"Youíre in the back seat of a car with an animal at the wheel, steering through unforgiving rain traveling down an unknown road. Youíre moving from your old life - no more large city, no more long job times, no more long distances between destinations, no more humans. Thatís Ďblehí, not appealing, not interesting. No, youíd rather live in the relaxed town ofÖ where? You decide. You name where you want to go. Spiral? Sizzler? Gootown? Doesnít matter. Thatís where youíre going, where this unknown r..."
Youíre in the back seat of a car with an animal at the wheel, steering through unforgiving rain traveling down an unknown road. Youíre moving from your old life - no more large city, no more long job times, no more long distances between destinations, no more humans. Thatís Ďblehí, not appealing, not interesting. No, youíd rather live in the relaxed town ofÖ where? You decide. You name where you want to go. Spiral? Sizzler? Gootown? Doesnít matter. Thatís where youíre going, where this unknown road leads to.
Exit the car, and welcome to Spiral (as I named my town, and as Iíll refer to the town you get to name upon playing the game). Spiral has everything you had back in the city; a supermarket, a museum, a town hall, a clothing shop and even an observatory. However, rather than having to make long trips to get to any of them, everything in Spiral isnít even a minute away in distance, as youíre now living in a small, comfy forest, rich with trees and life. The life to speak of isnít wild life, either; the animals that live in this forest are civilized. They live in houses and speak a language. Theyíre your neighbors for the rest of your days here.
The first thing youíll want to do in Spiral is find a place to stay. If you've played the Gamecube game, you'll be instantly familiar with what to do; work for supermarket owner Tom Nook! And so begins your never-ending adventure in Spiral, a road that will most certainly ultimately lead to boredom.
At least you wonít be bored immediately; thereís plenty to do. Youíre forced at first to do the dirty work for Tom Nook (like deliver items to customers, mail store letters, etc). It sounds dull, but it allows you get a feel for the game. However, if you played the GC counterpart, you'll get a serious case of deja-vu; you're doing the exact same stuff all over again.
Upon completing several tasks Tom Nook gives you, youíll be set free from Nook's hands to explore the town at your disposal. You're not quite done working off your debt for the house, but you don't have to pay it immediately, which allows you free game time. You can catch fish, shop for furnature, pick weeds or simply discuss life with your fellow residents.
The appeal of Animal Crossing is that there are no ultimate goals. Youíll find that after you pay for your house, you can upgrade it, then pay for that and so on. Eventually, when you have a mansion, youíll be able to upgrade no longer. From then on, you can do anything. All the activities I mentioned above. Donating money to the poor. Collecting shirts you can keep in your drawer. Keeping Spiral looking nice by planting trees where there are too many empty spaces.
Thatís also unfortunately Animal Crossingís downfall; at times, there feels like thereís nothing to do. These periods can pop up at any time. Maybe you donít want to pay off your house as you like it the way it is. The villagers donít seem to have anything that needs to be delivered, and youíve already dug up all the fossils for that day. Whatís there to do? Drink coffee at the museums cafe; you get nothing out of it, though. Gaze into the stars at the observatory after youíve already made out some constellations; you get nothing out of it, though.
Some things donít reap benefits and those things are the most common in Animal Crossing. That isnít to say this will come very soon into your purchase of the game, heavens no. Itíll be a while before you find yourself in this slump, but donít forget about it; it will happen. However, there is one very clever thing that Wild World has that the original Animal Crossing doesnít. The ability to travel to othersí towns across the globe via Nintendoís Wi-Fi Internet thing that itís hyping up so much.
Letís talk about traveling to othersí towns. In the original Animal Crossing, in order to do this, you needed your friendís memory card. This had to take place in one Gamecube on one screen. You would go to the train station in Spiral (absent in Wild World, mind you, and replaced with town gates) and talk to the porter. He would check to make sure there was a memory card in slot b of the Gamecube, and then (if there was) allow you to visit your friendís town. Alternatively, you could save Ďtraveling dataí onto a blank memory card and then from your friendís memory card choose to arrive from that memory card. Itís rather complicated and Iím sure you get that idea. But the benefit for doing this was awesome. You could pick the fruit of your friendís town; you hadnít ever seen this kind of fruit before. Take it home and it sells for five times as much as your native fruit at the supermarket. Shop at your friendís supermarket; there are different items for sale here. Make friends with the animals of your friendís town, write letters to them and do jobs for them.
Suddenly, thereís something to do. This was the gateway to ultimate freedom; the thing that kept many coming back to Animal Crossing if they felt like there was no longer anything to do in their own town. This was another town to move around in, to dig things up in, but it lacked one thing. Your friend couldnít be there with you; because this had to take place in one Gamecube on one TV, your friend couldnít have control over his character while youíre in his town.
Your friends can control their characters when you visit their town in Wild World.
Suddenly, the amount of things you can do doubles. With a handy timer that can be bought from the supermarket you can hold tournaments against each other; see who can catch the most fish, or the most bugs, in the allotted time limit. Play Ďtagí with one another on your own rules. Sell each other furniture and other such items. Have some coffee and talk to each other, an ability made easy thanks once again to the touch screen. Ultimately, have fun.
Sadly, the complications of the Gamecube's town visiting still remain. You have a Ďfriend listí in-game, a list which keeps track of people you meet that you can trust to come into your town. To add a friend to your friend list, you have to get their Ďfriend codeí and enter that into your game. Theyíll be added, and all will be well, except for one catch - only those with friend codes are allowed into your town.
What that means is that no one can get into your town in the beginning. Youíll have to make friends over the Internet on your home computer and exchange friend codes there. Is it somewhat ridiculous? Not extremely, though it is a huge pain in the butt if youíre not one to use message boards and the like. But you can always just exchange codes with your friends in person; however you do the exchanging doesnít matter. After all the dirty work is done, given youíre all set up with Nintendoís Wi-Fi connection, you can move about from town to town, having that fun I mentioned previously.
But really, is that all you can do in Animal Crossing? Nope. There's still plenty of things to do; paint pictures, design shirts (using limited paints, mind you), buy music for for your radio. Animal Crossingís wide open with things to do, and thatís the appeal. Itíll take a while to actually do everything, and when you do actually do everything, you can do it again, and then some. You can do it in your friendís towns and play with your friend online. Youíll eventually want to close the gates to Spiral and end your adventure, no doubt; it gets old in the same way that The Sims would if it didnít have any expansions, and that right there is the glaring flaw of Animal Crossing - because itís a Nintendo DS game, you canít expand it. Everything Animal Crossing has to offer is offered from the get go; from then on, thatís what you have to work with, and only that. Due to those circumstances, Animal Crossing will hit your shelf sooner than you might imagine a game like this would, and because of that, itís natural to be weary about picking the title up. After all, you can get similar thrills with actual goals in mind that can last potentially as long and make you feel better. However, nothing compares to the experience Animal Crossing offers because itís just so strange, twisted, and fresh. Itíll be deja-vu if you played the Gamecube version already, meaning Animal Crossing can be recommended to two sets of people: newcomers to the world of Animal Crossing and the die-hards that still play the Gamecube iteration of Animal Crossing today. You know who you are.
Community review by hex (January 23, 2006)
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