Some things get better and some things never change. Going in I knew Animal Crossing: City Folk (for the Nintendo Wii) would be remaining mostly unchanged from its predecessor AC: Wild World on the DS. But frankly I didn’t care and wanted to try it out for myself even after reading a few lackluster reviews. What really surprised me after playing was how it was able to hook me in…again. Which is pretty admirable seeing how it’s the same damn game I’ve played TWICE before.
The Animal Crossing series has always been able to take boring tasks like paying a mortgage, picking weeds, making deliveries, planting flowers and trees, cleaning up trash, fishing, digging up fossils, catching bugs…and transform them into fun. The charm of the game is its ability to introduce new “carrots” along the way that encourage you to continue playing. Payoff your first mortgage to Tom Nook and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
The following are some of the additions and changes to the series that have for the most part won me over.
In the Gamecube and DS versions, time traveling or TT was frowned upon. If you forgot to save before turning off your game or if you changed the internal clock, Resetti would popup and drone on about the ill effects of not saving properly. TT’ing was mostly used to make money quick with the drawback of having a ton of weeds and bugs in your house to deal with after.
In City Folk I’ve been known to TT a day or so to catch events I missed. This time around Resetti doesn’t bug you and the game itself makes it easy to change the time before entering your town. If you TT your turnips will wilt, you will get weeds, you can’t gain interest (unless you change the Wii’s clock in the system settings), and town folk may leave. But used in moderation I see no problem with going back a few hours so you can enter Nook’s or catch special visitors.
A cool addition is the ability to import your character from Animal Crossing: Wild World on the Nintendo DS. Everything you obtained in your catalog makes the move (with the exception of some rare items). You don’t bring over the physical items, house expansions, or accumulated bells. But you can re-purchase any of these items from Nook by asking to see your item catalog.
If you don’t have access to the internet, but do have a DS, you can take your character to a friend’s town through a process called DS Suitcase. The game essentially saves your character to a DS allowing you to go to a friend’s town, mess around, earn bells/trade items/etc, save back to your DS, and then return to your town at home. Pretty handy if you don’t have an Internet connection to visit a friend via Nintendo WFC and want to nab some foreign fruit.
At first I thought you could transfer your save from the Wii to a SD card and visit this way (similar to the Gamecube game). But sadly you can’t since the save is locked to your console. Although if you installed the Homebrew Channel there are tools that let you transfer it and then edit your town data on a PC. Browsing around on YouTube I found a ton of crazy looking towns and glitches going on. While it might be fun to tinker with your town, I don’t really see the point if you want to get the most enjoyment out of Animal Crossing. Getting rich quick and having all the rare stuff right away defeats the purpose of playing the game. Meh…
For the most part everything functions and looks like it did in Wild World. The exceptions being you can now have a fountain, windmill (helps with perfect town status), or lighthouse (helps bring in rare fish) built by donating enough bells to the town fund.
I like how you can still customize the gate’s flag and place patterns on the ground — to do some really creative paths. Pattern making has been enhanced allowing you to create what are called Pro Designs. Now you can design clothing and work on the front, back, and sides independently to do elaborate and realistic costumes.
What I don’t like is how your house expands. Instead of building rooms off of the house like in Wild World, you get additional floors. I suppose it’s nice to have a basement again but having a kitchen on the second floor doesn’t really make a whole heck of sense does it?
Another small change is the floating balloons that appear randomly during the day. In WW they floated above the horizon and you’d hear a blowing wind sound effect. In City Folk they hover directly above you and a shadow can be seen on the ground below it.
A feature I thought was cool at first has caused quite the uproar in the AC community. Walking the same route daily will wear the grass or snow away, leaving a dirt path in its wake. The effects aren’t obvious until you quit for the day, but the ground does wear away and look like sand. The developers thought this would help visiting friends find their way through your town. At first I thought it might grow back, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. Lame.
Using the Wiimote and nun-chuck combo is so much better than the DS d-pad and stylus combo. My hands no longer cramp from holding the DS and playing for long periods of time. Drawing patterns with a Wiimote kind of sucks, but what can you do. A select all button for quicker Nook transactions would have been nice too.
If you plug in any USB keyboard it is instantly recognized by the Wii and allows you to type letters or chat with friends quickly. The function keys are mapped to your Dr. Shrunk emotions as well, which is convenient if you want to emote anger in a hurry.
Pressing the 1 button on the Wiimote takes a screenshot and then you can transfer it to a SD card or post it to your Wii Message board to send to friends. Trying to take photos of the screen with a camera while struggling to keep the action in focus is a thing of the past. Now you can document all the inappropriate catch phrases and greetings your neighbors’ say or rare Gyroids you may discover.
For the most part the City is a 💤 fest. You can visit Dr. Shrunk and pay 800 bells to learn a new emotion (you can hold up to four at a time).
Go to Gracie’s and get ripped off on some furniture or ’trendy’ clothing. Guess this changes depending on the season, so maybe something cool will pop up and I’ll feel like spending 140,000 on a table… or not.
Learn more about why you weren’t chosen to be the model room of the week by the HRA, which is sort of cool since it pulls from all of your friends.
Put your rare items up for auction or bid on your friends’ stuff…cool…but not. I’m guessing this is a limitation of Nintendo WFC because you can only bid and sell on a certain day, and once an auction starts for the week you can’t sell anything else. I’ve yet to remember what day I can actually sell shit on and go back to the city to auction something. Very inconvenient! Can you imagine if eBay only let you bid or sell items one day a week?
A few more things you can do in the city:
- Change your shoe color by getting them shined by some skunk.
- Check out Crazy Redd’s forgeries of the week.
- Get a haircut or put your Mii’s face on at Shampoodles.
- Learn what your town’s charm is.
- Receive a pinwheel, balloon, or bubbles from the balloon man who shows up on sunny days.
This could have been great, instead you get another under realized implementation of online functionality by Nintendo. Works just like Wild World — you register friend codes and then you can open your gates or travel to only their towns. You can add other people to your list if they happen to be in a town you’re visiting, but that’s about it. No hub to meet other people in your extended circles — no nothing.
I get it — Nintendo wants to keep it family friendly and safe by sticking with this awful friend code business. But why in the world do you force me to check with Copper every time I want to see if a friend is online? Why can’t the Wii be online all the time and notify me when a friend is available ala Xbox Live or any other online service? Get with it Nintendo! Guess that’s what you get when you duct tape two Gamecubes together…
I haven’t come across these yet so I’m not sure if they were removed or what.
- Faceless character that asks for a new face.
- Missing cats that randomly need finding.
- Bottled messages that wash up on your beach.
I wonder with Microsoft trying to make the Xbox 360 appeal to the casual gamer, if they will ever create a true Animal Crossing clone? When Viva Pinata came out I thought that maybe it was their answer to Animal Crossing. Well not really seeing how all the fun stuff in Animal Crossing was nowhere to be found in Viva Pinata. I can only hope they’re working on a true rip-off of the Animal Crossing franchise that has full avatar support and is backed by Xbox Live’s excellent online experience. Oh and lots of achievements… damn that would be an amazing game.
That being said. Feel free to add my friend code and town information if you have Animal Crossing: City Folk. Leave a comment with your friend code and I’ll add you. Always looking for more people to play with since it can be hard to find open towns late at night.