Is Animal Crossing better on the big screen, or in the palm of your hand?
It is kind of funny. I, like the vast majority of game players, play games to do something they cannot do in real life. Slaying dragons, shooting fireballs, and flying through space is not within the limits of human existence. Performing chores and paying bills in real life are not fun at all. In fact, these tasks are upon the most dreaded in everyday life. So then why is Animal Crossing so much fun when you are simply assuming a digital life, doing things that would be hated within normal human life? No one really knows, and I don?t think anyone really cares.
Animal Crossing Wild World is a sequel to the GC version that was released a couple of years ago. Exclusive to the Nintendo DS, Wild World enhances the GC version by including online play and a few new features.
If you played the GC game, you will know how Wild World will play. Animal Crossing can be defined as a simulation game because the player will live a digital life. Building bigger houses, making friends with neighbors, paying off debts, buying and rearranging furniture, fishing, bug catching, and fossil finding are some of the common tasks the player can perform. The beauty about Animal Crossing is that there is no game over, no way to die, and no way to lose. The only goal of the game is to live. Because the game is nonviolent, parents should be particularity pleased. However, Animal Crossing is a game that anyone can play and become addicted too.
The player starts his life in Wild World by taking a taxi to a town in which you will create. The driver is the captain of the boat that took you to the GBA linked island in the GC version. When you arrive in your new town, you will find a house is waiting for you. Tom Nook, the raccoon local store owner, supplies you with your living pad and all your bartering needs. He was nice enough to build your house, but not without a cost. A massive debt will be charged upon your name, and it is your duty to pay it off. Or is it? Because of the free nature of the game, you don?t have to pay off any debts if you don?t want to. Yeah, you won?t be able to upgrade your house, but these are the options the player has.
So how do you make money to pay off this enormous debt and pass the time in Animal Crossing? There are a ton of ways. Catching bugs, fish, and finding fossils are a great way to make money. The game even runs off the DS?s internal clock. Some bugs and fish might only come out during certain times or day or specific times of the year. Everything can be sold to Tom Nook to earn Bells, the game?s form of currency. Within time, debts will be paid, and additions to your house will be granted. But selling and buying things to Mr. Nook also works in his favor as well. The more you deal with him, the more Points you receive and the bigger his store will grow. The bigger his store is, the more stuff you can buy. And Nook changes his inventory everyday. This gives the player enough incentive to turn the DS?s power on every day.
Having a bigger house means you can hold more stuff. Collecting things is a huge aspect of Animal Crossing. There are well over 1,000 items to collect including furniture, insects, fish, fossils, hats, and shirts. And once you possess an item, it is registered under Tom Nook?s catalog so you can order it anytime you wish. Finding rare items, like NES games, was one of the biggest motivators in the GC version. But since the developers opted to remove these classic games from the DS version, a wave of disappointment will drown each player. Nintendo probably did not want to include NES games into Wild World because of the backward downloadable function of the upcoming Revolution. Also, the classic NES series on GBA continues to sell a steady stream of games. Nintendo did this to avoid money loss.
Also removed from the DS version is e-Reader support and GBA connectivity (going to the island). However, many new functions have been added in their stead with the biggest being online play. Unlike the quirky memory card swapping of the GC game, players can now use Nintendo?s WiFi connection to visit friends? towns. However, the online mode is slightly restricting. First, only ?Friends? you have specifically registered on your game card can enter your town. The goal of adding this function was to avoid random strangers ransacking your town. It would be a major shame if a visitor chopped down all your trees, stole all your fruit, bought everything from the store, dug up all your flowers, and pissed off your neighbors. This added Friend code input function can be a bit of pain, but it really is for the best. Players can also link up LAN style. If players are linked up within LAN, their friend code will automatically be entered into your DS?s Animal Crossing game card, alleviating the need to input it in manually.
Smaller additions have also been added to the game. Touch screen support is one way to control your character. However, moving around your town is awkward with stylus use. Most the time, the player will be running into trees or will scare away fish by dashing. Using the stylus to dig, fish, and catch bugs is also not as accurate as using the D-pad and face buttons. But where the stylus loses emphasis on controlling your character, it makes up for it in the menu screen. Things can quickly and easily be moved around the menu screen using the drag and drop method. Typing letters is also incredibly faster than using the D-pad scrolling technique. Items can even be sold in bulk, making shopping easier. Using the Able Sister?s pattern design maker is also much easier thanks to the touch screen. New to the DS version is a star constellation designer. Using the touch screen, players can design their own star constellations and place them in the sky for all to see. But players will probably be switching control schemes on the fly. However, since the game is not action packed, the stylus can become accustomed to being held in your hand while using the D-pad.
