Animal Crossing: City Folk

by Bayli

December 15, 2008

In 2002, Nintendo introduced their cute, charming version of The Sims (aside from the house fires and having your kids taken away from you because you didn't build a bathroom in your house). Its name? Animal Crossing. The plot is that your character, looking a mature 10 years old, leaves home to live in a town full of cuddly animal neighbors. There's no clear objective; you want to pay off your house so you can have the biggest house possible, collect every variety of fish and insects, complete your town's museum, etc.

Now you may be wondering, "What is the appeal of that? Doesn't sound too much like a game to me!" I was skeptical, as well. Hell, I think everyone was skeptical of its fun value before they played it. But, there's something enchanting about it. I can't explain its appeal to you, but it's something that is hard to put down.

The second game, AC: Wild World, didn't necessarily change the game, but it definitely improved it. It added online play (where basically, you and up three friends can play together in your town, or you can visit your friends town). Because of the handy online play, it was easier to collect different items. If there was nothing at Tom Nook's shop you wanted that day, you could easily visit your friend's town to see what he had. There were also little things added like having a savings account, more clothes, more furniture, etc.

Nintendo recently introduced us to its third installment to the Animal Crossing series for the Wii, Animal Crossing: City Folk. What makes it different than the rest? Why, going to the city, of course. But, is that really enough to make this a new, fresh AC that we haven't played? No. No, it's not. When you play Animal Crossing, you slave away hours into it. The improvements from the first AC to Wild World were enough to make it fun and exciting to replay. But, the only new thing is going to the city. It's nice to expand to a new part of the Animal Crossing world we haven't visited. But it would be a hell of a lot nicer if the city wasn't so SMALL. Your town is like at least eight times bigger than the city. There's more shit to do in your town than to do in the city.

In the city, there are six different places to go: Redd's shop, the theater, the Happy Room Academy, Gracie Grace's, an auction house, Shampoodle's, and Katrina's fortune telling shop. Redd's shop goes without explanation, but you will need an invite to get in, and pay 3,000 bells to become a member. The theater is a new part of the game. Instead of Dr. Shrunk randomly visiting your town like in AC:WW, you can pay 800 bells to pick an emotion you'd like to learn; you can hold up to four. They're supposed to be for online play, but you can use them anytime during the game. And yes, you can finally get to see the Happy Room Academy. Who else in charge but Lyles, the insurance guy. Every month has a 'theme', and there will be an example room in the back of the HRA so you can get an idea of what they're asking for. (The example room is generated by your online friend's list; whoever ranked the highest on your list has their room as the example). Gracie Grace's is the department store of the city with everything RIDICULOUSLY overpriced. Buying the whole furniture collection will run you well over a million bells. Everything is nice, yes. But I hope you've sold a shitload of fruit.

Another new idea brought to City Folk is the auction house. I myself haven't played with it because well, frankly, I'm not going to wake up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning to see what I can bid on. But that's the idea, really. You can put something up for bid, or you can bid on something yourself. Hince the name "auction house". Also, in the city, there's a skunk that will shine your shoes for 500 bells. Yes, no more red shoes! You can now color coordinate your shoes with your outfit. Maybe I'm the only one that was bothered with red shoes with my security guard outfit, I don't know. Next is Shampoodle's. Instead of having to wait for Nook to upgrade to Nookington's, Shampoodle's is now in the city. Your first visit is a free Mii makeover. Your AC character can now look like any Mii of your choosing! Or, you can get a makeover for 3,000 bells like in Wild World. And finally, there is Katrina's fortune telling, which is useless and not worth the bells. Also there is a Walrus that sometimes stands in the middle of the city square handing out your choice of a balloon, bunny balloon, a bubble wand, or a pinwheel.

So there you have it, the city life of Animal Crossing. Other than that, the classic game we all know and love hasn't changed. The Wii remote and nunchuck offer optional waggle controls, but I don't find myself using them at all. Which is annoying because when you bring up the menu, you have to point the remote at the screen. Also, unlike in Wild World, you have to individually highlight every item in your inventory. In WW you could drag the style to easily highlight items. The D-Pad on the Wii remote is handy. Left and right switches your equipment in your inventory and down puts them away. Up on the D-Pad let's you look at the sky to look at the consellations you created.

Maybe the beef I have with this is that I can't find the time to sit down and play this game for hours like I used to be able to. Overall, I enjoy it. I haven't used the Wii Speak peripheral, so I cannot go into detail of how well it works. Animal Crossing keeps its same charm with the third game, but it falls short of introducing enough new ideas to wow me.