Animal Crossing’s a game that just makes no sense. No sense that is, in that when you play it, you can’t figure out why you’re playing it, yet at the same time, you just can’t stop. It’s almost like a “Seinfeld” episode, as it’s all about nothing, but it’s a very compelling nothing. A nothing so well done, you can’t help but keep picking it up for “just a few more minutes” and end up dropping two or three hours into it. So what is this game all about?
In sum, Animal Crossing: Wild World for the DS is about creating a virtual “you” and working to create the coolest little town and house around. You do this by, and I’m not kidding here, planting flowers, buying furniture, decorating your house and planting trees. To get the money to do all this, you’ll work for a living in your virtual town, first starting off as an errand-boy (or -girl, as you can choose your avatar’s sex) and then working to create your own sideline businesses. A lot of your early hours will be spent picking fruit, collecting seashells and fishing – all so you can sell the fruit, shells and fish to make more cash. Take the cash, and buy furniture, flowers and other goods to help you in your quest for the ultimate town.
Building the ultimate town is more than just decking out your house, you have to help others along the way. This is accomplished by chatting with current residents of your town, and helping them find the things they need. Sometimes, they’ll offer up some goodies to help you out, other times, the incredible ingrates will just take your help and give nothing in return. But just like the real world, that’s a chance you take for being a good guy. Along with helping others, you’ll also have a museum that needs your help. So, as you roam about your little town, you can dig up (assuming you bought the shovel!) fossils which the museum curator will beg you to give him to build up the museum’s collection. If that’s not enough digital inanity (but compelling inanity, if that’s possible) for you, there’s always the game’s clothing/textile design options. Yes, you can go to the fashion shop and draw your own clothing, wallpaper, flooring and textile designs. After you create a design (and pay for the fabric) you can apply it to your character and his belongings, customizing the look of you and your home to your ultimate liking. Oh, and if you do a good enough job on your home, you’ll earn points from the local design judges. The insanity never ends!!!
So let’s say you finally get your house just as you like it, and your town is rife with fruit trees and flowers, what else is there to do? Go online of course! Yes, the insanity continues online, as you can, via Nintendo’s WiFi online service, visit friends’ towns, or have them visit yours. There’s a distinct advantage to going online with Animal Crossing, as it lets you gather items unique to other towns, meet new residents (who will help you out) and pick new fruit – which is worth more back in your town. The fruit-economy is hilariously fun, as friends will continually visit one another’s towns, pillaging all the fruit they can get then taking it home to sell at a high profit. But the more clever players will find that by buying a simple shovel, they can actually plant that fruit back in their hometown, creating new fruit trees of this foreign fruit. But that won’t be enough to keep you from visiting your friends’ homes, as there’s so much fun in comparing homes, towns and unique elements, you can’t help but beg your friends to open their gates throughout the day.
This game just drips character, especially when it comes to the visuals. Cute 3D characters populate the world, and while they may seem simplistic, the facial expressions and body language seem to convey a lot of information. Chatting is done through a text interface, though the non-human characters will also make a sort of annoying squeaky sound as they talk, which gets overbearing after a few dozen times.
Animal Crossing for the Nintendo DS is one of those games you can lose dozens of hours to, assuming you like collecting games. Actually, even if you think you’re not a “gotta catch ’em all” fan, you might be surprised at how much fun you’ll have with this game. The replay value is incredibly high, as there always seems to be some secret you hadn’t known about before, and just have to uncover immediately. Nothing feels forced, you’ll actually enjoy trying to create a golden shovel or other magical tool. If you have access to a WiFi (wireless) network, you’ll get even more value for your money, as you can visit your friends’ towns again and again, refreshing the game experience.
On the surface, Animal Crossing Wild World for the DS is one of those games that seems stupid, I mean, who wants to spend all day decorating a house or picking fruit? Within just an hour of play, however, you’ll find yourself completely addicted as you visit other towns , beautify your home and send letters (did I mention that bit of silly fun?) to AI characters and real people. It’s just one of those games that drips charm, and can be enjoyed by just about anyone.
Note: If you’re looking for some screenshots, please visit the official Animal Crossing Wild World Web site.
- Gameplay: 9
- Simple, yet incredibly compelling gameplay that never feels forced
- Graphics: 8
- Not top-of-the-line, but cutesy and reflective of each player’s personal style
- Sound: 7
- Cutesy music, but annoying “voicework”
- Replay: 9.5
- I dare you to find a reason not to keep playing this
- Overall: 9
- Inexplicably fun, pure and simple