Animal Crossing: City Folk Updated Hands-On

We venture into the big city to see what life is like on the other side.


Nintendo's darling first-party franchise continues with Animal Crossing: City Folk, which will once again let you live a virtual life in a quiet, unusually green village among familiar furry friends. This time, the big city beckons, so instead of waiting for other people to come visit you, you can hop on a bus and mingle downtown. We had the opportunity at the E3 Media & Business Summit to get a tour of the new Animal Crossing, but at the Nintendo Media Summit in San Francisco, we were able to see firsthand what the city was like for the very first time.

Hop on the bus and head to the city!
Hop on the bus and head to the city!

Animal Crossing is known for its charming presentation and addictive open-ended gameplay. It's easy to dump dozens and even hundreds of hours into your own virtual world, and City Folk is no different. Many of the features that you've gotten to know and love will appear here, so you can schedule your real life around your game calendar to take part in the game's special holidays. The two biggest new features in City Folk are the additions of the city and Wii Speak. Wii Speak wasn't hooked up this time because the room was too loud for it to work properly, but we were told that up to four groups or households can communicate with each other through this Wii peripheral.

We started a new game and found out that we weren't able to get on the bus to go to the city right off the bat. Tom Nook is still in town, and you'll have to do what he tells you to if you hope to get anywhere--or make any bells, the in-game currency. Once we had enough bells in our pockets, we headed into the city. All we did was stand at the bus stop and the bus magically appeared within a few moments. Kapp'n, whom you might remember from the previous games, will be driving the bus to take you to your destination. Once we arrived, we saw a lovely fountain in the city center and many city dwellers milling around. We made our way around the relatively small city circle and visited all of the shops. We first stopped off at Shampoodle, a salon in which, if you want to, you can get a Mii mask so you can look like your Mii. The auction house was empty, but we're sure that once items start to appear, it should become a regular hot spot for people who like to collect new items.

Given that we're nearing Halloween, Gracie's boutique had a lot of colorful Halloween-themed items. Collectors who enjoy hoarding furniture should have a blast trying to decorate their own homes with seasonal furnishings. There was candy-themed furniture as well that looked remarkably sweet and enticing. We were especially attached to the watermelon coffee table we saw at Tangy's house, and the citrus carpet and stools were tasty-looking, too. Dr. Shrunk is also back, but instead of paying you a visit, you can pay to see him do stand-up comedy. He's not very good, but you'll learn some emoticons that can then be used when you play with friends, or if you just feel like making your character laugh or smile.

Dr. Shrunk should stick with his day job.
Dr. Shrunk should stick with his day job.

For those who want to import their Animal Crossing: Wild World character, you can. You can also bring over the items that you have collected in the DS game and transfer them to your catalogue on the Wii. However, you won't be getting the items for free, and your bells don't transfer over, but you'll be able to bring over some of your favorite items. The ability to communicate and share with friends online is incredibly easy, which makes City Folk an ideal social game. You'll need friend codes, but once you have them, you can send each other messages, chat, or visit them in their own towns. If you want to take a picture, pressing the 1 and 2 buttons simultaneously will take a snapshot, save it to the SD card, and then send it to a friend. Although you can't play together on the same system, you can have up to four different towns saved on your Wii so that household members can play in separate villages but still be able to send notes to each other.

City Folk's visuals have been polished since E3, so characters and environments are looking crisp, clean, and cute. Fans should be prepared to once again jump into the colorful world of Animal Crossing, but the best part is that anyone can pick up and play. The controls are simple and the interface is easy to use. There are no goals except the ones you make for yourself, so get ready to start a new life when Animal Crossing: City Folk is released on November 16.

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