Animal Crossing: Wild World
November 23, 2005 (JP)
December 5, 2005 (NA)
December 8, 2005 (AU)
March 31, 2006 (EU)
Animal Crossing was one of the most popular games for the Gamecube, with the chief complaint being that you had to be sitting in front of the TV in order to check in on your town, instead of just popping in on a handheld system while on the bus/subway/etc. So a portable Animal Crossing title seems like the answer to the prayers of AC lovers everywhere. Unfortunately, the game itself offers less content than the Gamecube version, and little incentive to continually check in everyday. The game ultimately gets boring quickly.
If you haven’t tried Animal Crossing before, basically it comes down to this: you are the sole human just moving into a town full of animals. Immediately after arriving in town and creating your character and town (through a set of questions), you get put into indentured servitude by the raccoon that you’ll learn to hate early in the game, Tom Nook. You owe him for constructing your house, and you have to be his little errand-boy, doing mundane tasks around town. After this, he’ll continually upgrade your house, meaning you owe him more bells (the in-game currency) each time. You can take your time paying it off though.
What’s there to do in town? Socialize with the animals, furnish your house, dig up the three fossils found around town each day, pull weeds, catch fish, collect insects, plant flowers, shop at Tom Nook’s, make your own constellations in the night sky, donate to a developing neighboring town called Boondox, check your mail, buy clothes at The Able Sisters, and meet the various special characters that visit town on certain days. You can also build up your relationships with the neighbors by going out and speaking with them, letting them come over to your house and visit, and writing them letters. Sounds like a lot, and it is – for a while. But repeating the same thing over and over again every day eventually gets so tedious and repetitive that you may eventually start neglecting your town for days at a time. This produces some really bad results – your neighbors might move out, the town becomes overgrown with weeds, and the neighbors that are left get really upset with you.
The constant need to literally “baby” your town and your neighbors poses a problem as well. If you get busy with school, work, or other real life issues and have to put the game on the back-burner for a while, then you’re going to have a mess when you return. Three weeds grow in your town every day, so if you aren’t able to play for 30 days, you’ll have to walk around town and pluck 90 weeds one by one, all the time being hounded by your neighbors because they haven’t seen you in a month. What fun.
Even though the concept is simple and gets repetitive after time, it can’t be denied that the game has a unique charm and is really addictive for a while after you begin playing it. Different characters visit your town each day, each with their own unique purpose and personality. Holidays such as Yay Day and the Fishing Tournament serve to add some variety to the game. Unfortunately, real-world holidays such as Halloween and Christmas are not included in Wild World, much to the dismay of Animal Crossing (GCN) fans. Still, each holiday brings something new to the table, and together they bring welcome relief to the daily routine.
Perhaps the reason that the game becomes stale is the fact that you’re playing with no goal or anything to aim for. The Gamecube version allowed you to eventually unlock several classic NES games that you can actually play (not just in-game items – the actual games), while the DS version offers none of this. Therefore, you’re really only playing to make your house bigger, get new in-game items, and complete all the collections in the museum. It would be nice to have a reward that the player could actually enjoy rather than just look at on the screen.
The graphics are pretty much the same as the Gamecube version – very simple, basic 3D. Instead of the squares of land present in the Cube version, Wild World features a curved continuous landscape, which gives the impression of a seamless town. Sound is basic as well, with each animal having their own representation of the town theme. The music fits the situation perfectly – wandering around town produces a relaxing theme, but going into Tom Nook’s store will change the music to a more upbeat tune. Also, each animal has their own preference of music that will be playing on their radio. You can unlock more tunes for your own radio by visiting K.K. Slider in the bistro on Saturday nights.
The game offers the choice of stylus or d-pad control. The stylus control is perfect for the menus, but is often a hindrance in movement and overworld actions. You’ll often find yourself trying to fill a hole only to dig another one, or pick up a piece of fruit only to talk to a neighboring animal. For overworld actions such as these, button controls are the better option. Thankfully you can switch between the two at will, so you can use the buttons for movement and actions, and the stylus for menus, if you wish.
Wild World offers multiplayer through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Utilizing friend codes, you can visit any of your friends’ towns and visit them and their animals. Buying from their town’s Nookway will allow them to unlock the final iteration of Nook’s store (Nookington’s). You can also get fruit from their town to plant in yours. You can only visit your friends’ towns, which works for the best anyway as random visits have the potential to result in vandalism and destruction of your town. Sometimes Nintendo also gives away gifts through the WFC service, which are usually items for your house and town, or bells (the game’s currency).
While there is a lot to do in Animal Crossing: Wild World, there is little incentive to keep playing after the game wears out its welcome. The online features are a welcome addition, as well as the portability, but the game itself still gets tedious after a while. Still, it can be addicting, and there’s enough to keep you coming to check back daily for a while. Eventually though, doing the same thing over and over again every day gets old, even with the online features and holidays to mix things up.
Addictive at first.
Great for pick up and play.
Wi-Fi lets you visit other towns.
Gets repetitive quickly.
Mundane tasks over and over.
Being enslaved to Tom Nook.