Animal Crossing: Wild World Review
Wild World doesn't toy with the original Animal Crossing formula, but simply being able to take your town with you on the go makes it an easy recommendation.
- The exact same brand of addictive gameplay from the first game is front and center here
- Many more fish, bugs, fossils, and other crazy things to collect
- Writing is still very sharp, and the new characters are pretty much all great
- Online play.
- Touch screen controls aren't altogether useful
- Some odd restrictions on the multiplayer features
- A few of the new day-to-day tasks are kind of dull.
Nintendo has made its reputation by creating fun, offbeat, family-friendly gaming experiences that are often considered innovative. But even the most stalwart Nintendo fans had to be a little confused the first time they got a look at Animal Crossing. The very definition of a nongame, Animal Crossing for the GameCube took gentle sprinklings of the role-playing and life-simulation genres and put them into a capriciously adorable world filled with cartoon animals--one that you would have to live and survive in by performing what would normally look like menial labor tasks. But as uneventful as it sounds on paper, Animal Crossing was easily one of the most inexplicably fetching gaming experiences to be had on the GameCube, and it was near impossible not to be taken in by the charms of its precocious animal residents and habitual collecting mechanics. Now, Nintendo has brought the insidiously addictive world of Animal Crossing to the DS in the form of Animal Crossing: Wild World. This isn't a sequel; rather, this is something of a reenvisioning of the last game, with a slew of new collectibles, new characters, new tasks to perform, and some Wi-Fi and online multiplayer functionality to boot. Granted, not every single one of these additions is a slam dunk, and in fact, a few things just aren't as good as they could have been; but Wild World ultimately surpasses the last game, simply because of how much better suited its style of gameplay is for a handheld system like the DS.
The premise of Wild World is identical to that of Animal Crossing. You, a young human, are moving to a new town. You begin this game inside the cab of a salty old fellow named Kapp'n (whom fans of the first game will certainly recognize). He quizzes you on a few different things, and how you answer those questions ultimately determines your gender as well as your appearance. Once in town, you meet up with the local shop keep, Tom Nook. This industrious little raccoon turns out to be the real estate magnate of your new town, and he puts you up in some new digs, despite your lack of funds. Of course, now you're indebted to him to the tune of several thousand bells (the game's form of currency), and it's up to you to pay him back, forthwith. Animal Crossing aficionados will find this setup to be quite familiar, as they will with the events that follow. The tasks and methods for making money generally are the same, with only a few additions here and there to break things up. That's not inherently a bad thing by any means--the system remains just as oddly compelling as it was on the GameCube.
Some of those tasks include catching fish and bugs, digging up fossils, and running errands for the local townsfolk. Fundamentally, all these things work the same as they did on the GameCube, relying on very little in the way of skill, save for the little bouts of reflexive action you'll need in the fish and bug catching. Changes are few and far between, though most of the ones made are for the better. Fossils, for instance, are much more easily identified here. Before, you'd have to send them via a letter to a far-off museum just to get them identified. Now you can simply hit up Blathers the Owl at the town museum, and he can identify them for you on the spot (he must've taken some kind of correspondence course between the first game and this one). When catching fish, you'll have to listen for a specific audio cue to pull in your line rather than relying on the rumbling of the controller to figure out when to pull back. But otherwise, everything works the same. Fish still appear as outlines in the water, letting you know where to drop your line; bugs still appear in their usual places, as do fossils. The difference is that there's just a lot more of all these things to catch and dig up, meaning you'll be spending even more of your free time trying to find that last piece to put together a Pterosaur's skeleton, or those last few rare fish you need for your collection.
There are new tasks to perform in Wild World, but frankly, they're just not as compelling as the holdover tasks from the original game. For example, you can use a watering can to maintain the floral arrangements scattered about town and a slingshot to knock occasional floating presents out of the sky. But these tasks aren't nearly as enthralling as anything else in the game. You don't need to use the slingshot, save for maybe once a day, and watering plants yields very little in the way of a tangible reward, save for the beautification of the town (which, while a valid goal, isn't the most monetarily rewarding task there is).
The thing of it is, however, that the pure mechanical busywork included in the Animal Crossing experience really isn't what makes it so appealing. These are merely means to one of several ends. The main end is the customization of your house and character. As you pay off your debt (and subsequent followup debts, from each major house renovation that comes over time), you'll find yourself in Tom Nook's shop time and time again, selling fruit and fish and bugs and any other bric-a-brac you can find to earn more bells to buy the insanely vast variety of furniture pieces, clothes, and other wacky items available. Want a big, spinning UFO to stick in the middle of your living room? Or a complete set of orange furniture? How about a complete series of man-size (or animal-size) chess pieces? It can all be yours--just not all at once. Only a few items are available each day, and the list changes with each passing day, thus inspiring you to check back constantly with the hope that that modern end table or rare painting you're missing is just a shop visit away. The only thing missing from the collectible items list in Wild World is the roster of classic NES games found in Animal Crossing. There are none to collect here, which is a little disappointing considering how cool it was to get those in the first game.
And that's really the beauty of Animal Crossing. This is very much the kind of game you'll want to check back with daily, simply because there's always something new to check out. Whether it's just the everyday business of shopping and collecting, or one of the many annual events that pop up, there's always something new to see. It's great, because the game uses the DS's internal clock to progress in real time. There are holidays that are based on real-life holidays, and they take place on the dates they're supposed to. Every Saturday, for instance, there's a town flea market in which you can go from house to house, buying other characters' furniture; that same night, the traveling musician K.K. Slider will come and perform, and will give you new music to play in your house. And then there will be periodic visits from characters who can provide you with rare and unique items, like the new traveling salesman who looks and talks like a cross between Gil from The Simpsons and Jack Lemmon's character from Glengarry Glen Ross as he shadily and desperately tries to sell you accident insurance, with hilarious results.
- Player Reviews: 931
- Game Universe:
- Animal Crossing (GC),
- Animal Crossing: City Folk (WII),
- Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS),
- Animal Crossing Card Pack 4 (ERDR),
- Animal Crossing Card Pack 3 (ERDR),
- Animal Crossing Card Pack 2 (ERDR),
- Animal Crossing Card Pack (ERDR),
- Animal Crossing Calculator (DS),
- Animal Crossing Clock (DS),
- Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players: