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Hello Kitty Online

Jukebox Heroes: Whimsy and oddity

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer Online, Guild Wars 2, Free Realms, Champions Online, Hello Kitty Online, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes

Jukebox Heroes Whimsy and oddity
I have two big announcements today. The first is that Jukebox Heroes is switching from a bi-weekly to a weekly schedule, which should delight my 30 readers and cause an epidemic of indifference elsewhere. The second is that we're going to take a week off examining specific soundtracks to have a little fun with how silly MMO studios can get.

If you haven't figured it out already, this column is kind of a not-so-subtle outlet for sharing my MMO music collection with you. I don't have any firm method of collection other than I just acquire tracks that my ear tells me I'd like to hear again. So along the way, I've acquired a few oddball pieces that you probably won't find on any OST but that are notable enough to share.

In some cases, these tracks represent studios' attempts (successful or otherwise) to let down their hair and be humorous. In others, these songs are parodies or one-time special events. So let's take a sidebar to look at the whimsical and odd songs of gaming.

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Hello Kitty Online donates $6,000 to Japanese earthquake relief fund

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Hello Kitty Online, Kids, Family

It's been inspiring to see how many people have stepped up following the tragic Japanese earthquake and tsunami a month ago, including gamers and studios. Sanrio Digital rallied Hello Kitty Online players to the cause with its aptly named Japan Earthquake Aid project.

During a recent in-game event, players were encouraged to gather together special items and hand them in to a GM. Depending on the amount of items accrued over the event, Sanrio Digital promised to donate a variable amount of money to Project KIBOW, which helps fund Japan's Civic Force, an organization that hands out supplies and food to those still struggling with this crisis.

Sanrio announced today that due to the players' efforts, the company is handing in a check for $6,041 on behalf of Hello Kitty Online. Helpful players who passed a certain item donation threshold received a spiffy in-game Tokyo outfit as a thank-you from the company.

Hello Kitty Online meets Manhattan

Fantasy, Patches, Free-to-Play, Hello Kitty Online, Family

New York City is, like, totally bummed out. Intrepid explorers in Hello Kitty Online recently found the city to be deserted due to an unknown cause -- Cloverfield monster? Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man? Sex and the City 3 filming downtown? Nobody knows! With its upcoming update, "Mysteries of New York," HKO players will dig deeper into this investigation while cheering up the emerging inhabitants.

Yup, that's right: Cheering them up. After all, this is Hello Kitty Online, a game that practically exudes pastel cheer from every pore. With the free January 24th update, players will engage in the return of the "Cheer System" which uses a variety of sparklers to lift the spirit of grouchy residents. Because nothing empowers one's attitude like a face-full of sizzling fireworks!

Mysteries of New York will contain a hefty assortment of other goodies as well, including costume sets, a sizable invasion of penguins, new pets and bosses, and a capsule machine that gives you the chance to win groovy prizes. You can check out all of the details of this update at Hello Kitty Online.

Celebrate Hello Kitty's birthday in Hello Kitty Online

Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, Hello Kitty Online, Family

Hello Kitty is 36 years old, which should be the sort of thing that makes everyone blink once or twice in surprise. With that sort of pedigree, you'd be surprised not to see a celebration going on -- especially in Hello Kitty Online. Sure enough, there's a huge birthday bash going on right now for players of the game, and participation in the event will have some positive effects in the real world. Sanrio is giving money to charity, based in part upon how many people take part in the birthday festivities.

Players taking part will be sent around the world with sparklers to help cheer up monsters, so that everyone can enjoy the birthday celebration. There's also a small line for upgrading and improving sparklers for maximum effectiveness, with upgrades available in the item shop as a shortcut for participants. A full event guide has been posted, and it promises a special in-game event on November 15th -- which should be an excellent motivator for Hello Kitty Online players to log in and ring in another cat-filled year.

MMO Family: A parent's look at Hello Kitty Online

Free-to-Play, Hello Kitty Online, Kids, MMO Family, Family

MMO Family is your resource for leveling a gaming-specced family, from tips on balancing gaming with family life to finding age-appropriate online games for everyone in the family.

Hello Kitty Online is the first of our Parents Guide selections that's aimed squarely at teens and young adults rather than the kiddie set. Say what? We were surprised, too -- but given the mind-bogglingly persistent popularity of Hello Kitty among grownups with more discerning taste (and expansive wallets), it stands to reason that developer Sanrio would want HKO to reach as broad an audience as possible.

What HKO brings to the keyboard, then, is less a kiddie game than a crafting-oriented, sunshiny, Hello-Kitty-themed version of an MMO. Sure, it's 2-D. Sure, it's free-to-play. But despite the precious proliferation of pink, you'll find gameplay that's more in line with traditional, fully developed MMOs -- a purrfectly friendly MMO choice for your teen daughter.

