Have you ever wanted to play the stock market with Super Mario and Dragon Quest characters? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say no. However, it seems that Square Enix and Nintendo think differently. It may come as a surprise to discover that Fortune Street is actually a long running series in Japan called Itadaki Street and has been around since it first debuted on the Famicom in 1991. Fortune Street is developed by Square Enix (published by Nintendo) and has been very popular overseas, so the decision to bring it over here isn’t all that surprising. Nintendo has brought other Japan only franchises in Advance Wars and Fire Emblem to North America before with a good variety of success; this success is something they no doubt want to achieve with this new franchise as well. Will the North American audience open up to a game like Fortune Street?
Fortune Street is more than just a stock trading game (though that is one of its main concepts); it also plays like a board game. Players will play on one of 12 themed boards (6 Super Mario and 6 Dragon Quest), roll dice and buying as many properties as they can; it is a little similar to a certain famous board game. Each board has a target amount in which you need to build towards; when your net worth reaches the board’s target amount you will win. To win you need to not only buy properties but invest in them, as well as buy stocks from designated districts on the board. It may sound a little complex, but it is much easier when you actually play and learn the game hands on.
You can play Fortune Street alone, or with up to four players. Single player is pretty straight forward and only offers a few modes. There is free play which is just an exhibition game, or you can also try out Tour Mode. Tour Mode will allow you to play each board and acts as the game’s “Story Mode.” Characters are assigned to boards in Tour Mode and in Free Play you can pick your opponents. Both modes will only allow you to use your Mii, which is a major bummer. You can play with easy rules (just buying properties), or with standard rules which will introduce the stock market. As for the actual gameplay in general, I have a mixed opinion. While I enjoy the concept of this game and feel that it is implemented extremely well, it can be quite a bore to play alone. Games are too slow, and even though this can be toggled in the options, it can still take up to two or more hours to play. Fortune Street is geared towards a very niche market and it’s very possible that this specific market will be the only people that enjoy the game. If you were expecting a Mario party experience, you will be sorely disappointed.
Multiplayer can liven up things a bit if you’re around people that will enjoy the game’s slower pace. For example, I played with someone who wasn’t enjoying the game and it just brought the experience down for me. At least multiplayer allows you to select from the game’s wonderful roster of Dragon Quest and Super Mario characters, a feature that should have been put in the single player mode. I can see a competitive game unfold if you have the right mix of people playing with you, otherwise you may want to try the game’s online mode. I would love to talk about the online mode, but I was unable to connect to anybody online. It seems like this is a problem for many Fortune Street players as some quick research online turned similar issues. This is probably not a fault of the developers, but more likely that the online community for this game is very small. I did manage to connect to some players, but we were never ever able to get a fourth person.
There isn’t a whole lot to do in Fortune Street as once you’ve seen one board; you’ve pretty much played them all. I do like the fact that each board has its own theme song and atmosphere, but they don’t change the gameplay at all. I do feel that the game’s strongest asset is in the presentation itself including the amazing soundtrack. Completionists will enjoy unlocking different costumes, clothes, and even a variety of animations to assign their Miis, so overall I do feel that this game does have some replay value. Also due to the fact that it is a board game type experience there can be many repeat plays; I’m sure we’ve all had countless nights of Clue and Monopoly for example.
Overall, Fortune Street is a mixed bag. It offers a very unique stock market board game experience, but in saying that, it is definitely not for everyone due to its steep learning curve. Single player is tedious and boring, but Multiplayer has incredible potential. Gamers looking for a Mario Party experience are better off buying Mario Party 9. For the curious, I would recommend that you rent this title before committing to a buy.
Obtainment: Borrowed Review Copy