E3 2008: Animal Crossing: City Folk Nintendo E3 Conference Impressions

One of the highlights of Nintendo's E3 press conference was Animal Crossing: City Folk on the Wii.

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Although it isn't one of Nintendo's longest-running franchises, Animal Crossing has quickly built up a strong base of fans over the past few years. It was the jump from the GameCube to the DS that really helped the series hit its potential, given that the online functionality let players visit their friends all over the world. It's this feature that seems to be the crux of the latest entry in the series, Animal Crossing: City Folk, which will be released on the Wii by the end of 2008.

The video presentation shown at Nintendo's E3 press conference gave us an insight into a number of key features in the game. The concept seems to be the same: You'll set up your own character and town, and then experience a consistent real-time world right on your own console. Characters in your town will get up and go to sleep each day and go about their business, and they'll celebrate key holidays such as Halloween and New Year. But communication is the key, and you'll be able to send letters to other real people around the world, as well as visit their towns using the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection.

A new peripheral called WiiSpeak will take this communication element even further by letting Wii owners talk with each other online for the first time. Nintendo described WiiSpeak as an optional peripheral with which owners will be able to speak to groups of friends online in real time. Nintendo showed off an example of a group going fishing, and they taunted each other as they competed to catch the biggest fish.

Tying in with other popular online activities, there will also be an auction site in the game where you can trade items. You can further customise your in-game character by visiting the Gracie fashion store, by getting a haircut, or by putting on a mask to look like your Mii character. This experience will definitely be enhanced by traveling to other towns and seeing how your friends have customised their houses and towns, and we saw how bedrooms can be fitted out with arcade machines, pinball tables, and jukeboxes. It was difficult to tell if these items would be playable, but it looked as if the characters in the video were using them in some way.

We were also excited to hear that you'll be able send letters to other players in-game, and if they're not in the game, they'll receive them on their PC or mobile phone. Although it looks like you'll have to use an onscreen keyboard to write letters, you'll be able to attach pictures to your letters as well. We're hoping to see more of Animal Crossing when we see Nintendo later today, so stay tuned for more updates throughout E3.

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