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HK-Day arrives: Hello Kitty Online launches in NA and Europe

Launches, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Hello Kitty Online, Family

You've felt it -- the tingle of anticipation, the twitch of desire, the color of pink. And now, after years of waiting, it's finally here: Hello Kitty Online has officially launched across North American and Europe. While the game's been widely available for some time now, Sanrio Digital considers today to be the first of many glorious days of cats and their peppy greetings. It's a double celebration of sorts, considering that this is Sanrio's 50th anniversary.

While you and your family can download Hello Kitty Online for free, Sanrio hopes that you'll go the extra distance and head out to a retailer to pick up the premium edition of this kid-friendly MMO. Hello Kitty Online Premium Edition includes a grab-bag of treats, such as $15 in Sanrio points for item shop purchases, an exclusive pet, the game manual, and postcards.

The MMO is tied in with SanrioTown, the company's official Hello Kitty social network, which provides fans with tools to share their love of this world. Obviously, Sanrio is hoping that the worldwide Hello Kitty phenomenon will propel this F2P title to success. You can check out HKO for yourself at the official site.

Rise and Shiny recap: Hello Kitty Online

Events (In-Game), Reviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Casual, Hello Kitty Online, Kids, Family, Rise and Shiny

Each week Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. Some of the games will be far out of your gaming comfort zone, and some will pleasantly surprise you. We will meet each Tuesday and Friday night at 8 PM Central time, followed by this column the Saturday after. I welcome any suggestions for games, either in the comments or at beau at massively dot com.

This week I asked my readers to man (or woman) up and download Hello Kitty Online by Sanrio Digital. I'm a firm believer in the old saying "Looks can be deceiving" and have tried to keep that in mind as I look for games. After all, what is the difference between fluffy pink and white bunnies and giant robots that throw hissy fits? In fact, if I were to ask my readers what makes up the difference between a game like Hello Kitty Online and a game like Lord of the Rings Online, they might only shrug and say "C'mon, Beau, you can see the difference."

Remember, though, that we can still pull emotions out of cartoon characters just like we can out of more realistic ones, and it has been shown that many moviegoers actually feel more connected to stylized characters over super-realistic representations. I wonder if Hello Kitty Online can inspire the same strong emotions that a hardcore raider feels?

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Hello Kitty Online Food for Friends 2 event a success

Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, Hello Kitty Online

With the recent devastation in Haiti, we've seen a host of different gaming initiatives to help out. The folks at Sanrio Digital in connection with Aeria Games ran their own event, called Food for Friends 2. The idea was that players could donate any type of in-game items to Aeria, and Aeria would donate to the Haiti relief efforts on behalf of the Hello Kitty Online community.

Well, the results are in, and the Hello Kitty Online players on Aeria servers donated 534,358 items to the cause. While Aeria has not currently released their total donations as yet, the numbers are in from the Sanrio Digital side of things. Apparently the Sanrio Digital crowd managed to get 1,248,257 donated crafted items, and in turn Sanrio donated US $18,038.30 to Doctors Without Borders for the Haiti relief efforts. Now that's a friendship gift we can get behind.

Hello Kitty Online's Food for Friends 2 event provides Haiti disaster relief

Betas, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, New Titles, Hello Kitty Online, Kids

One of the things that's different about Hello Kitty Online, beyond the pink hearts and stars motif, is that the game ties in with some great charitable causes. Now Sanrio Digital has announced the "Food for Friends 2" guild competition, an event that lets guilds compete for Loyalty Point prizes for use in the Hello Kitty Online item mall while helping people in the real world. Players from select regions (North America, Europe, Singapore, Malaysia) who participate in Food for Friends 2 will generate real money donations (from event sponsors) through their gameplay that will help disaster relief efforts in Haiti.

Food for Friends 2 runs from January 21-30 and getting involved is very simple. Players can log in and head on over to Hello Kitty Online's version of London to speak with an NPC named Cinnamaroll. He's collecting crafted consumable items for the needy. The more people from your guild who donate these items, the higher your guild's point standings increase.

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Hello Kitty Online releases new trailer and theme song

Trailers, Video, Free-to-Play, Hello Kitty Online, Kids

Hello Kitty Online, the excruciatingly cute free-to-play MMO from Aeria Games, has a catchy new theme song and trailer video sure to get stuck in the heads of little girls worldwide (and probably their mothers, who were around when Hello Kitty was cool the first time.)

"The World Is Saying Hello" trailer gives a tour of the game, visiting some of the different areas such as the Sunbright Express train station.

So what about that earworm of a song? Well, it's Hello Kitty Online's new theme song, and what you hear in the trailer is only part of it. To get the full version, you have to go play the game. The full song can be heard at one of the places featured in the trailer, so head over to Sanriotown and good luck tracking the full song down! For now, enjoy the video trailer after the jump.

