Hello Kitty Online Review
Up until very recently I had never played an MMO of any kind. I've been playing games for decades but the idea of MMOs just did nothing for me. I didn't like the idea of having to find other people to play with and certainly didn't like having to deal with all sorts of personality defects that seem to popup when people get behind the anonymous wall of the internet. Then after a misunderstood joke between me and my editor I ended up with Hello Kitty Online at my doorstep with a big "Review Me" sticker on it. Alrighty then...
My initial idea on the game was that my wife would actually play and review it. She's not a gamer but has been known to throw down on occasion with some Rock Band, maybe a little Lego Star Wars, and once I saw her interested in GTA. The theory was that she would appreciate the Hello Kitty world more than I might and she would also be able give a female point-of-view to the game which seemed to be more of the target market. Unfortunately, for reasons we'll get to throughout the review, she didn't last long with the game, so this review is kind of a mix between both of our experiences in the Sanrio created world.
First off, this is one very colorful world. Hello Kitty Online (HKO) has been in various stages of development for several years but one thing it never changed was being a Hello Kitty game and including all of the sugar-coated goo that comes along with that. So be prepared to see a whole lot of insanely bright locations with an overload of cuteness. But to be very fair, who the game is made for will love the colorful worlds and the Disneyland-like music that inhabits it. What HKO is trying to do is create a very social environment where the player creates blog postings, trades emails, generates a huge friend listing, and other social networking ideas all centered around the Hello Kitty universe.
Account creation was a little strange but getting the newest patches was pretty easy, so overall you should be set-up and ready to go in fairly quick time. One fun part of this was I now have a "@hellokitty.com" email address, which is pretty awesome. The character creation does not give you a whole lot of options and you can't even change things like your shirt color, but for reasons I never figured out you could chose your blood type. Blood type? Really? In a game aimed at children parents are going to suddenly find themselves getting into a conversation with little Sally about blood types? Right.
So you create your little AB type avatar and you go through a tutorial that proves to be both very detailed and totally unhelpful. This is where my wife started to have the first complaints. She was pretty confused with the large number of information screens in the game and felt it was easy to lose track of important stats. I would tend to agree with her on that point. For a game that is squarely aimed at children, there were way too many things to keep track of. The tutorial would show you how to do something as simple as walking but left you guessing at where you should be walking to and what you should do once you even got there. The controls are mouse based with the left button used for movement and the right for interactions. Getting your character in the exact spot on screen in order to start a conversation with either a NPC or another player was often frustrating.