NINTENDO DS REVIEW: ANIMAL CROSSING: WILD WORLD
Animal Crossing: Wild World
Lots of variety
Multi-player
Tons of replay value
Missing elements of the original
Touch screen & stylus ignored
Some boring parts

Ooh....baby baby....it's a wild world. How's that for an intro with absolutely no imagination whatsover? by Cole Smith

December 8 , 2005 - Imagine if you could hang with your favorite videogame characters in the private virtual world that they inhabit when not starring in blockbuster games. Well, keep imagining, because that's not what happens here. But Animal Crossing: Wild World is not far from this premise. It doesn't feature mega-star characters but it does put you in a simulated world full of charming characters just hanging out.

It might be difficult to explain the appeal of this game since there is no real story, no quest or no particular ending. But I'm a professional, so get the heck out of my way kid and watch papa shoot the bear.

The appeal to Animal Crossing is simple. It's simple. That's the explanation. No need to muddle it all up. The answer is clear, short and concise. That's why I get paid the big bucks.

Animal Crossing: Wild World is not a new game. It's not the sequel to the Cube version, it's actually a modified version of that Cube version. It hasn't been overhauled to the extent that I would recommend it if you've already played the Cube version but it's a very interesting game and one I would definitely recommend checking out if it's new to you. It's geared towards kids but anyone that enjoys the relaxing, openness of a sim is sure to get something out of this.

To elaborate on the appeal of this game, it really boils down to the simple day-to-day activities of the characters in the game and your ability to influence the appearance and activities of your village. It captures some of the charm of Harvest Moon but with virtually no emphasis on reaching structured goals. Once you arrive in the woods you will be befriended by Tom Nook, a raccoon, who will feed you and give you shelter in return for a few errands and chores. All you really need to do is survive is do a little work for these animals. It's kind of like living the life of a hobo. You acquire a house, furnishings, clothing and a lot more but nobody's screaming at you to get it done before the evil dragon comes back.

There is no evil dragon. There are no ghosts, monsters or aliens to kill. About the worst thing you'll encounter is housework. Some shooting is involved, but it involves using a slingshot to shoot down presents that randomly fly overhead. Parents are not to worry, the game is non-violent and there are no adult-oriented themes.

You are encouraged to help build the village the way that you see fit. You can collect bugs and donate them to the museum. You can landscape the village by moving trees, grass, flowers and rocks around. You can build your own house and furnish it will all kinds of neat options. Money is earned by collecting, harvesting, salvaging, fossil hunting and by selling various items. There are plenty of things to keep you occupied and it seems like you'll never explore it all, but things do slowly grind to a halt after a few weeks or months, depending on how often you play the game.

There is an internal clock that manages to keep events in real-time. Some days there just isn't much to do beyond an hour or so of gameplay. This keeps things fresh and you'll look forward to coming back the next day to see what's happening. Holidays, weekends, festivals and events are all kept track of and if you miss a few days or weeks, the game will continue on without you further helping to perpetuate the illusion of a virtual world.

 

There are some new additions to this DS version - and a removal. You have more interactions with NPCs and there are some new tasks to perform and new items to collect. You can express yourself better with new accessories such as different shirts, sunglasses and hats. Gone are the NES mini-games that you could collect and store in your virtual gaming room. This was a good incentive to get off your butt and experience the animal world but there are different things to focus on now. One of the biggest additions is the multi-player aspect. You can play wi-fi or online. Other players can view your village and you can tour theirs. It's an incentive to do something with your life so that others can visit and make fun of you.

There really isn't much to do with in the multi-player mode as far as games are concerned. It's more of a virtual tour where you can visit other online villages although there are some interactions such as chatting, exchanging letters and picking up some of the other players' creations such as patterns. Only four players are allowed in any village at one time and you'll need a friends' code to enter. I don't know why, since the editor is disabled so that visitors can't screw around with your options and turn your village into a house of horrors. Why do I always think of such things?

I must admit to being a little disappointed in the control system as the touch screen and the stylus are not integrated into the gameplay to any great extent. You can poke, prod and scratch with the stylus but the best use of the system is for dragging and dropping inventory or otherwise communicating with the interface. It makes things quicker but it's nothing that couldn't be accomplished with a few buttons and the D-pad.

Graphically the game is impressive on the DS, even though it didn't look that great on the Cube. The characters are cute, the houses are quaint and the environment appears as a streaming map as you move in any direction, disappearing and reappearing over the horizon. Don't expect a whole lot of voiceovers. The interaction between characters is all text-based. Amazingly enough the writers have managed to make most of the different animals' personalities shine through. As you can imagine most of the characters are one-dimensional - but they're animals, give them a break.

If you've got a DS you will probably want to check out a copy of Animal Crossing. Just don't expect a lot of action and to truly savor the experience, limit your playing to an hour or two a day. Think of this game as a huge, living canvas for you to express yourself with.

Features:

  • Players and up to three friends can hang out in the same village and interact in real time - either through wireless LAN or over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Now players can visit a friend's village from thousands of miles away.
  • The touch screen simplifies item management and world navigation. Tap the touch screen to type letters, draw designs for clothing or wallpaper, drag clothing or items onto characters or just lead them around the world.
  • Much of the cast of the original Animal Crossing returns, including animals of all shapes and personality types: K.K. Slider, Tom Nook, Blathers, Mr. Resetti and more. There are also a number of new characters.

By Cole Smith
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)
4.0
Graphics
Fairytale style graphics fit nicely within the context of the story.
3.5
Control
Doesn't make much use of the DS touch and stylus controls except to expedite interface commands.
3.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Too much text and not enough voiceovers. I'm getting sick of reading darn it!
4.0
Online
The multi-player components are a bit of a novelty but a good addition nonetheless.
4.0
Play Value
Played in small doses this game could last you months although it starts to drag near the end. Multi-Player adds an entirely new dimension to Animal Crossing
4.3
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
Preview by Vaughn

It's really not up for debate: Nintendo does make some of the best games. While some gamers may have "grown" up and matured beyond what they believe to be Nintendo's kiddy games, lovers of innovative gaming of all ages continue to revel in some of the coolest gaming experiences thanks to the imaginations at work at the Big N.

Animal Crossing is one such beast - with a visual style less intimidating then the Teletubbies, AC managed to capture the hearts and imaginations of gamers spanning decades in ages on the GameCube. It's open ended gameplay and limitless replay value made it a truly unique experience. Now that same magic is being brought to the Nintendo DS which I'm sure will have many AC junkies flocking to their nearest electronics store to purchase the system if they haven't already given in.

The style of the game seems to have moved a little further away from the "animal" and morphed into something a little more "human", while still maintaining its colorful and cartoony visuals.

What we're really excited about is the ability to go WiFi and visit your friends AC towns even though they could be across the continent. What a cool concept!

Expect Wild World to be released sometime in December in North America. Until then we'll be hanging out at Tom Nooks. Look us up!

Features:

  • Players and up to three friends can hang out in the same village and interact in real time – either through wireless LAN or over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Now players can visit a friend’s village from thousands of miles away.
  • The touch screen simplifies item management and world navigation. Tap the touch screen to type letters, draw designs for clothing or wallpaper, drag clothing or items onto characters or just lead them around the world.
  • Much of the cast of the original Animal Crossing returns, including animals of all shapes and personality types: K.K. Slider, Tom Nook, Blathers, Mr. Resetti and more. There are also a number of new characters.
Click For Media
System: DS
Dev: Nintendo
Pub: Nintendo
Released: Dec 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole Smith

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best