A parent's guide to Hello Kitty Island Adventure

Hello Kitty Island Adventure is a fantastically designed game on Apple Arcade filled with humor and fun quests. Here we provide the tools to help you figure out if it'll mesh with your kids.
Hello Kitty Island Adventure
Hello Kitty Island Adventure /

This one is a really interest one. While I've seen many games geared toward kids, it is rare to see one become an Apple Arcade exclusive. Luckily, I'm a writer with a degree which means I still use my college-issued MacBook and get to play this. And may I say, I (embarrassingly) found myself really enjoying this. Luckily, so did my kids.

On its face, Hello Kitty Island Adventure looks like it has a lot of similarities to Nintendo's massive hit Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It's a fair comparison but there are so many ways this game differs while still giving fans of Animal Crossing a much-needed fix.

The story of the game is simple and weird. You find yourself on a plane filled with famous Sanrio characters on their way to vacation. Hello Kitty greets you and tells you to go freshen up before landing and at that time you can make your own Sanrio-esque character out of an adorable slew of body types, animal types, and color schemes. You can change these later. If you want to go from a tiny bird character to a dog that puts the "husky" in husky, you can at any time. I made what appears to be the equivalent of a radioactive fennec fox.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure Character Creator
Hello Kitty Island Adventure /

From there you walk around the plane and introduce yourself to the various characters until Hello Kitty decides to bake cakes for the passengers. If you're thinking "That's silly, you wouldn't want to bake on a flight," don't worry, the game agrees. Things go wrong and cake goes flying leading to Badtz-Maru, saying a line I had to take a screenshot of so you don't think I'm lying:

Hello Kitty Island Adventure Cakes on a Plane
Hello Kitty Island Adventure /

Yup. He's referencing the 2006 movie Snakes on a Plane. Believe it or not, this game seems to be obsessed with 2006 humor as the name Hello Kitty Island Adventure is actually based on a South Park joke from 2006's episode "Make Love Not Warcraft," where the character Butters admits that instead of playing World of Warcraft he's been playing Hello Kitty Island Adventure.

Anyway, as the cake problem escalates it takes the plane down, leading all the passengers to grab some balloons and jump to the island below. Luckily, it's the island they all wanted to end up at in the first place so they have things already partially set up for them. From here, the game becomes about finding where the various characters landed on the island, bringing everyone together, and exploring the mysterious landscape.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure parent guide: Is the game appropriate for kids?

Below we break down the major features of the game and explain whether or not it's appropriate for children to play.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure violence

The closest thing this game ever gets to violence is occasional light slapstick. Most of it is in the intro sequence when everyone gets pelted with cakes. Beyond that, there's no threat of getting hurt or hurting anyone.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure Chococat Neural Networks
Hello Kitty Island Adventure /

Hello Kitty Island Adventure creepiness

The island you find yourself on has a variety of different biomes from desert to forest. One of them is a somewhat spooky-looking swamp. There are tombstones, fog, and slightly eerie music. But at the same time, it's still weirdly cute. The biome has the fear factor of an elementary school Halloween party and it makes sure you know that nothing there is threatening.

In fact, you will often find your characters' friends hanging out there and at one point, resident animal lover Keroppi brings up how interesting the various critters in the area are bringing your attention to the various plants and animals in a way that makes you completely forget that the area is supposed to be spooky.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure diversity

With the exception of rare cameos by humanoid star children Kiki and Lala, all the characters in this game, including your own create a character, are animals.

As far as gender is concerned, male and female characters share similar interests. Pink and white rabbit girl My Melody is the island's resident builder, and she is able to repair houses and build bridges effortlessly. At no point does it feel like gender ever becomes an issue in character development with a strong message saying that anyone can do anything.

Sanrio is actually a very rare Japanese company that breaks its societal norms by positively reacting to controversy and making rapid changes to push diversity and inclusiveness.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure romance

There are very light mentions of relationships, mostly coming from Hello Kitty as she mentioned her boyfriend Dear Daniel. But the fact that Hello Kitty is taking the vacation by herself lets you know out the gate that relationships are nowhere near the primary focus of these characters.

Beyond messages of friendship, most of these characters are fairly lone wolves and tend to do things on their own and occasionally hang out as friends.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure substance abuse

Outside of an incredibly unhealthy diet of pizzas and baked goods, there isn't any sort of substance abuse in this game.

That being said, the game does feature my personal favorite Sanrio character, Retsuko, a red panda. If you're unfamiliar with the character, she was designed for an older crowd. Retsuko works in an office where she seems gentle and sweet but secretly hates her job, and when she leaves work hits up a bar where she drinks heavily and sings heavy metal lyrics about what she's angry about.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure Retsuko
Hello Kitty Island Adventure /

She doesn't mention alcohol but there are a couple of times when she will get a call from her boss who can't seem to remember that she's on vacation and comments about wishing there was a karaoke place on the island. It's sort of an "if you know, you know" situation. But chances are your kid probably doesn't watch her show Aggretsuko.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure swearing

There is no swearing in this game whatsoever. There's not even aggressive language or name-calling.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure microtransactions

I was honestly surprised to find this free Apple Arcade game is completely devoid of microtransactions. There are no arbitrary time limits you can pay to skip. No "premium currency." I can't even think of how microtransactions could be added to this game because there's just so much stuff here already. I don't know what I'd want that isn't here already.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure positive messages

Hello Kitty Island Adventure is filled with positive messages. Many quests involve you helping others in trouble. Working to make the island more comfortable for others, the characters go so far as to figure out what their likes and interests are so they can make everyone happy. The characters learn from others while achieving independence, learning to craft and bake and solve things on their own while not being afraid to ask for help.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure negative messages

Beyond the fact that Hello Kitty CAUSES A PLANE CRASH and everyone moves on from it without placing blame or anyone feeling guilt (I fear Hello Kitty may be a sociopath) there aren't any negative messages on display here.

The characters that ask you for help aren't doing so because they're lazy. In the situations where you get a quest, it's because they're trying to do it themselves and are having difficulty, or it could be that they're unable to do something that you are able to do.

Even at my most creative I couldn't find a way to spin anything that happens on this island as a negative message.

Hello Kitty Island Adventure age barrier

While the game does a decent amount of guiding to prevent players from getting lost, a kid who can't read will absolutely struggle with the game as all of the text comes from written dialogue boxes. And as many of the goals come in the form of "go talk to this person, give them this item, and then build a thing with this many of one ingredient and this many of another," a child unable to read will be absolutely lost.

There are also side puzzles in the game, including temples that require puzzle-solving. Buttons around the island cause you to have to collect a series of items in a certain amount of seconds. Depending on your kids' level of skill these can be pretty frustrating. The temple puzzles are fairly simple, but the timed challenges require you to navigate a particular path with tricky jumps in a few seconds and, honestly, even as a platform gamer, some of these paths took me several tries including one where I couldn't solve it because one of the items was behind a tree.

But if your kid has played through your average Mario game or two, this shouldn't be that much a problem for them.