Animal Crossing: City Folk
It's been a fair while since we've seen an Animal Crossing Title on the home consoles, but the nature of the game demands very little by updates.
Much like the previous games, AC:CF is a game where you create your own gameplay. In fact, it's more of a life-simulator. Admittedly, the kind of life you lead in Animal Crossing isn't usually what normal people would do in the real world. My family and I love this new incarnation of Animal Crossing, though.
While it's not a particularly different game to the last, I'd have to say that the Wii is a machine much better suited to the kind of experience you'll get from Animal Crossing.
The Wii is all about family entertainment, while the GameCube wasn't so "living-room friendly". This version of the game, like the last one, allows up to four players to inhabit a town. While you can't play at the same time -were you to play with the family- it becomes your town, with the effects of four combined minds. Messages can be left for your fellow townsfolk, letters sent and presents bought. This is only one aspect of the multiplayer, but more on that later.
If you haven't experienced the joy of Animal Crossing in one form or another, it's worth saying that it may not be to everyone's taste. It's a title which requires almost constant attention. That attention isn't very difficult to give, in all honesty, as there's always something to do, and doing things offers a pretty immediate reward.
Starting in your town, for example, means that you'll have to get a rather sizeable loan from one of the cutesy inhabitants, a racoon by the name of Tom Nook. It doesn't take long to pay it off though, as money (or Bells) are a lot easier to get hold of than real life. Fruit, fish, bugs and fossils can all be sold at a hefty price. Doing jobs around the town will also net you some money, and while a few of those jobs aren't that interesting (mostly consisting of you delivering something to someone), there are more fun jobs you can do, like playing hide-and-seek with your neighbors.
In that sense, there's no traditional challenge with Animal Crossing. You can just do anything at your own pace, no real rush to do anything. Sure, one neighbor might make you send a present to someone within a time limit, but who takes 25 minutes to send a parcel? You can, quite easily, spend your days shaking trees and selling the fruits of your labour. That would be insanely boring though, unless you're particularly interested in fruit falling from trees in groups of 3.
The other half of the game is about communication, and that's the part that gets most people's attention. While there is a reasonably sizable online and community aspect, the NPCs are where the real comedy lies. Right from the start, you're bombarded with a wealth or cuteness and silliness which is impossible not to be entertained by. Your contact with the locals isn't simply verbal, however, and while they're quite handy with their tips on how to live, their real passion lies in giving and receiving letters and gifts. Failure to communicate with enough frequency may result in one of your town members leaving for greener pastures. It's quite a painful experience when that happens, especially when you grew a liking to that particular character.
All up, there are 211 different townsfolk, each with there own characteristics, catchphrases, interests and personalities, but only around 5-9 of them will end up living in your town at once.
But if the townsfolk aren't interesting enough for you, with friend codes, you can invite your friends over. Everything you can do in your town can be done with your friends as well. Of course, this requires a great deal of trust in your friends, as they can come, chop down trees, steal your fruit, post on your notice board and leave.
Sometimes, it can get a little lonely in your town, so the addition of a 'city' is a welcome one. I was surprised at the size of the city though, as it was more of an over-priced marketplace. What's there is a great change from your home town, though. There's no greenery, and the concrete paradise is home to all manner of shops and boutiques, where prestige items can be bought for the price of a small car. Much like the real world, much of the community will be about avarice, acquisition and possession. As such, the options for trading, buying and auctioning your items are numerous. The items you buy have no appreciable effect, other than making you or your house look pretty, and the only reason you'll want them is for the novelty of that new T-shirt or helmet. But isn't that a little like the real world, though?
So there's an auction house, hairdresser, fortune teller, shoe shine, fashion boutique, theatre and a show house, as well as a shady organisation which you'll need a recommendation to get into. It's good to see the masons are alive and well in the video game world.
There isn't all that much to do at the start, which may turn some people off, but Animal Crossing is the type of game where it involves devotion to have a good time. The events system is proof of that. On many days of the year,
there will be some sort of event, whether it be a holiday event, competition, or a faceless cat who wants you to draw on her skull.
(Please note that the above images are from the GameCube version, but the characters and roles are the same in City Folk.)
Getting the more desirable items demands your attention to these days, and to make the most of the game, you or your family will have to jump on every day, to see what's happening. No part of Animal Crossing is "pick up and play". The enjoyment of the game is making it part of your daily routine.
What's new to the franchise is pretty minimal, as this is more of a remake than a sequel, but the ability to chat to your friends verbally makes the longevity much more impressive. The feeling of progression, development and possession is also a great draw.
There is always something to do in Animal Crossing. Go hunting for bugs to donate to the museum, collect fossils to build huge dinosaur skeletons, catch fish to build the aquarium inside the museum, create your own outfits and clothes and much, much more.
Alloftheabove rates this game 9/10
+ Wii Speak and City adds to longevity
+ Cutesy visuals and funny characters
+ You can move your DS character over to the Wii
- It's very similar to the previous versions.
I may add more images if requested.