Welcome to Fortune Street, the only place where buying and selling stocks, and investing in businesses for profit doesn’t make you part of the “1%”. You can forget about your fancy suit, shiny Italian loafers, and expensive leather briefcase, because this isn’t an actual street, but rather a board game for Wii that tasks players with becoming the richest mogul. The series has had a very long run in Japan, but this is the first time Nintendo has brought it to North America. In a quarter of what seems to be mostly low key releases from the Big N, it should be interesting to see if this game generates cash flow or ends up needing a bailout.
At the beginning of each game you are given a target amount of money to make and a small starting fund. Once your net worth hits the target amount, you have to safely make it back around the board to the bank with the minimum still in your pocket or you will have to continue playing until you’ve made back the difference. Money is made by purchasing the shops on the board, so that when other players land on them they will have to pay you a fee. When you land on one of your own shops, you have the option of investing money in one of your own spaces to improve it. Improving it makes prices higher, and therefore earns you more gold when opponents are unfortunate enough to hit one of your properties. The general idea is like a Mario/Final Fantasy/Dragon Quest themed Monopoly game, but with a few little twists.
There is also a sort of stock market in the main mode of Fortune Street, though rather than investing in businesses you will be buying stock in one of the game’s “districts”, which are indicated by what color the squares in a section of the game board are. Stock prices go up when buildings in a district are improved, or someone buys a quantity of stock over 10 shares. Stock prices go down if a number of shares greater than 10 is sold. It would be easy to skip over this detail of gameplay, but it would be foolish to considering the fact that stockholders earn money when ANY shop in a district that own stock in his visited and a fee is payed out to another player.
On your way around the game board, you will have a few chances to draw a card from a board which can either have an effect on the game such as driving the value of all shops down 15%, or they will trigger a mini-game. There is a wide range of mini-games, with options such as betting on a Slime race or simply spinning a roulette-style wheel to determine who gets a bonus. Drawing a straight row of cards nets a cash bonus which continuously increases as you draw more cards from your row.
The real estate, stock market, and mini-game elements of Fortune Street all come together to form a gameplay experience that is fun overall, albeit a little slow-paced. During the time I spent playing with the CPU controlled characters, I found myself wishing I could just play a game with one opponent instead of three. This slow pace is further enhanced by the CPU characters’ ENDLESS PRATTLING. Thankfully, after exploring the options menu I found that this senseless banter can be shut off. If this “jug of molasses on a cold winter’s day” pace is too grueling for you, there are quicker game modes with slightly varied rules to explore.
Any fun that is to be had in Fortune Street is hindered by lack of effort put into the graphics. The colors are kind of “blah” and some characters seem to have an extreme case of the “jaggies”. The environments the boards hover over seem to be nothing more than animated screen captures from various Square Enix and Nintendo games. This is a stark contrast to Mario Sports Mix, another Nintendo/Square Enix co-venture, which was like a constant barrage of colorful, shiny smoothness on the eyes. Perhaps the development team felt that the type of person who would enjoy a game like this would be so stodgy that vivid visuals would be insulting to them, but even if that were true that decision is one that has left this game looking very dull and flat.
The slow-paced “buy low, sell high” gameplay of Fortune Street may seem like tedium to some, but it is obvious there is at least a small niche for this game. The core mechanics work great, and are even kind of interesting, but overall it lacks the shine and polish typically seen on a game published by Nintendo. However, with very few noteworthy games left in the Wii’s foreseeable future, it may be a great idea for Wii owners to occupy Fortune Street — at least until Mario Party 9 hits shelves early next year.
|The buying and selling of property and stocks is handled well, and some of the mini-games are fun.||This is an incredibly slow-paced game, and doesn't even seem to try to push the Wii to the edge of its graphical limits.|
|Verdict||Would-be entrepreneurs and stock market dabblers will be right at home on Fortune Street.|