Game: Cuddly Forest Friends
Genre: Simulation, Party
System: Nintendo Switch
Developers | Publishers: Nippon Columbia | Aksys Games
Age Rating: US E | EU 3+
Price: US $49.99 | UK £35.99 | EU € 39,99
Release Date: February 2nd, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to MMPR.
Love cute and cuddly? Then enter this heart-warming simulation game in which you have to care for nine little furry friends in the forest. Their happy feeling will make the Tree of Happiness grow. Let’s see what you can expect!
The Seed for the Tree of Happiness
The background story to Cuddly Forest Friends is that while the group of friends that you might know as Gesshizu, were relaxing in their forest, a letter fell from the sky. It contained a seed for the Tree of Happiness and tasked the critters with helping it grow. Of course, Rabbit, Squirrel, Mouse, Degu, Hamster, Porcupine, Flying Squirrel, Capybara, and Beaver obliged: they planted the seed. After that, Happy Feelings are needed for it to grow to its fullest potential.
As caretaker of the forest friends, it’s up to you to generate these Happy Feelings by feeding the animals, interacting and fulfilling requests with them. In a daily loop you check to see what each animal’s needs are. You can feed them, trying to find what their favourite food is so that it gives more Happy Feelings. Interact with them by petting them, and pay attention to which areas they like being petted more than others. I never knew some critters like being scratched behind the ears and others not as much! You can dress them up and “talk” with them, trying to find what their favourite food or accessory is. Ensure their hunger and happiness bar aren’t depleted because being hungry is bad for happy feelings!
Foraging, Crafting and Mini Games
It’s not all total leisure though in Cuddly Forest Friends. As the day starts, you send the forest friends out to areas to find materials. The higher the level of the Tree of Happiness, the more areas you unlock. And then, when they come back, they can craft items for you. Your role is to assign critters to certain areas and crafting jobs, and cheering them on through a little mini-game.
You can dress the Gesshizu up with the accessories you make and put the bigger decorations out in the forest where they live. Think of things like a big hamster wheel, a picnic blanket or cherry trees in the forest instead of fruit trees.
Another way to generate happy feelings is by doing mini-games. As the game progresses, more mini-games unlock, like fishing, trying to eat as many apples as you can, colouring clouds in your assigned colour while the other animals try to paint them over and many more.
All of this not only generates Happy Feelings but also levels up the animals. And when they do, you’ll learn more from them, like their favourite food, which kind of mini-games they are good at and in what crafting and foraging job they excel.
Super Cuteness Aimed at Children
The controls on the Switch work well, and the music background sounds in Cuddly Forest Friends are happy and appropriate. After getting used to the game loop, it’s easy for youngsters to find the right buttons, even if reading is challenging. All actions have little drawings showing what choices are made.
Playing the game as an adult, I did feel there really wasn’t much needed to do on my part. I couldn’t find how to craft when I wanted to, and sending the animals out didn’t happen because I felt I needed more materials but because that’s part of the daily game loop. For me, actions quickly became repetitive; I can see kids loving it though. Aside from that, it’s clearly is a game aimed at the Japanese gaming market, as is obvious in some of the translations.
You can, as described, care for your nine friends, but you can also start up the game in mini-game mode. Doing that lets you choose up to four people to play together on one system.
Cuddly Forest Friends, with its interaction with Gesshizu is great for younger children. The little drawings next to the choices you need to make will help with playing it even if reading is challenging. For adults, I feel there’s too little actual influence you have on the gameplay, and the daily game loop quickly became repetitive.
The developers did a good job of giving the critters personalities; I did have my favourites, like the Capybara and the Porcupine. I couldn’t help but smile at them, sulking when they lost a mini-game. They remind me of the Tamagotchi I had many years ago, though the Gesshizu are much more accommodating in that they don’t actually die!
Final Verdict: I Like it