Animal Crossing City Folk
Review by Envy
(PLEASE NOTE: This review is meant to be an extended review and comparison to see how it stacks up to the former Animal Crossing games)
The original Animal Crossing came out several years ago. It was a very different game from what one would expect, but for me, it was an incredibly fun game. It had a charm that no other game ever had have to me, and I literally played it for hours on end. The game even allowed for friends/families to join the fun with you by getting their own home in your town. Eventually, Nintendo came out with a sequel to the game called Animal Crossing Wild World. Personally, I feel that Wild World lacked some of the charm that the original GameCube version had. However, on the other hand, Wild World added some great and useful features such as the ability to travel to other people's towns via the newly created Nintendo Wi-Fi. Of course, they could also come to your town as well. Plus, we finally had the freedom to choose our hairstyles, and could even buy hats and other accessories. Although, Wild World had at least one obvious flaw, and that was the lack of the holidays that matched the real world's holidays, like Halloween. Some other limitations in Wild World were excusable because it was on the handheld Nintendo DS. Now being on the next generation Nintendo console, the Nintendo Wii, Animal Crossing City Folk looked like a very promising sequel. It promised to be a perfect fusion of the positive features from Animal Crossing GCN and Animal Crossing Wild World while throwing in a slew of nice new features that you would have to expect from a sequel on a next generation console, but did it achieve that?
Well to cut to the chase and not keep you waiting, it did not. Now I will explain in detail exactly why Animal Crossing City Folk did not meet up to such expectations, which to be honest, were not asking too much. To put it simply, all that was wanted was the next generation console Animal Crossing sequel.
Of course, you probably know the way Animal Crossing works now. You move into a small town that is inhabited by cute little animals and start trying to make a living on your own. When you arrive at your town, you are met by a raccoon named Tom Nook, who lets you choose your new home. You don't have the money, so he lets you off for now and asks you to work for him at his store. As to be expected, this part time job is simply a tutorial to help you learn the way you play the game. It has not changed much since the original Animal Crossing on the GCN, which is fine; it really does not need to. Especially not when we're playing the same game a third time.
A big part of the fun in an Animal Crossing game is getting to know the villagers. Fortunately you'll get to have more animals in your town than in Wild World, so you'll get to know more animals. However, to cut to the chase again, the animals in City Folk are as dull as watching paint dry. You no longer have the option to ask them to talk to you that was present in both the GCN version and Wild World. You also don't have the option to ask for jobs that was present in the GCN version; a feature I was really hoping would come back. Unfortunately, you are left to hope that when you talk to them that they'll have something interesting to say, like maybe ask you to trade them items, or *gasp* maybe even ask you to run an errand.
Errands were a large part of the fun in the GCN version, but it seems like Nintendo didn't think so. You will still have animals ask you for errands of course, but since you can no longer ask them for errands exclusively, you can only hope that they'll immediately have an errand for you. It doesn't work that way, though. Instead you'll be talking to the animal several times in a row for one. What makes matters worse is that the animals will get angry at you for talking to them so much. That was alright in the GCN version, because really you had no reason to pester them so much. Another huge flaw is that the animals repeat themselves more than ever. So if you somehow do not make them angry, you yourself will be angry at them for repeating themselves a thousand times in a row. If you do make it to them asking you for an errand, you are very lucky. Unfortunately, even the errands are more annoying than they were in the GCN version. No longer do you always end up with tasks to take an item to another animal, instead you get asked for entire themes of furniture. Animals will get stuck on those themes forever, and you're just completely out of luck if it's early on in the game. Sure enough, an animal probably will ask you for an entire theme of furniture on the first day you play. However, since they are stuck on those themes for a good amount of time, you might actually have a chance, but not usually so early on in the game.
