Genre: Life Simulation / heroin
Ahh, Animal Crossing. Ask just about anyone who has set foot into the virtual world full of furry citizens and they’ll most likely be able to sum their experiences up in one word: addiction. I’m not sure what it is, but doing odd jobs for Joey the Duck to get goodies to sell to pay off your mortgage to Tom Nook for your overpriced piece of crap house is simply addicting. Well it was the first time around way back on the GameCube, anyway. The DS version was a little less heavy hitting, and now here we are with the Wii. Does Animal Crossing: City Folk stick the heroin filled needle of city life into your gamer vein, or is it time to find a new drug? I mean game.
Animal Crossing is and always has been about one thing and one thing only; Anything. That’s right, the main concept behind Nintendo’s hairy life simulator is that you do whatever you want. No set goals, no points, no rewards, no time limit. Nothing.
So what makes this a game, you ask? While it is true that there are no set goals, the player will eventually set their own. You start off on a bus talking to a cat named Rover who asks you personal questions. During this conversation with the curious kitty you’ll specify your name, gender, and town name. You’ll eventually arrive to your town, which is named whatever you told Rover, where you’ll meet Tom Nook, the mayor, and all the other people who currently reside in your town.
The aforementioned Tom Nook plays a huge roll in actually getting the game rolling. He’s a businessman, you see, who owns a small store called Nook’s Cranny and dabbles in real estate. It is from this man, or raccoon I guess, that you’ll buy your first house… for 20,000 bells!!!! (bells are the game world’s currency) Oh but don’t you worry. Even though you have no money and have no idea how to get any, the good Nook will be extremely generous and offer you a part-time job at his shack, running odd jobs and such. Through this part time job you will become familiar with the entire town and those who reside there as Tom’s jobs require nothing more than running errands to the other citizens.
Once your employment is complete and you’ve managed to pay off a small amount to your staggering debt it is all up to you to earn cash and pay Mr. Nook back. You’ll do this by fishing, treasure hunting and bug catching, picking up sea shells or knocking fruit out of a tree, running all over God’s creation for the other citizens in exchange for wallpaper, carpet, or random other knick-knacks. Everything you obtain you can sell to the Cranny. If you don’t want to sell your fossils, fish, or bugs, then you can donate them to your local museum and eventually build some pretty neat displays.
If you don’t want to pay off your debt, however, you don’t have to. This simply means you will never get a larger house to store some of the neat things you will find or decorate to your exact liking. But if you start playing you’re gonna want a bigger house eventually. There’s just too much cool stuff you’re gonna want to show off.
Now that I’ve summed everything up I want to talk about how much of a disappointment Animal Crossing’s Wii outing is. First off, there’s barely anything in terms of new content to set it apart from the GameCube and DS versions. In fact, there’s so much wasted potential here it almost makes me sick. For instance, no classic NES games. This makes sense since Nintendo would be losing money it should make with the Virtual Console, but they could’ve incorporated the games you’ve already bought into your town so you can play them whenever you want without having to quit playing Animal Crossing. And all that neat stuff I told you about? It’s pure decoration. Some items make noises or flash lights, but how awesome would it be if you could play a game of billiards on that pool table, or pick up that guitar and jam Wii Music style? Totally awesome.
I’ve left the online component after the disappointments because it’s a mixed bag. The potential for fun is there. It runs great and WiiSpeak makes chatting with your friends a fun experience, especially if they live far away. The only thing holding it back? Friend codes. Why the hell are these the accepted Nintendo standard? It’s really way too much of a pain in the ass to have to deal with, but if you suck it up and exchange friend codes and set a date and time to play, then you’ll have fun. If you’re like everyone else then you’ll just stay offline and try to pretend you’re not disappointed.
The citizens of your town all love to jabber, and they do it with a cute little blabbing noise that’s very reminiscent of Star Fox. The music in the game is all chill and mellow, and sound effect fit perfectly with the visual style. The real sound related treat is when KK Slyder comes to perform a live show in your town. Trust me, you want to see this dog’s show. It’s nothing overwhelming, but you can’t help but smile when you hear him play a song on his 6-string.
While it is basic and plain, the textures are crisp and the models look decent. There are no stunning effects of any kind, and you won’t be blown away by anything you ever see in this game, but the cutesy visuals do just fine and I wouldn’t want the game any other way. It could all be done better, though. Much better.
Something that many gamers welcome is the DS version’s rolling log landscape. I find it makes exploring your town much harder than the GameCube versions grid layout, but you get used to it. You’ll just get lost more often. Another neat treat is the fact that you can put on a “mask” of your Mii. Why they just didn’t make your character your own personal Mii anyway is beyond me, but this is a nice substitute.
While it’s true that Animal Crossing is full of disappointments for long time vets of the series, there is still plenty to love here. If it’s been a while since your last outing to the Crossing then you’ll fall in love with it all over again. If you’ve been playing the DS version since its release, then you’ll probably get burnt out on City Folk pretty quickly.
If you have never played any of the games in the series, however, then you’ll play this game for months and months on end. You’ll be lucky enough to find the magic that most gamers haven’t experienced since the first time they picked up the GameCube original over 6 years ago.
All in all, if you’re not already burnt out on the series or if it’s been a while since your last binge, then City Folk will last you a few solid months, possibly more.
If you remember sinking 12,735,086,001 hours into the GameCube version, then 88,084,004 into the Nintendo DS sequel then you will find very few new experiences in City Folk. You’ll walk away feeling disappointed that there was so much wasted potential, but you’ll find yourself playing and loving it anyway, just not as much as you would’ve if they made this an all new game since this one feels like nothing more than a re-hash.
- Plenty to do keep you busy for months
- Cutesy art style
- KK Slyder
- Improved online includes…
- Wii Speak for voice chat
- Sound effects are all too basic
- The visuals are lacking and should be so much better
- So much wasted potential
- Gets boring fast for long time fans
- Really, so much wasted potential
Overall: 7.6/10 (Slightly above average, could’ve been magnificent)
Gameplay: 7.5/10 (Should’ve been much higher, just so much they could’ve done)
Sound: 7/10 (While it’s all basic, it works)
Graphics: 7/10 (Could’ve been much better, but has a certain undeniable charm regardless)
Replay Value: 9/10 (Subtract 1.5 if you’ve burnt out on a previous iteration before)