Monday, January 16, 2006

Animal Crossing: Wild World- The Complete Review

Back in 2002, one of the most addicting, yet pointless game of all time was released for the Nintendo Gamecube. Animal Crossing had players going around, performing random tasks to please hippo neighbors and pay off raccoons. It’s simplistic yet addictive gameplay made it one of those ‘must-own’ titles for the Gamecube. Now, 3 years later, with the release of the DS, Animal Crossing is back in Animal Crossing: Wild World with the same gameplay that made it fun and addictive on the Gamecube, as well as a few new additions.

First off, Animal Crossing was known for its lack-luster graphics back in the day. What was intended to be an N64 game was bumped up to the Gamecube without many graphical upgrades. Of course, the DS isn’t as powerful as the Gamecube, therefore Wild World has very good graphics. While they haven’t changed much since 2002, the colors aren’t quite as bright and some of the models have been scaled down.

The character models alone are very well done. Each character is unique and looks the part. Every character is an animal, but Nintendo gave each character some creativity, leaving each character recognizable, yet gleaming with AC’s signature humor. Animal Crossing was known for having a very eccentric sense of humor, especially when catching fish and bugs. This sense of humor has not been lost and new lame puns and one-liners can be found all over the place in Wild World. Even with Nintendo WFC, bulletins can be put up that are incredibly random. For example, one bulletin goes this way:

-Talking to Myself-
It’s odd how even the chattiest people get quiet in elevators! Except my sister…

Ha...Ha...Heh...

Lots of “Oh no you Squid’nt” type messages are to be found everywhere, even slipped into conversation. It’s nice to know that since players will be spending so much time with this game, that it can at least make them shake their heads at the lame puns and odd stories.

Like the original for the Gamecube, Wild World is addictive. There’s always something to do, whether one plays it in short bursts or decides to tackle a big project. There are events and activities to do almost every day, which is one of the big drawing points of the game. Whether it be a fishing tournament or just a flea market, there are tons of pre-set things tasks to do in Wild World, as well as many tasks players can make themselves. As with Animal Crossing for the Gamecube, players have to pay off debt to Tom Nook the owner of the local store. This requires players to sell fruit, furniture, shells and other doo-dads and nick-knacks that they come along. Depending on whether or not players have non-native fruit, the whole process can go fast or slow.

Sadly, the task of doing simple chores for one’s neighbor has been taken out of Wild World. Now, instead of delivering the furniture to neighbor a from neighbor g, neighbor a now has hobbies. Each animal has a different hobby, whether it be fishing, catching bugs or digging up dinosaur bones, neighbors will engage not in random tasks, but rather random competition. Whoever can catch the cockroach first is obviously the superior being, therefore winning bragging rights and a space in the neighbor’s house. While this may seem rather odd, it’s a great way to kill time while waiting for Nook’s new store to open. This is a great way to befriend neighbors now, as well as add items to one’s collection, as bugs and fish are tracked through the main menu.

Sadly, neighbors don't collect Pitfalls. Another reason to plant them around their house.

As well as the main menu, items such as bugs, fossils, fish and paintings can be collected in the town museum. This is one of those things that makes the town cool, as it is up to players on what goes into their museum. New to the museum this time around are the Observatory and the Coffee Shop entitled “The Roost”. The Observatory lots player make constellations in the sky, which can be viewed at night and even be made in other players towns. This is one of those unique things that’s really just cool to look at and doesn’t really play a huge part in one’s town. The same can be said about ‘The Roost’. Players can buy coffee, befriend the bartender and get music from K.K. Slider.

While on the topic of music, the music in Wild World hasn’t changed much at all. It still consists of the same hummable tunes as the original, as well as some new music. While the music is fairly simple, it fits the Wild World profile very well. The ‘voices’ of the characters just consists of random mumbling, which surprisingly doesn’t get annoying. Players can change the type of speak if they choose, but it really isn’t necessary. The sound effects of regular tasks themselves sound pretty much the same as the Gamecube version.

The graphics also look similar to that of the Gamecube version. Although when compared side-by-side, the original’s graphics are much brighter and colorful. Some items are more noticeable than others. For example, the fishing pole in Wild World is much darker than the one on the Gamecube. These little things aren’t enough to turn one away, but if one was a fan of the original, it’s noticeable.

One of the biggest selling points of Wild World is the Wi-Fi compatibility. While this is a great idea, it’s really one of the low points of the game. While some of the Wi-Fi stuff is rather fun and has tons of potential, the rest is rather boring and needed to be thought out a little more. The main draw of Wi-Fi is that players can go into each others towns. This is true, but players must first exchange friend codes. This makes it hard for those gamers who don’t have any friends with a copy of Wild World. Once players exchange codes, there’s not much to do. While players can compete in fish catching competitions and play games of hide-and-go-seek, that’s about it. Nintendo didn’t supply enough ‘stuff’ to do online.

Other parts of Wi-Fi are rather interesting though. When connected to Nintendo WFC, copies of Wild World exchange things. Whether it be neighbors, Blanca (the cat where players can draw faces) or messages in a bottle. The potential for this option is amazing. Neighbors could be wearing a players design, move to another town and then other animals could wear that design, ultimately moving the design throughout the world. This also works for constellations and catch phrases.

Although player-to-player Wi-Fi still has its perks. What’s there works very well. The chatting system is very efficient is used with the stylus and there are a few emotions that can be expressed as well. Tom Nooks can’t be updated to a certain level without a non-native player buying an item from Nook. As said before, Wi-Fi is pretty much Wild World with a second character. Well, at least there are games of ‘Net Tag’.

Another addition to Wild World is the stylus control. Players can choose between analog and stylus control. The problem is that there’s no real draw to use the stylus. It’s a matter of preference. It’s a little easier to use the d-pad, but the menu is much easier with the stylus. Switching between both is recommended, but besides the menu, players probably won’t use the stylus at all. Besides control, there’s not much that uses the stylus in any innovative way. Players can make patterns via the touch screen, but that’s about it.

One of the things players can access in this menu are clothes. In the Gamecube version, one piece of clothing covered everything. This time around, players can choose between shirts, hats, glasses and headgear. Players can wear a Bunny Hood or a Hockey Mask. This really lets the players personality shine through. Also, at a certain point, players unlock ‘Shampoodle’, a hair salon where players can get a new haircut based on a series of questions. One of the better additions that really lets players customize not only their house, but themselves as well.

Customization lets personality shine through.

The biggest draw of Wild World is that it’s essentially Animal Crossing for the DS. The basic addicting gameplay is still there. Players are a human stuck in a little town filled with animals that have house themes and enjoy catching fish and bugs. Players will sell fruits, shells and furniture to pay off their debt to Tom Nook and expand their house and Nook’s store. While doing this, players can catch bugs, fish, dig up bones, buy paintings, create clothes, create town tunes and a million other things. One of the best things about the Animal Crossing series is that you can never run out of things to do. Ever. Wild World will go on forever, no matter how long one plays.

With all the additions to the Animal Crossing series, Wild World is a must own for DS owners. Although there are some flaws and letdowns, Wild World maintains the addictive gameplay that made it a hit on the Gamecube. If players can find enough people to play with, Wild World is a huge expansive game. Even if they can’t, Wild World has so much value that they’ll be playing it for months, maybe even years after they first pop it into their DS.

Overall: 8.9/10

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