Almost all of the reviews available on the web for the latest in the “Animal Crossing” series, “Animal Crossing: City Folk”, seem to come from those who aren’t really die-hard fans of the games. So, I thought I would give my opinion on the third (as far as US releases are concerned) game in the, casual-gaming friendly, series.
- Familiarty/Ease of Play: Those who haven’t picked up a game in the “Animal Crossing” series will find it very easy to pick this game up, and play it.
- Open-ended Game Play: This game is great for those who are very casual about their gaming. Granted, I can undertake quests for Triforce pieces with the best of them, but, sometimes I just want to kick back and do little. But, still be playing a game (if that makes any sense). I look at AC:CF as a way to unwind. Do a little shopping. Fish for awhile, then when I am done…that’s it.
- Inclusion of “Wild World” Elements: I am grateful that Nintendo included some of the better elements of the Nintendo DS game in the series, “Animal Crossing: Wild World”. The rotating, drum-like world is a big step above the GameCube game’s top-down approach. Also, seeing animal villagers that debuted in WW returning is a big plus.
- The City: The city is there for those who don’t want to spend all day milling about town fishing. It’s nice to have somewhere to go (though there might not be a ton to do) when your town gets to you. Also, the animals that spend their time in the city will tell you of the comings and goings of people on your friends list.
- Wii Speak: Nintendo finally takes the Wii a step in the right direction. Wii Speak allows those that have it (currently only working with AC:CF, until tomorrow) chat with those they are playing with. Live! Having this chat is a wonderful feature, since typing in AC:CF (without a USB keyboard) is not a fun process.
- Friends Lists: Granted, this is where it’s usually a pain with most Wii titles. Having to register friends, etc. But, with AC:CF, you don’t want just anyone running loose in your city. There is a great site out there to meet people, too. Animal Crossing Community. With this feature, those on your friends list can only come when you open your town’s gate.
- The Animal Path: This is a rather innovative change to the series. With your constant running about, sometimes you use a certain route that you prefer. In AC:CF, the grass will eventually wear down, and create a path that shows where you travel the most.
- Wii Controls: This is where the Wii shines. AC:CF, and other games in the series, have a few actions that have been made more realistic thanks to the Wii-mote. Want to fish? Flick the controller, and your character will cast out. Swing the bug-catching net the same way. Sadly the shovel doesn’t use any manner of controller swinging. These actions actually make it easier to perform a net or fishing pole swing, with a animal nearby. Usually it’s a push of the A button to swing (which you can still do), but, if the animal is close, that just triggers a conversation.
- Ability to Port Over “Wild World” Characters: I started my game fresh with a character named “John”. Exciting, I know. Soon after, my sister had a character she started. Then I decided to bring over a character that I had in “Animal Crossing: Wild World”. The sad part is, he comes with nothing. No money, no items. Nothing! The good thing is, though, that he brought over his catalog, which is a list of items that you owned in the previous game. Now I can order some things that I have yet to see in my day-to-day playing.
- Few Changes: While familiarity is all well and good, there is more that could have been changed. Little things, really. Town layouts are rather stale. I think there should have been a few new features involved. Though Nintendo does promise some downloadable content, so time will tell here.
- Lack of Animal Tasks: Whereas the original “Animal Crossing” had you completing tasks for the animal villagers, AC:CF doesn’t give you that option as often. Doing tasks for these critters was a great way to collect furniture and build your catalog at Tom Nook’s store. There are occasional tasks, but, they are rare.
- Designing Clothes: I should be thrilled that you can now design every part of your shirt (sleeves and back, as well as front). Frankly, though, this is very tough with the Wii-mote. It was fun to do this, in WW, because you had the stylus, and could easily draw what you wanted. It’s tedious to do it with the Wii-mote. It’s a shame, because I like visiting the Abel Sisters (the town’s hedgehog tailors).
- Dwelling Size: Maybe I am just spoiled by “Animal Crossing: Wild World” and it’s HUGE house, but, the houses in “City Folk” are just too small. Yes, I know that all four playable characters lived in one house, in WW. You did need the space (large single-room downstairs with 3 medium rooms off of it, 1 medium-sized floor above, plus the attic/bedroom that functioned as the save room) if everyone wanted to decorate. AC:CF hearkens back to the house in the original game. Large room, middle floor and basement (as well as the attic, which is brought over from WW). But, I wanted ALL the rooms.
- Amount of Time Between Nook Upgrades: Tom Nook, resident entrepeneur and tanuki (sans the HUGE testicles), runs the only shop in town, that sells furniture. That is, at a reasonable price. There is “GracieGrace” (run by giraffe fashion-icon, Gracie) in the city, but, her furniture is so damned expensive. Back to Tom, though. His shop expands as you pay off your house loans/buy from him/sell to him. It seems to take forever in this game, though. And as his shop is small at the start, he only carries a few items.
- Frequency of Certain Items: It may just be me, but, I keep managing to get the same certain items over and over. Be they from the animal villagers, or found by me in trees, they are always the same. And they never seem to be what I am looking for!!
- Mii Mask: Part of the reason I enjoyed “Animal Crossing: Wild World” so much, was that you could customize your character, a bit. This was done at “The Shampoodle”, a beauty parlor run by…well…a poodle. She would change your hairstyle, and color, based upon some answers given to questions she asked. In “City Folk”, Harriet (that’s the poodle) offers a total makeover option. With this option chosen, she allows you to choose one of your saved Miis (Nintendo’s avatar system on the Wii) and she makes it into a mask you can don. I actually do not like them, really. I think they look hideous!
This really is a good game. Whether you are an “Animal Crossing” virgin, or veteran, and you are looking for something that isn’t necessarily “hands-on”, you might enjoy it. I play it every day for however long I feel like it. That is as long as someone else isn’t looking to play.