The likelihood of somebody actually wanting to talk to the animals after they've played this game for a good amount of time is quite low, if you can't already see that. Well, fortunately (with all things considered, that is) Nintendo completely removed the animal picture feature that was in Wild World. It was a nice feature where after talking to animal and being nice to them for so long, they'd give you a picture with a saying about them that you could keep in your house forever, because sometimes animals move and you miss them. The feature is suspiciously absent from City Folk. My only train of thought as to why, is because maybe Nintendo realized that everybody will get bored with the animals. It's sad, but true.
So how about that city – the "great" and "new" feature that Nintendo advertised a lot for this game? The instant you arrive in the city you will realize that is a very small little hub, and the majority of service animals you'll see there will be animals that in previous games visited your town. The only new ones will be a skunk, a beaver (?) that gives you balloons, and a porcupine that sells expensive furniture. The skunk will paint your shoes for you. While that's a nice little feature, it could have been expanded upon greatly, but I won't fail to give Nintendo credit for that small addition, as tiny as it may have been. The other new animals are simply as I say. Otherwise the city is full of former visitors, and while that may seem to be a blessing at first, eventually you will realize that it really takes the replay value out of the game. You don't have to wait for Crazy Redd to sell you blackmarket items, nor will you have to wait for Dr. Shrunk. Instead they are always there. You will grow bored of them pretty fast, especially considering the fact that Dr. Shrunk still can't let you have more than a few emotions at once. This is pretty absurd in a game on the Nintendo Wii, which obviously did not take up the entire disk space.
Once you're bored with the huge gimmick that Nintendo put out to try to make this game look like it was something more than a poor rehash, you will face the disappointing reality of every day Animal Crossing City Folk gameplay.
The first thing you might notice is that the soundtrack has not changed at all from Wild World. The songs might be slightly remixed, but the only new songs are those used in the city. This is just one huge example of Nintendo being lazy. They had a full soundtrack for the original on the GCN, and they had one created for Wild World. So why couldn't they create one for the big Wii sequel? Most people who have played since the original Animal Crossing will also agree that the GCN soundtrack was the best. So why in the world would Nintendo have not at least given us the option to use the GCN soundtrack if they weren't going to work hard and make a new soundtrack?
That could be excused, I suppose, if there was enough difference in the game otherwise, but really there isn't. The promised perfect combination of Animal Crossing on the GCN and Animal Crossing Wild World is rather lacking.
The most notable features that were brought back from the GCN version were the holidays and the ability to have four houses. Those two features of course, were not brought back without their flaws either. I do like that they brought back some holidays from Wild World as well, like the flea market. It was the best holiday added in Wild World if you ask me, but a lot of the real life holidays in City Folk just don't match up to their GCN counterparts. I tried to play the Halloween event this year, but I just really couldn't get through it. However, that is more of an opinion, so I'll leave that to the reader to decide how they compare. Having four houses again, though? Seems really great, but unfortunately, as a price you no longer have the nice "mansion" from Wild World, instead the maximum house size is returned to the GCN version's. So yeah, we actually downgraded
here. People like to argue here that the GCN version house size is acceptable because in Wild World we only had one house and it the large size was to accommodate four players sharing the house. However, I (and likely many others) played Wild World by myself. I did not have to share that house with anybody, so I got really used to that large house size. To see the house size actually decrease on the Wii, from the house size on the DS is absolutely unacceptable. Really I just can't understand what Nintendo was thinking here. There is no excuse.
The holidays from AC:GC have returned, but a little different of course.
Otherwise, only minutely small features were brought back from the GCN version. Many little differences were completely ignored, like the bushes, train, the dump being a separate structure, having visiting animals come in tents, sign boards, the balls that could have made for some fun multiplayer activities, and many other little things. In addition and as I pointed above, they even removed some of the few Wild World features that actually upped the charm of the series. Most notably the animal pictures and the house size, but other things were removed as well. Perfect fusion? Don't even make me laugh!
What did Animal Crossing City Folk add by itself, though? Obviously you have the unimpressive "city", which I already went over.
