Hello Kitty Online is a PC-exclusive, free to play MMORPG developed by Sanrio Digital and published by Aeria Games in North America. Though it takes place partially in the Hello Kitty universe, it is also set in stylized versions of real life locations.
It was released in Japan first, in July '09, and in Europe in September '09. The game follows the story of the a hero who helps Hello Kitty and her friends wake up from an eternal, deep sleep in order to confront a "mysterious and malevolent power". Other characters from Sanrio's franchises appear, usually as quest-givers, such as Keroppi and Badtz-Maru.
The world of Hello Kitty is portrayed with two dimensional sprites, and is viewed from a top-down isometric perspective. The colors are bright and joyful. Iconic Sanrio characters are drawn with a loving attention to detail. Though it is a frequently requested feature, players cannot play as a character of the Sanrio universe, such as Hello Kitty.
Instead, players are asked to create their own human character, designed with the cute aesthetics of the Hello Kitty universe. The initial clothing and hair options are very limited, as Hello Kitty Online functions on the microtransaction model and players are encouraged to pursue items at the mall to customize themselves. Once the character is created, the player arrives via ship and is given their first mission, to scavenge various items from plants and to combat snails with bright pink shells.
Surprisingly enough, HKO includes many rich features which can be described as staples in the MMO genre. Players gain experience, craft items and complete quests. However, keeping with the tastes of the female demographic that gravitate to Hello Kitty, violence is kept to a minimum. Players can't die - if they run out of hit points they merely pass out. Foul language is not allowed, and the writing of the quests is kept appropriate for children. Most experience in the game is earned through collecting items, not from combat.
Because resource collection is such a paramount skill for the player, it is divided into three primary types - woodcutting, gathering, planting and mining. Because a player may only pick a primary and a secondary skill, this forces players to trade with each other to craft high level items and complete quests. The crafting system is also divided into four subtypes - tools and weapons, clothing, cooking and furniture.
Players in Hello Kitty Online can build their own house and decorate it. The option to build a house is given a quest reward and takes massive resources. Players may also build their own farm, and is an excellent way to generate income in the game. Players may grow crops and sell them. In time, players can buy nicer farms.
Players may also keep pets in Hello Kitty online. When "clobbering" monsters, occasionally a rare card is dropped. A player can then use the card to gain help from the creature, making it the player's pet. Pets can be used to help carry more items, to buff the character as they play, and to help them collect resources. Pets gain experience and level along with your character.
Combat in Hello Kitty is also kept as non-violent as possible. Players can stun enemies long enough to loot them for quests, but it's impossible to kill them. Player versus player combat doesn't exist, and instead social interaction is based around cooperation and chatting. Traditional weapons like swords and knives do not exist in Hello Kitty Online. Instead, objects like umbrellas and magic wands are used to "clobber the forces of evil."
Locations in Hello Kitty Online are instanced, meaning two players in the same location might not see one another. This makes the social networking features more critical so friends can meet each other.
To encourage social interaction with other players, an economic system based on "loyalty points" is used. Players gain points from social activities like blogging and making friends in-game. These points may be spent at the mall to buy items. A more immediate way to buy items is with "Aeria points," which can be obtained with a credit card.
Games aimed at the teenage-girl demographic tend to escape the attention of the mainstream video game press. Sites like IGN and Gamespot did not review the final game.
However, the closed beta gathered a handful of feedback from a few players and the media. The feedback was mixed, but mostly positive. IGN.com's review of the beta concluded that "Hello Kitty Online is shaping up to be a pretty fun MMO for the younger, less battle hungry crowd." Destructoid praised the MMO, describing it as a "face-melting cute explosion".
- OS: Windows 2000 / XP / Vista 32-bit
- Processor: Intel Pentium 4 @ 1.5 GHz (or similar)
- Memory: 512 MB of RAM
- Hard Disk Space: 5 GB
- DirectX: 8.0
- DirectSound support
- Flash 10 plug-in (for Internet Explorer)
- Broadband internet connection (256k or higher)
- Processor: Intel Pentium 4 @ 3 GHz (or similar)
- Memory: 1 GB of RAM
- DirectX: 9.0 (or higher)
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