Animal Crossing: Wild World
With a happy concept and cartoony look, Nintendo wants to attract an other public, besides the hardcore gamers. Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS) fits perfectly in that picture. Maybe that is why it’s labelled “kiddie” so often. But how childish is this game really? And what’s the difference with the predecessor on the GameCube?
It’s raining terribly when the game starts with you sitting in the back of a cab. The driver, good old Kapp’n who traded his ship for a job on the mainland, starts a little conversation. He is sick of the rain, wants to know what you’re going to do in your new, invented village and asks you if you have enough money to settle down there. Soon you reach your destination, where Tom Nook is waiting to offer you a house. Just like in the previous version, you do chores for him and as soon as you get your freedom back, you can decide for yourself how you will get the money to pay back your loan. You catch fish and bugs, you sell fossils and fruit, whatever you want. Furthermore, you can decorate your house with cute or weird furniture, talk to the animals in your village, write them a letter to stay friends,… At first look, nothing new, Animal Crossing still had the same simple, but very addictive gameplay.
Of course, there are some new things. Besides the shovel, the axe, the net and the fishing-line, you now have a watering can to revive dry flowers. Singer K.K. Slider has a weekly show on Saturday evening in the café under the museum and in the attic, you can draw signs of the Zordiac in the observatory. The Able sisters still let you create your own design, but they now also sell cloths and accessories like glasses and hats. Your house now has no less than six possible expansions, so you can really turn it into a mansion with a left, a right and even a back wing! Although you need an enormous amount of bells (the Animal Crossing currency) for that. If you have all the money in the world, make sure Nook’s shop expands so much that you get a hairdresser. A challenge you’ll have to work months for!
All those little things are fun of course, but the biggest advantage of this version is the online possibility. If you wanted to sneak around in another town, you could also do that in the GameCube version, but in a very extensive way. You had to take your memory card to a friend and put it in their GC. Moreover, you were never able to both be in a village. With the arrival of Wi-Fi, that’s changed. You can even chat with each other.
But the online experience still isn’t what it should be. If you want to enter someone’s village, the gates have to be open. That is only the case if that person enters your friends code. On one hand, the system is very safe – robbers are denied access – but on the other hand the possibilities are now limited. Who doesn’t have any friends codes, is not able to enjoy the interactive element. It would have been more fun if Nintendo had made up some villages of their own, that were accessible for everyone, although checked regularly for fault content. Animal Crossing: Wild World is a huge step forward, but it can be even better.
The same thing counts for the use of the stylus. When you are working in your inventory, it’s a gift from heaven. You can drag objects very quickly to sell them to Nook for example. Typing letters is also much more efficient. If you just want to run around town or you need a certain punctuality (for digging up a fossil, planting flowers,…), then you better don’t use the stylus.
In the beginning, the benefit of the two screens wasn’t always clear. The walking around, picking up objects, talking is all on the lowest screen. The upper screen shows you a beautiful blue sky. Ok, if you open your inventory, the lowest image moves up, but you can hardly call that useful. However, after a while you will notice a present hanging on a balloon floating by on the upper screen once and a while. The purpose is to run up the hill and keep your slingshot ready. Let go at the right moment and the present will be yours. At night you can admire the signs of the Zordiac you drew.
Back to the original question: is this game kiddie? It sure looks very happy and colourful, but if you look how ingenious this game is, then you will have to judge this isn’t kiddie. Of course, you can play superficial: earn money by doing chores, selling fruit, bugs and fishes, decorating your home, expanding the collections in the museum,… But you can also look a little further. For example, the three questions Kapp’n asks you in the beginning. Apparently, those determine how you will look in-game. You want big, happy eyes, little sleepy ones or rather angry ones, a normal hairdo or a funky one? Specialized sites like www.animalxing.com tell you which answers you need to give to look exactly how you want to. There are eight boys and eight girls possible.
It goes even way further than this. Ever heard of Feng Shui? This Chinese art tells you more about the positive and negative effects of energy flows by placing furniture, mirrors, plants, … Nintendo made a variant of this, also present in the first Animal Crossing. A lot of objects have a certain colour you can look up in a long list online. Most of the time, this is necessary, because the Feng Shui colour isn’t always the same as the visible colour. The purpose is to put the yellow objects on the left side of your house, the red ones on the right and the green ones in the front. This way, your luck will be increased. This means if you put the objects according to the Feng Shui way, you have more chances of finding rare objects or getting more money for normal chores. Moreover, some objects have a special Feng Shui power, wherever you put them. Admit it, you can’t call a game kiddie when it has something like this in it.
The Happy Room Academy is back too. They give your house a HRA score based on how big it is, how much mess you made, how much furniture of a certain series you have,… Moreover, there is a lot to discover. Every day there are two trees hiding a piece of furniture in their top. There is also a rock that gives you money when you hit it with your shovel. New in Animal Crossing: Wild World is the possibility to create hybrid flowers. The flower you buy at Nook’s are always white, red or yellow. But if you plant two flowers of the same kind next to each other, for example a yellow and a red rose or a white and a yellow tulip, then a hybrid flower with a secondary colour may grow. Every day, you get five or six new flowers. If you leave enough space around the “parent’s”, you have a chance of growing a hybrid flower. If you succeed in doing it again, you can breed flowers of a tertiary colour. You can earn a nice bit of money selling those to Nook.
But not everything about this version is great. Of course it’s fun that Animal Crossing has our 24-hours-in-a-day system and follows the seasons, but in the GC version it was especially fun to know there was something waiting for you on Christmas, Halloween or another official holiday. That’s different now. There still are holidays and special events, but not on known dates. It’s also a pity they left out retrogames in this DS version. The possibility of finding Punch out!, Excite Bike, Donkey Kong or other Nes games in the GC version, was an extra motivation and a fun variation in between.
Animal Crossing: Wild World is a very simple, but immense addictive game. There are a lot of goals to achieve, but non of them are obliged, you just do what you want to do. The strength lies in letting you discover new things every day, so you just keep playing. Who thinks this game is kiddie, only sees the superficial and not the ingenious part!