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Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS) artwork

Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS) review


"Wild World is the portable version of the GameCube virtual life hit, where you’re plonked in a colourful town full of cute little animals to lead a second life. Little has changed from the original. Upon arriving in your newly named town, Tom Nook, the raccoon owner of the local store, has kindly built a house for you to call your own. Sadly, you are now in debt to him and must slowly repay the large sum. But it doesn’t end there. As soon as you’re done paying off the mortgage, Nook happi..."



Wild World is the portable version of the GameCube virtual life hit, where you’re plonked in a colourful town full of cute little animals to lead a second life. Little has changed from the original. Upon arriving in your newly named town, Tom Nook, the raccoon owner of the local store, has kindly built a house for you to call your own. Sadly, you are now in debt to him and must slowly repay the large sum. But it doesn’t end there. As soon as you’re done paying off the mortgage, Nook happily expands your home in return for more bells (the town currency) and you find yourself owing him more than you’d like. Repeat this several times, getting extra rooms and a second floor in the process, until you end up with a mansion. Sounds boring, doesn’t it?

But part of what makes Wild World so appealing is its charm. From the first moment you step into your randomly generated town -- a neat feature that makes each one unique -- you’ll notice that each resident is brimming with personality. Such examples include Blathers, the enthusiastic, yet bug-fearing owl curator of the museum, and Phyllis, the irritable duck working night shifts at the town hall. Your town is also populated with up to eight other residents selected at random from over two hundred. The species of your neighbours vary wildly -- from dogs to bears to even anteaters -- as do their personalities. Some are extremely peppy and make the most out of their day, while others are more level-headed. There are even some that love being rude and grumpy for the sake of it.

None of them are shy to interact with you, either. If you talk to them one too many times, they’ll make it clear that they’re sick of the sight of you. Whenever you smack them with your bug net repeatedly, they won’t be afraid to shout at you. And if you’re close friends with them, expect to lend an ear as they moan about neighbours they don’t get on with. Over the course of your stay, you’ll also find them challenging you to bug-catching duels, inviting themselves to your home, and taking advantage of your good nature by asking you to deliver letters and presents.

Oh my goodness, they’re just like your real friends!

In fact, getting rewarded for running errands and selling rare bugs and fish to Nook are two of the many ways you can pay off your debt. But if you don’t fancy delving into wildlife, how about digging up fossils or shooting down balloons of presents with your slingshot instead? Or maybe you’d like to sell fruit off trees. Of course, your life doesn’t have to revolve around your mortgage. Maybe you get kicks out of cross-breeding flowers, donating to the local museum, or chilling out at the bar with a cup of warm coffee. There is an overwhelming amount that you can spend hours upon hours on before you get bored, and because of its portable nature, there’s no reason why you can’t play in short bursts either.

Another big draw is the game’s use of the DS’ internal clock, and fortunately, it’s not just used for cosmetics’ sake. Sure, it’s nice to see the sky bright when you play during the day and dark at night, but it’s even more pleasing to attend pre-arranged birthday bashes and firework displays or hear the clock chime every hour -- neatly accompanied by a change of music thereafter. But the real beauty of it is that it takes a whole year to experience everything within Wild World. With the environment changing season by season, leaves slowly turn brown during the autumn before snow falls upon the earth at the end of the year. Likewise, you may find yourself catching butterflies and honeybees during the brighter months, yet hearing locusts buzzing and crickets chirping instead as the days get shorter.

Just like in real life, you can also customise the way you and your house look. Over time, by either regularly checking in Nook’s and the local clothes store or by receiving gifts from fellow residents, you’ll build up a sizeable catalogue full of clothes, wallpapers, floors, furniture, and even writing paper. And with an eventually roomy house, you’ll have the opportunity to decorate it as you see fit. Maybe you want a second bedroom, a game room, a glamorous kitchen, or an indoor garden; the choices are endless. The same applies to customising your character’s appearance too. Heck, why not wear a bushy moustache, top hat, and a tuxedo?

Of course, if you’ve played Animal Crossing on the ‘Cube, barely any of this is new. So, in an attempt to make buying this version more justifiable for veterans, Wild World comes with online play through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Unfortunately, it feels like an afterthought, as there’s a distinct lack of activities to do when visiting someone else’s town. Besides trading items and visiting your buddies’ neighbours, there’s barely anything to justify the hassle of micromanaging friend codes. It’s also worth noting that hanging out in your own town becomes repetitive and unexciting after a while. Though the temptations of shopping and chatting with your favourite animals may be enough to keep you visiting from time to time, tasks like catching bugs and fish and earning money grow old. Nevertheless, even if you don’t stick with Wild World long enough to see everything, it’ll easily keep you occupied for at least a month.

The effort that has gone into this virtual life simulation is substantial, even going beyond the game’s everyday tasks. Should you disturb a beehive, a swarm of bees will sting you in the face; if you dare to reset the game without saving, a short-tempered mole will pay a less than friendly visit telling you off; and you may find yourself occasionally reeling in worn tyres and smelly boots whilst fishing. What Wild World does best is immerse you in its vibrant little world. With these small touches, lively personalities, and some great utilisation of the handheld’s internal clock, at times it really does feel like you’re living another life -- all in your hands.

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by hobunn (September 16, 2006)

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