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Not-So-Daily Link of the Day: The Asian multimedia company Sanrio Digital and the California-based Aeria Games company have announced at this week's Game Developer Conference that they will launch the Hello Kitty Online massively multi-player online role-playing game (MMORPG) in North America. Hello Kitty Online is in beta testing now, but will launch in various regions this year as a free-to-play game with "optional premium upgrades." Hello Kitty Online runs off the www.hellokittyonline.com website, while Sanrio Digital will operate the integrated SanrioTown portal and social networking site.
Players can explore Flower Kingdom, Tokyo, Paris, Moscow, and other locales populated by non-player Sanrio characters such as Hello Kitty herself, Badtz-Maru, Cinnamoroll, My Melody, Kerropi, Pochacco, Purin, Muffin, and Scone. While the game emphasizes an "engaging social aspect centered on the magical and cute online world of Hello Kitty," it includes standard MMORPG features such as customizable avatars, guilds, skill systems, and player economy.
Hello Kitty has been animated several times over the years, and veteran Japanese voice actress Megumi Hayashibara (Ranma ½'s female Ranma, Evangelion's Rei) has played her in almost all of them. ADV Films released English-dubbed versions of some of the videos. Sanrio is also attempting to expand beyond its traditional female audience by selling Hello Kitty apparel to men in Japan.