There have been a number if board games for the Wii. Inevitably, most usually involve moving around a board and then participating in a number of mini-games which, while fun, may not necessarily be ideal for those who want to sit back and relax. Absurd as it might seem, there are instances where playing a board game on the Wii is more fun than playing a physical version of the same game. Fortune Street (from Square Enix) doesn’t have a real physical form (that I am aware of), but it is an engaging and fun experience if you have the patience and the time.
Fortune Street is based on a computer board game series called Itadaki Street (by Yuji Horii of Dragon Quest fame) and marks the first appearance of this series in North America (of course, it is a hit in Japan). Similar to Monopoly, players roll a single die and move along the board, purchasing unoccupied properties as they go (or playing a shopping fee to another player for landing on a property owned by another). As you continue in the game (and should you have the scratch for it), you can purchase more property in the same “block” (should you land on those) or you can invest in your own existing properties (again, should you land on them – or the “bank square”) – both of which will increase the value of you properties, allowing you to levy a higher fee from folks who land on your properties.
This guy means business when he rolls.
But that is where the similarity with Monopoly ends. Outside of the easy mode, you have the option to invest in the stock market, which affects the value of properties. It is amazing how much investing in a block can do for your bottom line. To win, you have to try to make your fortune while making sure that you collect the four suit cards (diamonds. Clubs, spades, hearts) on your way. You finish the game when you do all of that and land on the all-important bank square.
The graphics are fairly basic – which is not really a hindrance to the game as they are entertaining. The same applies to the audio (both score and sound effects); again – simple. Really, as this is a board game, as long as the aesthetic factors are tolerable (being able to easily read any information being presented is key), they don’t need to be stellar. What is interesting to note about this is that, while the graphics and sound are relatively simple, the game-play itself is the most interesting aspect. The fact that there is a random element (the stock market) that is actually partially determined by players’ investments makes this something far easier to achieve using the Wii than could be done playing a physical version of this game (unless you are Rain Man).
Even though this game doesn’t push the envelope (visually), it’s still fun to look at.
There are fifteen different boards to choose from, but other that layout and appearance, there are no real hidden goodies between them. While this fact is a little disappointing, it is nice to know that players have the option to add a little variety to their gaming sessions.
The key to this game is patience; from the tutorial to the touring mode, you should plan to sink a fair bit of time into the game if you want to understand all of the subtleties of the title. Of course, it goes without saying that by sticking with it, you will be rewarded with a very rich board game experience. A decent venture, Fortune Street is not for the impatient; although, if you love board games, it has some merit going for it in terms of entertainment value. While the game could be played with generic characters, having the Mario and Dragon Quest franchises contained within capitalizes on the popularity of both to increase exposure to a game that is new to North America.