Unlike the screen?s overhead tile structure of the GC version, the DS version uses a constant scrolling screen. The game uses a new viewpoint that resembles that of a log rolling where the distance appears to be bending over the horizon. This allows the player to see more into the distance. Players of the GC will need a few minutes to become comfortable with this new system. Before in the GC version, there was usually one fish and one insect within each tiled section. This made finding each critter a matter of simple deduction. Now, however, finding fish requires a bit more looking since the screen is constantly fixed with the player. Again, GC Animal Crossing players will need some time to become adjusted.
Animal Crossing looked pretty basic on the GC using a mix 3D and 2D sprites, but it totally fit the mood and laid back atmosphere of the game. The game carries the same feel in this DS version, but it takes a heavy hit in the frame rate. The game will never exceed 30 fps, which gives the game a somewhat choppy feel. But after playing Mario Kart DS and experiencing its wonderfully smooth frame rate (even when playing online) I can?t help but wonder why the same fluidity wasn?t possible with this game. Perhaps the log rolling effect takes more processing power than it looks. Besides this hit in the frame rate department, everything looks just like it did on GC.
The game?s presentation is also well done. The menu system has been reworked to best fit the touch screen controls and everything else has been created with simplicity in mind. It is easy to connect to the WiFi connection and use any other menu-based option. However, I would have liked to have seen better use of the items. The biggest inconvenience in this game is having to pull up the menu when you want to swap or remove the tools in your hand. For example, say I am walking along and see a bug on a tree. I then have to pause the game, equip my net, then cancel out of the menu. Then as I catch the bug, I notice a big fish swimming in the river next to me. I have to back out to the menu, remove my net, equip my rod, then continue back to the game. Why couldn?t all the tools be assigned a certain spot in your inventory and be scrolled through with the ?L? and ?R? buttons? The shoulder buttons aren?t used for anything. It is a complete waste and shame that something this simple wasn?t implemented into the game. It could have sped up game play tremendously and increased the portable nature of the flow of the game. Plus with the new tools like the slingshot and the water can, more precious spaces will be taken up in your very limited inventory.
The slingshot is one of those items that must always be in your inventory because you never know what you are going to have to shoot down from the top screen. Unfortunately, you will be lucky to use this item once a week. Flying objects on the top screen are so rare, but so important, when you see them, you will feel horrible if you missed your chance. That is why it must always be in your inventory, but it will barely be used. This is just too inconvenient because it will permanently take up one space in your inventory.
The lack of NES games and a simple tool scrolling system aren?t the only disappointments. Yes, other Animal Crossing players can visit your town, but why weren?t there multiplayer specific activities? Some type of co-op or competitive events should have been created for this game. Including simple multiplayer online events or games would have significantly upped the use for online play. This makes the WiFi mode seem a little short changed.
Players will start with a radio in their house, but will be unable to use it until a song is popped in. Fans will be pleased to know that K.K. Slider returns with his quirky musical talent. Instead of staking his claim in front of the train station on Saturday nights, he now makes takes the stage in coffee bar in the museum. K.K. Slider isn?t the only returning character to Wild World. You will probably see at least one of your favorite neighbors again in Wild World. The dog cops, sly Redd, Kapp?n, Gracie, and more all make a welcomed return in this DS version.
Animal Crossing?s music and audio sound effects fit the game so tightly, you will think each element of the audio is a size 32? on a 42? waist man. Each hour a different tune will play, but it never becomes inconsistent. Each tune gives off that laid back, I?m taking it easy, feel. Having each animal character speak Animalese has also become one of the most memorable aspects of the Animal Crossing world. Even if players find this animal speak annoying, there is an option to change or turn it off. The sound effect and music are simple as can be, but completely work with every moment of the game.
Animal Crossing is a non-game game. On paper, this game sounds like Bore Fest 2005. Only when the game is in player?s hands is it appreciated. Replay value is the most fulfilling element of this game. If you didn?t like the first Animal Crossing on GC, then you won?t like it on the DS. If you exhausted the GC game and are still playing it years after its release, you will know what to expect in this DS version. Wild World is more like Animal Crossing 1.5 as opposed to being a completely redefined game. The only real big addition to this game is touch screen control and online play. The online play is decent, but it could have been so much more. Fans will probably feel a little gypped with the online mode. The truth is, Wild World could have been much more, but I am sure players will still have a lot fun with it. This is a game you can literally play for years as there is always something to do. If you haven?t played Animal Crossing before, Wild World is a great place to start. If you played the hell out of the GC version, this DS game will get you right back into the swing of things.
This game is great because you can?t ignore the fact that you will never have so much fun doing chores, running errand for neighbors, and paying bills.