Animal Crossing: City Folk Review
Three years later, whats changed in Animal Crossing?
Put the term ‘bread and butter franchises’ with the name ‘Nintendo’ and anyone can raffle off plenty of franchises that sell like hot cakes purely because of the brand name. Animal Crossing didn’t become a million selling success until it hit the DS in 2005, and since then it has continued to sell incredibly worldwide. Now with a huge following and plenty of enthusiasm behind it, Nintendo has to prove that Animal Crossing has much more potential in the living room than in your pocket.
Animal Crossing: City Folk (or ‘Let’s Go to the city’ for PAL users) is Nintendo’s latest attempt at its not-so-real-life sim, throwing a simple human boy or girl to live in a town full of walking, talking animals. These animals make you the center of attention to sort out any of their problems and keep the town managed. It plays out just like the previous games: you find a house, make friends and pay off debt to Tom Nook. Don’t expect any surprises here, City Folk sticks way too close to the standard formula that the game’s been chugging out since day one. Of course, as the title suggests, there’s a city you can travel to, but it isn’t really the great selling point you'd think it is. The city is about 1/5 the size of your town and has only a few shops that are worth any your time. It’s a little disappointing to see no real effort put into the newest feature of this game, which definitely had plenty of potential. Once you’ve settled in, you're free to make or break friends, decorate your house and your town, explore the museum and basically collect all kinds of things. If you love collecting pointless bits and bobs, look no further, but others might feel a little dissatisfied with what City Folk has to offer.
The game adopts some features from the previous games: the scrolling world used in the DS game is here and can make things a little dizzy, especially on a big screen. The new control system works perfectly, allowing either Wiimote point-and-click style or plug the Nunchuck in for analog movement. Primary items like axe and shovel can also be switched using the d-pad, saving some wasted time navigating menus. There’s also a little bit of optional waggle, which at times can be a bit of a pain instead of a helpful option. Unfortunately, not a lot has changed and it’s very disappointing to see the series hasn’t really done anything in three years. The graphics look crisp on the Wii, but in all honesty these are Gamecube graphics with high res textures, nothing more, nothing less. The same can be said about the audio quality and detail; the songs once again are catchy but it’s all the same music recycled from previous games. I guess that's what really makes City Folk such a letdown: the majority of what you’re seeing, hearing and doing has been done before.
On the other hand, Animal Crossing fans will find something to love in the latest port: importing. If you’ve already invested months or years into the DS game, you can transfer parts of that save file to the Wii version. This allows you to avoid starting life as you know it all over again. Online features keep you coming around, but in terms of depth and gameplay, there’s only such much trading, bug catching and fishing you can do before you get bored. As a communication device for chatting with friends, though, it’s pretty sweet. Nintendo has included better chat options, including a USB Keyboard support and Wii Speak, a microphone that allows one room of players to talk to another. We didn’t get the chance to use Wii Speak in our review so we’ll have to update you later.