Animal Crossing: Wild World Review

Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: December 9, 2005 Also On: None

Nintendo changed the world with franchises like Mario Bros., Zelda, Metroid and Star Fox. They all but created the platform genre, they led the way for 3D graphics on home consoles, they established a thriving fanbase that remains active today. Among these accomplishments are several quirky games that they have published that do not exactly fit into the caliber of revolutionary as the aforementioned. Kirby, Advance Wars, Wario Ware, Pikmin and the game that I am reviewing, Animal Crossing, all fall into a sub-category of less-important franchises that in themselves have not made Nintendo what they are, but combined with the rest of the library make an impression of their own.

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Animal Crossing: Wild World is the Nintendo DS follow-up to the surprisingly successful 2002 GameCube game, Animal Crossing. In many ways, it should not surprise us. Afterall, the formula seems to be based around the main component of the wildly successful game from Electronic Arts, The Sims. You control a character, yes, but you don’t experience the micro-management that is involved in The Sims series. Instead, you directly control your character and are responsible for achieving nothing really. You do not have to satisfy any needs. There is no eating, emptying your bladder, or sleeping. You directly control your character’s actions to do whatever you want. If you want to be a couch potato, fine. It is also fine to do any array of activities from fishing, catching bugs, socializing with your (sometimes) friendly neighbors, shopping, designing clothes/flags/umbrellas/hats, exploring the stars, collecting items for the local museum, planting. There are really an endless number of things for you to do.

That said, there are certain restrictions and limitations. You start out broke, dirt poor in a taxi cab, moving into a new town with strangers that you don’t know. Tom Nook, the shop owner, provides you with a house. In return though, you have to pay off your house with bells and run errands for him for a short time. You can pay off your mortgage by selling items such as fruit (which you collect from trees), fish, shells, bugs, and furniture, among other things like clothes.

The point of shopping in Tom Nook’s shop is simple: fill your house. You can do this by shopping or by obtaining them as rewards/gifts. Aside from that, you shop to pay off bills. If that does not make sense to you, ask yourself how if your goal is to clear a driveway of snow, you do that without a shovel. If you want to collect bugs or fish, you are going to need a net or a fishing rod. Harvesting fruit requires just shaking the tree, so no equipment is necessary and neither is there for collecting sea shells. There are instances where you can find buried items throughout the village, which require a shovel.

Some of the more memorable parts of the game come from events that take place in the world. Nintendo did a fantastic job, as they did in the original, of incorporating major events and creating their own. The famed fishing tournament returns with big fanfare as does the house-rating committee. The museum is larger with more impressive displays. The fishing tanks are larger, plus there are two new additions: the cafe where you can get coffee, and the observatory, where you can stargaze and create your own constellations.

As far as I know, NES games do not return in this game and if they are, they are very well hidden. This is an unfortunate omission, considering some people bought the original based on the NES games alone. Consider the missed opportunity that Nintendo had with this. It would have been awesome to use the online component with Wild World to visit a friend’s village, enter their house and play multi-player NES games with friends. Wi-Fi connected multi-player NES games on the Nintendo DS. The possibility was there and unfortunately was not pursued.

Speaking of Wi-Fi, the limitations of Wild World’s Nintendo Wi-Fi capabilities are disappointing. I imagined a world where players would interact online without the restrictions that Nintendo put as safeguards from playing with people you do not know. That is the point of online play: you want to play with people you don’t know. If you have to play with friends, what’s the point? Why not just play with them in LAN play? I saw a golden opportunity here where a vast world, broken up into different villages. In my imaginary Animal Crossing, they could vote for a mayor, participate in events, etc.

Pretty much you are restricted to playing with people online that you know. Obtain their friend code (and yours), enter it and allow that person into your village by opening the gate. They will need your friend code, they’ll visit your village and you can interact with them. Basically the only purpose of this is to explore a new town for its fruit, fish and shopping items. You can also write letters to your friend, but will have to do so in the post office of the town from which your friend lives. Honestly, this system is more of a hassle than what it is worth.

Even with the disappointments of online play and the lack of NES games, Animal Crossing: Wild World retains enough charm from the original and innovations of its own just enough for me to suggest its purchase. It’s a cute game that families will love. Up to four characters are allowed in your village on one cartridge, enough for a family of four. They even pay off the same mortgage, living in the same house. Wild World will be a forgettable release once the real upgrade in the franchise occurs with Animal Crossing Revolution, but until then, this is a great title to play in small bursts on the go.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 8.9
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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