Time and time again, I’ve had people peek over my shoulder and ask me to describe what I’m playing. All I can think to say is, “Well, you live in a town with talking animals, you grow trees, go fishing, and you have to pay off your debt.” Of course, I don’t get the most appealing looks after a response like that. “No,” I tell them, “it’s much deeper than that.” But really, Animal Crossing is a game you must experience before you can actually understand what it’s about.
You begin the game in the backseat of a car on the way to your new home. After answering some questions clarifying your gender and whatnot, you arrive in town. You meet the mayor, Tortimer, and your local convenient store owner, Tom Nook. When you complete Nook’s tasks, you find out you have an immense debt after moving in. Just like in the last Animal Crossing for GameCube, with each debt you pay off, you get a new expansion for your house. This time around more expansions can be acquired which only means more work. It will all pay off once you’re living like Hugh Hefner in your virtual mansion.
Mo Money, Mo Problems
Paying off your debt is no easier in this game than it was in the last. You will still have to fish until you have an eternal hatred for sea bass. You can also sell furniture that you find in the recycle bin and sell seashells for less than dirt. If you’re more of the green thumb, you can grow fruit trees and sell the fruit to Nook. Plan your landscaping correctly and you can make as much as 100,000 bells every three days. Then there’s always the option of playing the stalk market. Every Sunday, Joan will visit your town and offer to sell you some turnips. Nook will buy these turnips for varying prices everyday – some low, some high. You just have to hope to get lucky on a day when Nook really has a craving for some ‘nips.
You can collect so many things in Animal Crossing, it can almost become a chore. First of all, you must buy furniture for your house if you want to get a good rating from the Happy Room Academy. Then you want to look good for your friends, so you buy hats, shirts, umbrellas, and accessories from the Able Sisters. Of course you want Blathers, the owner of the museum, to be satisfied, so you fill the museum with all the fossils, fish, bugs, and paintings you can find. You can also obtain holiday-specific items, songs from K.K. Slider, and weird musical trinkets called gyroids. There is no end to the things you can find in Wild World.
Touch Me, Baby
Being a Nintendo DS game, of course the touch screen had to be implemented somehow. This time Nintendo went all out. Animal Crossing: Wild World is fully navigational using only a stylus. This makes using the inventory much easier with a simple touch and drag. Also, when designing a pattern you can choose to freehand your art instead of coloring pixel by pixel. I prefer using the traditional button navigation, but for all you touch screen converts, every action is literally at the tip of your fingers.
Perhaps the most significant addition to Animal Crossing is the ability to take your town online and invite visitors inside. This is a big improvement on the train system used to visit someone’s town in the last game. It is quick, efficient, and makes trading items a heck of a lot easier. You can have up to three other people in your town at once assuming you all have each other’s friend code. Regrettably, there’s not much to do online. You can show off your town, trade items, and have fishing tournaments, but there’s so much more potential for this part of the game. Here’s hoping the Revolution version gets it right.
Forgotten NES Games
As many of you probably know, the NES games you could collect in the first Animal Crossing were left out of the DS version. I believe it was for the best. In the last game, many players’ goals were to acquire those NES games. Animal Crossing became more about retro gaming and the focus was taken away from the main game. In the DS version, I feel the players can enjoy the Animal Crossing experience more fully without being clouded with thoughts of playing a retro NES game.
While Animal Crossing may not be your conventional Nintendo game, it offers an experience that will keep you playing for months to come. There are plenty of things to collect, enough debts to pay off, and an online mode to show off your luxurious crib. Unfortunately, if you’ve outplayed the GameCube version, this game won’t have too much to offer you. On the other hand, this game works fabulously as a handheld and won’t leave your cartridge slot for quite a while.