By Katie Wilson
In my continuing series concerning video games my fiancé has purchased to lure me away from the World of Warcraft expansion, we come to Animal Crossing: Wild World. This game is for the Nintendo DS and I had heard nothing but good things about it. I had also heard that it could turn into a terrible obsession that would suck the very life from me (not unlike WoW). Primarily for this reason, my beloved Patrick purchased the game and presented his DS to me with a flourish. I was, of course, wary; I knew I could easily be sucked into the game, but the temptation was too much and I gave in.
This game is similar to the Harvest Moon series. Your goal is to make friends and acquire money. Much like real life, with he added attraction of talking animals and fruit worth one hundred dollars a pop. You move to a new town (the only human resident, I might add) and buy a house from a raccoon. You must pay off the mortgage, although no payment schedule is set. You simply pay what you can at the post office/town hall/bank. When you pay off one mortgage you can then get a bigger house and pay off an even bigger mortgage. The raccoon you buy the house from also owns the local general store where you can pick up furniture, gardening equipment, and stationary. So he basically owns you and the whole town. You even start the game in his employ, toiling for minimum wage as a sort of tutorial for navigating the town.
You can do a variety of things to earn money to pay off the mortgage and fill your home full of matching furniture. You can gather fruit and seashells lying around. You can dig up precious fossils and donate them to the local museum or sell them for a huge profit. I always donate to the museum if for no other reason than I can hear Harrison Ford’s voice in my head saying, “That belongs in a museum!” You can catch insects or fish. You can even play the “stalk” market and buy and sell turnip futures. Like most sandbox games, the possibilities are endless.
There is also a social aspect to the game. You have many neighbors in a variety of different species and personalities. You can visit their homes, write letters to them, or chat with them as they wander around town. For no reason at all, they will sometimes give you presents, usually furniture to decorate your house with. So far my home is only furnished with the castoffs of my neighbors. Ever practical, I will properly furnish my house only once I have it paid off.
There are a variety of activities you can join. I have been invited to several fishing contests, although my inability to fish prevents me from joining in the fun (don’t ask – it’s just another sad tale of my general incompetence with video games). There are also clubs like the Happy Room Academy that judges the beauty of my décor and gives suggestions as to how I can improve it.
As far as I can tell the primary goal of the game is to have a large house full of matching furniture. I’m not sure how people can get sucked into the game. I generally play for about ten or twenty minutes a day. Granted I could play everyday, but certainly not for hours on end. This may be because I have yet to utilize one of the more exciting features of the game: traveling to the towns of my friends or having them come visit me. It’s not that I have no friends who also own the game. I’m just too lazy to organize a meeting with them.
I’m not sure why, but I find myself able to resist this game for extended periods of time. Perhaps it’s due to my practical streak which prevents me from buying fun stuff while a massive mortgage is hanging over my head. Or maybe it’s because of my antisocial tendencies. I would venture that it was because I was too old for the game, but most of the people I know who play it are at least twenty years old. In all likelihood, it’s that I consider playing the game something like a chore. My sense of responsibility forces me to earn money everyday to pay off my mortgage. Whatever the reason, the game has no hold on me. But this isn’t to say this is a bad game. I do enjoy spending a few minutes each day gathering seashells and digging up fossils. I don’t consider the game worth its price tag of thirty five dollars, but I know at least twenty people who do. So whether you scoop it up now or wait for the price to come down, Animal Crossing: Wild World is a game worth owning.
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