Review by Kowbrainz

"Doesn't matter if you're under 10 or over 40. Absolute MUST buy for all DS owners."

It's a horrible feeling like no other. You wake up on Sunday - a little later and a little groggier than you usually would. You wash your face, take a trip to the bathroom before heading into the kitchen. You open the cupboard, grab out a plate and stare up at the kitchen clock for a few seconds. And then the horrible truth hits you. You rush back into your room and grab your DS, flipping the on switch like mad. You're tapping the A button in a frenzy, but it's no use. You can't buy turnips after 12pm. Your plans for the week are ruined, and you'll have to wait until next week for another opportunity. Great.

Animal Crossing is that sort of game with very simplistic gameplay and objectives which can get you hooked into playing every single day. If you haven't played a game in the franchise before, it's basically a mix of The Sims and Harvest Moon with a little more control. You basically control a character within a small town full of friendly (and some not so friendly) animal villagers and are able to do what you want around town in real-time.

The game accommodates extremely well for players with differing tastes. If you want to, you can do a bit of everything around the town, otherwise if you're more interested in one particular thing, you can do that alone. You can decorate your house with furniture (and later on, expand the house if you have the money). You can fish in the river or the sea, or go hunting for bugs – both of which can be donated to the town's museum to put on display. It's a nice idea to fill the place up with all the species you can find so you can show off to friends, too. You can also garden if you've got a green thumb, and plant flowers and trees around town in any formation you wish. Start planting enough and you may get new varieties of flowers popping up as well. Don't forget to water these rarities, though.

Finally, you can talk to your local villagers and see how they're feeling, what they're up to, or you can snoop on their own houses if you need ideas for decorating your own. Sometimes they even give you tasks to do, so if you like rewards, then it's great to talk to them. There are many different animals in the world of animal crossing, and you'll get old villagers moving out and new ones moving in all the time, so it never gets boring. Don't worry if you have a favourite villager, though, as they're sure to stay if you keep up the communication up with them – they'll be sure to think it over in the end.

Whilst the touch screen shows the bulk of what's going on in the game on the ground, the top screen shows the sky. Although you may be able stargaze at night and shoot down flying presents (as well as the local flying postman, Pete on occasion), it isn't used for very much at all in comparison to other games on the DS. Perhaps it may have been a better idea if the game kept the action on the top screen and an interactive menu on the touch screen so you didn't have to pause every time you needed to look at something in your inventory - then the screen wouldn't have felt like a few inches of wasted space. That said, it doesn't subtract anything from the game in terms of gameplay. You'll still be having a good enough time on the ground to be worrying about what goes on in the sky.

The visuals used in Wild World are of outstanding quality for a DS title, and overall it looks a lot better than most titles on the N64. The character models are great, the texturing is lovely and the lighting effects used are spot on. The transitions you'll see in the lighting from day to night are really nice, too – playing at 5pm in the afternoon gives a lovely sunset on the top screen, with darkened lighting and shadows over your town. Speaking of time, the different hours of the day are complimented by the many variations of music, too. Each plays a mix of pieces from the main theme, and prove to be very catchy, no matter how long or how many times you hear them looped over. The tunes used in each of the town's buildings are wonderful, and the number of different styled songs you can get from K.K. Slider is fantastic.

Whereas you may think the limited objectives may make the game get old quite fast, this isn't the case. Even after you finish paying off the mortgage for your house, or donating to the museum or catching all the insects or whatever, there are still things to do around town. You can visit Nook's store to buy different furniture for your house when you feel like a change of theme, or visit the Café in the museum for a coffee – late on Saturday nights you'll even get to hear K.K. Slider play out his tunes, and he may even give you a free CD to play back at your own shack on your stereo. You can also enter in the various contests the town holds every few weeks, including fishing, bug catching and even a week-long flower fest for those with the green thumbs. And then there's always Nintendo wifi if you're still bored…

Yes, that's right. Wifi. It's probably the only reason you're buying this if you bought the game on the gamecube, as it's the one main difference between the two which will keep you hooked for that much longer. Animal Crossing: Wild World allows DS owners to travel to other towns in the Animal Crossing world, or open their gates to allow up to three other users into their own town. You'll be able to chat to each other using the game's implemented keyboard in the pause menu, too. Whilst we thought this was pretty neat, it may have been a better idea to allow for voice chat instead, as you'll have to stop whatever you're doing if you wish to communicate. It seemed like a better use of the DS's microphone than the gimmicky minigames you see in other DS titles, at least.

Another annoying thing about wifi is the lack of things to do while you have friends in your town. Any town events (such as the fishing tourney and bug catching contest) aren't present during wifi, so you can't really contest each other to see who gets the biggest bug. There's also a limit on the number of people allowed inside buildings, so if you're thinking of holding an Animal Crossing party, think again, as the game will only allow two people inside your house at one time. Wifi is thus limited to the exploration of other towns, chatting and trading items or shopping. Whilst being able to trade your junk to others for some cash and talking to your friends while running around town is nice, it would've been even better if there was more things to do or support for more players within the town or inside buildings. It's certainly something to look forward to in a sequel.

Now, overall, Animal Crossing: Wild World is a great game. Now, I admit that I've been a bit negative about the game here and its flaws; but once you pick up the game and play with a few friends, you'll become really, and I mean REALLY addicted to it. Even after a few months of playing it every day, you'll still be learning about new fish, new bugs, new tricks in gardening, special furniture and special visitors; it just won't get old. Animal Crossing is worth much more than its price tag reads – I recommend it to anyone with a DS - whether they be a casual gamer or hardcore; younger or in their twenties, thirties – even forties. No matter what your stance on gaming, Animal Crossing: Wild World is a must-buy title for the DS.

Final Scores:
Visuals: 8
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Multiplayer: 7
Replay Value: 8
Overall (not an average): 9

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/26/07

Game Release: Animal Crossing: Wild World (US, 12/05/05)

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