video games. During that talk, Staples mentioned that Call of Duty paid him as much for a single track that it repaid the budget for his entire album. You might not have heard of Vince Staples, but you've heard his music somewhere! You will feel that same instant familiarity with the soundtrack of Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade, which is a very hard trick to pull off.

Some light downsides exist in Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade as well, unfortunately. Most specifically, the motion controls that feel straight out of an idol concert require very intense flailing that seems way too energetic for this cutesy release, let alone it being hard to maintain for a full run. Additionally, some of the progression is clearly pasted from mobile game currencies and objectives, which is bizarre since the Netflix version has no monetization either.

Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade, Nintendo Switch, Review, Screenshots

There are no in-game transactions in the Switch version, so there being an odd mobile game remnant is just plain tacky, even if it's not the end of the world either. A much bigger crime is that there isn't even a music player to easily access the aforementioned anonymous bops, though there is supposedly an online playlist forthcoming that wasn't provided to us at the time of writing.

While Hello Kitty and Friends Happiness Parade might not be expansive and, at times, a little tricky, its most impressive quality is that it radiates fun, like a Hello Kitty game should. This rhythm game is downright jubilant, even in its limited scope, which will make it easily playable and entraining for an extended audience. Particularly as its music is the driving force, the game has a simple, entrancing quality that can forgive a lot of its milder, frustrating parts.

(This review was based on an older build provided to us earlier in the year. Discrepancies may apply.)

Daav Valentaten(@DaavPuke)
Editor-In-Chief, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Switch, Mobile
Publisher(s): Netflix, Rogue Games, Inc.
Developer(s): Netflix, Dabadu Games, Rogue Games, Inc.
Genres: 3D Platformer
Themes: Adventure, Music
Release Date: 2023-10-26

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