Nintendo Australia Animal Crossing: City Folk
If you look close enough, you can trace the casual roots of today's Nintendo back to the GameCube's quirky runaway phenomenon, Animal Crossing.
- Great laid-back gaming made famous in the first two AC games — with some decent additions in the form of the city and Wi-Fi gameplay
- Not all that different from the first two — nor is it enjoyable for long stretches, the game needs a down-time hook like the NES games were in the first
Animal Crossing: City Folk is cut from the same cloth as the first two titles in the series, meaning it's fun, laid-back, and easy to play in short spurts. However, the lack of change and truly innovative gameplay features means it won't attract folks who hated the series or have been burnt out on co-mingling with talking fauna.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
You Belong to the City
While I certainly had fun getting re-acquainted with the quaint critter-filled town, I knew that the familiar could only satiate me for so long, and the true test of City Folk's mettle was outside of the town limits and the social circle of its inhabitants. I expected big things from the city as I boarded the bus to this strange new destination.
Having only seen a scant few screens of the city, I must say I was surprised at how small the game's selling point ended up being. We're talking about 1/20th the size of your town, with six or seven buildings to enter and four or five animals around to chat with. What the city lacked in size, however, it made up for with charm. The few businesses in the tiny metropolis were fun to peruse and definitely encouraged repeat business. The Happy Room Academy that consistently mocked my decorating skills with snide letters on the GameCube had an actual presence, with a sample room in the back that displayed what the company was looking for. A salon allowed me to drastically change my look, as I had the choice to change my character's hairstyle or even get a complete makeover to look just like my Mii. My favorite city establishment was The Marquee, a performance hall with a "so bad he's good" comedian that offers you a side benefit to watching someone bomb onstage, not to mention the ability to learn facial expressions for your character, to boot. Rounding out the robust establishments is the fact that you're always encountering new animals about the city. For fans of the first two that bemoaned the fact that their town's population was full of duds, visiting the city this time around will alleviate some of the pain.
Wii Speak to Animals
The Wii's Wi-Fi capabilities add another facet of animal interaction to the series with the ability to visit a friend in their town. While you could enter other people's towns in the GameCube version of Animal Crossing, you could only do it while the other player's character wasn't around. In City Folk, you can traverse a town with your buddy (you still have to deal with friend codes, natch), chatting them up via the included Wii Speak accessory. It's a great way to find new items, fish and fruit, but unfortunately, there's not a lot you can do to entertain visiting guests. There's no minigames to take part in, nor can you interact in any meaningful way with the villagers (like running their errands or affecting their mood by cracking their skulls with bug nets). Worst of all, you can't hit up the city together, which would probably be a blast with a friend.
The Wii Speak peripheral works about as well as the standard issue Xbox Live headset, without having to deal with any comfort issues. Ultimately, the online gameplay was a bit too broad for my tastes. I might stop by a friend's town to chat with a friend and see what crazy creatures inhabit his neck of the woods, but there's not much to keep me there for long — or to encourage me to come back.
Back to Civilisation
I've been living amongst animals on Nintendo systems for over six years now, and this, my third move feels like my last. I'm still extremely friendly with the well-spoken critters inhabiting Davville, and I do enjoy kicking back and fishing or shopping for a cool new couch, but the sameness of the franchise over the last few years has begun to wear on me. New arrivals will probably enjoy the multitude of activities in Animal Crossing: City Folk, but long-time residents won't find much to keep them from moving out.
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