However, I do have to say that the game did add some nice little features, though none of them are revolutionary by any means. One is the auction house. You can put up items to auction to other players. The feature could have been something special, but unfortunately it is only between you and your friends that you've given friend codes to. So really, there's no point in it. It would have been so neat to see it expanded to country wide or world wide, but sadly not.
Another feature that could have been really nice is the expanded customization of shirts at the Able Sister's place. You can now customize the sleeves, and even have a different front and back. What holds the feature back from being so great, you ask? You have to use the Wii Remote to do designs now, you have no choice otherwise. This makes designing patterns a huge pain in the rear. If you can get by that, good for you, but they really should have allowed usage of the GCN controller, or perhaps even transferring patterns over from Wild World.
Two smaller kind of interrelated features that I really can't say anything bad about are the ability to take pictures of yourself (in the game, of course!) and send them to your computer through either email or an SD card. You can only hold one picture ingame at a time, though. That shouldn't be too much of a problem, though. It's just a nice feature to be able to upload pictures from your game onto the internet! With that, you can also send messages through the post office to other friends' towns. (If you have their friend code, of course.)
The great new snapshot feature allows you to take pictures ingame and upload them onto the internet. The above is one from my game.
I must say that the graphics are nice in the game. I know a lot will complain about the simplicity of them, but I just don't think it would be Animal Crossing otherwise. The graphics are a lot smoother than in the DS version, and even a bit better than the GCN version. But really, you just couldn't expect anything else.
One little problem is that the grass now wears away. That's not necessarily a graphical issue, but it had to be mentioned somewhere. The pathway feature, as it's called by some, is a love it or hate it feature. I originally loved how City Folk featured a more grassy look to it like the GCN version. Wild World had more dirt and that just made the towns less visually appealing. Playing a lot with cause the grass to wear away and make little "pathways". Unfortunately the feature is not perfect and ends up wearing away a lot of the grass, especially for those us who don't run in any set path. Having had the game for over a year now, and playing it from November to December of last year, I saw the grass wear away quite a bit. I haven't played it much at all since, and unfortunately the grass still hasn't grown back. I heard people say it would, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Animal Crossing City Folk just screams "wasted potential". When I say wasted potential, I mean there was a ton that could have been added to this game without ruining the overall Animal Crossing atmosphere. One of those features being a revamped outdoor furniture system. Doubutsu no Mori e+, a Japan-exclusive "sequel" to our original Animal Crossing, started the feature of outdoor furniture. It was limited, but it was better than anything we've seen in America. If Nintendo could have taken that feature and made it less limited, it could have made Animal Crossing City Folk something special, but unfortunately the feature is completely absent from City Folk.
As are any other revolutionary features that you'd expect in a next generation sequel. Instead you're left with a game that is all too similar to Wild World. If anything City Folk is actually worse
than Wild World. It tried to mesh Animal Crossing GCN and Animal Crossing Wild World, but as I pointed out, it did it very poorly. Not all of it is laziness; some of it just flat out doesn't make any sense. Don't get me wrong, though. This game is a prime
example of laziness.
With that said, it's obvious that there isn't much replayability here, at least not if you've played a past Animal Crossing game. The game lasted me a few months, which may seem like a long time, but an Animal Crossing game is supposed to keep you satisfied for a year or so. Animal Crossing City Folk has failed to do that for me, and I have always been a huge Animal Crossing fan since the original came out.
If you haven't played an older Animal Crossing game there is a chance you might not see this game the same way I do, and that is fine. Although I think that the GCN version is superior in nearly every way, it's been kind of outdated, lacking Wi-Fi and accessories/hairstyles. So if you're looking into the series Animal Crossing City Folk is an alright place to start, just don't expect too much from it. Rent it first.
For veteran Animal Crossers, stay away from this game.
Do not even spend a cent on it. It is not worth your time and money. Just hope that Nintendo works just a little bit harder on the next Animal Crossing.
(As a sequel: 4.0/10.0
By itself: 7.5/10.0)