Game Review: Animal Crossing City Folk
Release: November 16th, 2008
Developer: Nintendo of America
Available Platforms: Nintendo Wii
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Animal Crossing City Folk is the third game in Nintendo’s town simulating franchise. The first game debuted on the GameCube, followed by a DS version in 2005. The latest iteration is available for the Wii and introduces many new features for both the franchise and the Wii itself. Veterans will find that the formula has not changed much since the GameCube version. People new to the series will be charmed by the animals and amazed at how much there is to see and do.
The basic concept of any Animal Crossing game is to drop you into a town populated with all manner of talking animals and have you live your virtual life. You pick fruit, write letters, and collect items. City Folk does not stray from this idea. When first starting out, you are endentured to Tom Nook so you can learn how to interact with the world and meet your neighbors. Once freed from service, you can do as much or as little as you want in the game world. Making bells (the Animal Crossing currency) is accomplished by selling fruit, shells, and other items you find. This will allow you to pay your house off and eventually upgrade to a bigger place. The point of this is to have more room to store all the items you will undoubtedly collect.
City Folk expands the Animal Crossing world by introducing the ability to hop onto a bus and go to the city. The city is where you will find stores where you can buy clothes, hair styles, and even a shoe shine. There is even an auction house where you can sell rare items to the highest bidder. Moving all of the stores into the city leaves more room for animal neighbors. If you do not interact with them enough, or make them angry, they will leave your town. If you connect with other players via the Wi-Fi Connection, animals from your friend’s towns will move to yours and vice versa. All of this happens during the game whether you are playing or not because Animal Crossing uses the real date and time. This allows for in game holidays and events.
The Wii version offers many new features. First off is the addition of voice chat, which is both new to Animal Crossing and the Wii. If you buy the bundle which includes the WiiSpeak microphone, you will be able to chat with the people that visit your town. The WiiSpeak microphone picks up all conversation in the room you are in so as to stay family friendly. Other new additions include being able to take screenshots at any moment in the game, sending letters to people on your friends list or Wii Message Board, and taking your character to other towns via the DS Suitcase feature.
Of course, no game is perfect. Those of us that have played the previous entries will notice a lot of parallels between those games and City Folk. To the point that you do the exact same chores for Tom Nook in the beginning as you did in the DS version. The majority of items you collect are exactly the same, as are the fish, bugs, and fossils you find. One of the most hyped features is getting a mask for your character that looks like your Mii. Unfortunately, once you have the mask on, you cannot wear any other type of headgear or accessories. The friend code system is in full force here, which means you will have to register people and make sure they register you before you can have them visit.
Bottom line, if you are a new to the franchise, you will find a lot to see and do. I predict you will lose many hours catching fish, selling fruit, and chatting with your animal neighbors. If you’ve been through the GameCube or DS version, you will probably feel deja vu. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of fun to be had. If you loved the other games, then you will definitely love this one.