aka Oide yo Doubutsu no Mori in Japan.
Animal Crossing was the surprise Gamecube hit of 2002. It was overshadowed by Mario’s comeback in Super Mario Sunshine and even more so by Samus’ return in Metroid Prime. Animal Crossing was released smack into two huge Gamecube hits, but it still managed to get critical acclaim. There was nothing like Animal Crossing on the market, the unique gameplay and retro NES titles made the game a popular choice for Cube owners. Nintendo hopes to emulate the same success with the “try something different” Nintendo DS audience with Animal Crossing Wild World.
Animal Crossing Wild World doesn’t stray to far from Animal Crossing and if you’ve played through the first game you know what to expect. You start out as a boy or girl moving in to a quaint village. A small house awaits you along with a real community of (you guessed it) animals. From this point on Animal Crossing is open ended, your left in a world to play in as you please. If you want you can meet your new neighbors, knock and their doors to introduce yourself. Maybe you’ll meet Teddy, a bear who loves to work out, Tabby a cat who loves fruit furniture, Camofrog a surly frog in camo drag or one out of a hundred plus animals in the game. You can chit chat with your new friends by walking up to them. Some will be nice, some a little rude, but you’ll want to get to know all of them.
After the introductions head over to Tom Nook’s shop. This little raccoon has a monopoly over the town. Drop by Tom Nook’s to buy furniture to decorate your place or tools like a shovel to dig up fossils. He’s also your informal landlord, since he spotted the tiny house payment for you, you’ve got to pay him back if you want a bigger place. If you want to get that new wallpaper or couch you’ll have to earn some bells. Earning bells is as easy as picking fruit from the trees and selling it back to Tom Nook or you can run around town catching fish to sell. If you’re up for a challenge log on Sunday morning and talk to Joan the warthog. She sells turnips, which act like stocks. Turnip prices fluctuate by the day and you can make a pretty penny if you play your cards right.
Satisfied with a tiny place? Then don’t pay Tom Nook back. Instead enjoy some of the other activities in Animal Crossing like catching insects for the local museum, run by the nocturnal host Blathers. Or go in search of the legendary coelacanth by fishing on the beach. While you’re on the beach, start your own seashell collection to display in your house. Into gardening? Then beautify the town by planting flowers and chopping down trees. Is art your forte? You can draw patterns at the Able Sister’s place and make custom shirts. Designing new patterns using the touch screen would appear to be easier than the Gamecube controller, but it isn’t well tweaked. You need to tap tiny on screen pixels to complete your designs. Also freehand art doesn’t come out well unless you move the stylus slowly. Otherwise you’ll end up missing pixels in your drawing. Making your own constellations is something else new to the series. If you stop by the museum there’s an observatory where you can connect lines between the stars to make your own big dipper. If you like music you can rewrite the town theme, which is played every time you speak to an animal.
There is a lot to do in Animal Crossing Wild World and it’s up to the player to figure out what he/she wants to take on first. However, the game really boils down to collecting. Whether you’re trying to nab every piece of furniture in the snowman set or search for all of the dinosaur fossils you’ll log in hours in search of the final piece. To actually see and get everything in Wild World you’ll have to play the game throughout the year. At different times of the year different fish are swimming in the sea and unusual bugs pop out of their nests. Some items like holiday Halloween furniture can only be found in the month of October. There are so many different items to seek out and so many collections to fill you can spend years just trying to find everything hidden in the game. Where the original Animal Crossing left off Wild World adds in 600 new items to dig up. Now you can get brand new furniture like a shower. One element that will be sorely missed are the NES games. Finding a hidden NES console and playing classics like Balloon Fight and if you had a GameShark, the Legend of Zelda were a huge addition to the game. Wild World opts out of retro goodness in exchange for online play.
The touch screen makes controls easier when you’re typing a letter to an animal pal. You can also move around using the bottom screen and drag items around. All of this is expected use of the DS’ hardware, but it’s the wi-fi abilities of the DS that everyone is curious about. Now with Wild World you can link up with a few nearby friends with wi-fi and visit each town. While in other towns you can trade items, like cherries that can be planted to make cherry trees in your town. Or swap goods collected from each other’s catalog. The ultimate reward is that you can also link up with friends around the world with Nintendo Wifi. All you need is a wireless router or a local hotspot and you’re on your way to visiting a town far away… sort of. However you have to get a friend code first. Nintendo probably put this limit in the game to prevent random people from barging into your village and pillaging it by making tons of holes. While it is cool to play with friends from far away it would have been a brilliant idea to include some kind of lobby where players can meet and do quick trades. Getting people to enter your village is essential for the final Tom Nook store upgrade and swapping different fruit. If you just want to quickly exchange data link up in Tag mode. When you go on tag mode you’ll see a familiar face, Rover, who will exchange bottled letters and constellations with random Animal Crossing users.
The quantity of “new” features in Wild World aren’t much. Besides Wi-fi connectivity, you have an expanded “stash” where you can store more items with a tiny wardrobe and pick up medicine from Tom Nook’s to cure you from a bee sting. If you’ve sunk hours into the Gamecube game you’ll be disappointed to learn that you have to do everything all over again. The first few hours you’ll do the exact same greeting chores that Tom Nook asked you to do for a second time. It might sound like a let down, but Animal Crossing is fun all over again. The DS’ portability lets you enjoy all of the daily events the game has to offer. You can log on at anytime to check turnip prices or catch a fishing contest, it’s like a portable universe in your pocket. No matter how much time you spent the original Animal Crossing Wild World is fun and just as addictive as the Gamecube version.
Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 0/5
Playing Animal Crossing in any other language than yours will probably ruin all of the fun that the game has to offer. Since it is a communication game, literacy is a must.
Animal Crossing Wild World was released on 12.05.05
+ Pros: Online gameplay makes for easy trades and the touch screen control is well suited for Animal Crossing.
- Cons: While Animal Crossing is still as entertaining as before the lack of major new content is likely to disappoint owners of the Gamecube game.
Overall: Animal Crossing: Wild World is a game you’re going to be addicted to for years, there’s always something to do if you play in short breaks and wi-fi connectivity increases Wild World’s replay value. Now if Nintendo just released something new and brought back NES games this would easily be game of the year.
< Screenshots >