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Hello Kitty Online joins the Toys for Tots charity drive

Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Hello Kitty Online

Hello Kitty and Toys for Tots, two names that are pretty recognizable at first glance. Well, the two are teaming up for the holiday season, as Aeria Games is using Hello Kitty Online as a platform to drive charitable contributions in a pretty unique way.

Instead of offering a buyable pet and giving the proceeds to Toys for Tots, HKO players will get to search the grand virtual lands of Sanrio for Short Sticks, Webley Webs, Shells, and Bramble's Comfort. Each set of items collected will go to creating a special in-game Crab Plush Toy for you and will add one more donation to Aeria's real life toy drive. That's right: An in-game quest with a real life reward of helping get toys to children for the holidays. That's one quest that you can't drop from your log.

GMs will be picking up item sets on December 14th, 15th, and 16th. For the full information on what needs to be collected to make a set, check out the event page on HKO's main website. Don't miss out on this great chance to help children in need!

Hello Kitty officially middle-aged, celebrates in Hello Kitty Online

Betas, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Hello Kitty Online, Kids

She may have thrown out her back last week raking up hearts and stars in her back yard, but that's not going to stop Hello Kitty from celebrating her 35th birthday in Hello Kitty Online. Masters of all things cute and cuddly Sanrio Digital announced details of the virtual birthday party commemorating Hello Kitty's middle age milestone. Although Hello Kitty was born on the first of November, the festivities are already underway in Hello Kitty Online and will continue through the cultural icon's actual birthday.

HKO players can earn tokens by completing birthday quests and playing mini-games. Those tokens can be exchanged for limited edition birthday items in-game. Any players who unlock at least four of the limited edition items gain access to a November 1st birthday bash held in (HKO virtual) London. Those festivities aren't just for the players who rack up the most virtual swag, as birthday celebrations will also be held in game locales like Florapolis and Paris.

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A look into the world of Hello Kitty Online

At a glance, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, Hello Kitty Online

The citizens of Sanriotown are missing, and it's up to you to save the day! Ok, that's the most cheeriness you're getting out of this article from us. We're not sugar-coating the rest of this, because the game has enough sugar in and of itself. We don't need to sprinkle any more atop the candy coated world of Hello Kitty Online.

Our good friend Tipa over at West Karana has taken the brave plunge into HKO, and she's resurfaced with a long post of first impressions from the game. While she goes in-depth with the combat, crafting, harvesting, and minigame aspects of HKO, she doesn't have much praise to heap on the game. Most of her complaints with the white cat stem from a severe lack of documentation that gives the player direction. For the most part, players of HKO are dropped into the world with no clear objective of what to do when they get there -- not that good for a game that's directed at children.

While Tipa's first impressions are lengthy, be sure to check out our first impressions of Hello Kitty Online, coming soon to the blog near you!

Hello Kitty Online heading into closed beta

Betas, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Hello Kitty Online, Kids

Are you ready to grab your pink scepter and do battle with marshmallowy beasts in the Flower Kingdom? If you're one of the people who have been waiting for Hello Kitty Online to hit the western market, then you'll be glad of this news. We heard a few days ago that Aeria Games is finally taking Hello Kitty Online into closed beta, ending the months of wondering after their initial announcement and then nothing.

For those of you who haven't had the chance to try out HKO in other localizations, this incredibly pink MMO offers mini-games, an open-ended world with guilds, player housing, player gardens and even typical MMO quests. Essentially, imagine if Sanrio were given free reign to decorate the world; there's kawaii vivid colors everywhere and very cheery adventures to be had. So, if you're a casual Sanrio fan who wants to have some cave-the-back-of-your-head-in sweet F2P MMO fun, head over to the (admittedly very basic) Hello Kitty Online Aeria site and get signed up for the closed beta!

Hello Kitty Online's world domination plan has begun

MMO Industry, New Titles, Casual, Hello Kitty Online, Kids

While Massively focuses on a lot of the bigger games on the market, the World of Warcrafts and Warhammer Onlines out there that define fantasy MMOs for many gamers, we still like to keep our eyes on the lesser-discussed MMO titles. Which leads me to my point -- we're on to you Hello Kitty. We've said this before and we'll probably say it again, Hello Kitty has her cute little eyes set on nothing less than absolute global domination through Hello Kitty Online.

It began with her decking out Beijing with even more stars than the real Beijing, a feat most thought impossible, much less swathing the city in pink and purple hues. We've since learned that she wants Brazil, as well as Singapore and Malaysia, in her little paws. Apparently the next phase of her plan involves new avatar customization options with cute little... outfit... thingies... in the item mall. It's diabolical! Just check out the screengrabs below, if you dare.

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