Talking to the hardcore gamers here, mostly.
Review written by
February 21st, 2009
The Animal Crossing franchise was just one of many Nintendo IPs that started off on the right foot. However, sadly, this is one of very few that are slowly going downhill. Does this new installment make up for Nintendo's obvious absence throughout the second half of 2008? Or does it fall under the now oh-so-common category of "Casual gaming"? Can casual Wii players really corrupt such a popular series? Let's find out.
Getting off the bus, you find that not much is new. By the time you're in town, you've probably noticed the frame rate is back up to 60 FPS, cliffs are back, trees and flowers behold three dimensions now. This is all quite nice and you start to appreciate the small but noticeable graphical upgrades. You also realize a couple of neat differences, such as the player houses being in very separate places, the fact that there actually ARE four separate houses, and the size of the town itself is kicked up a notch from AC's DS predecessor.
There is none. Besides the introduction of working for Tom Nook for about fifteen minutes before being booted for doing such a good job, there's no specific objective. Not that anyone was expecting there to be, but some sort of motivation to keep playing sure would've helped quite a bit.
If anyone could make everyday household chores fun, it'd be Nintendo. Organize furniture. Go fishing. Deliver stuff for your fluffy friends. Whatever you do, it's likely you'll enjoy it. Playing it is really nice for a while, but just like in the real world, chores can only be fun for so long.
Of course there's the brand new city that's accessible 24/7, but most of the stuff it has to offer was available in the last game such as Crazy Redd, Katrina, Shampoodle, and Dr. Shrink (none of which have much new to offer), but now you can access it all frequently instead of having to wait another month for them all to visit your town. Gracie's store is almost pointless unless you have the determination to get even one piece of her mercilessly overpriced furniture. The auction house hosted by Lloyd is a bust; players are already more than capable of trading furniture themselves. The shoe shiner is nice but you probably won't want to change your shoe color very often. Resetti's place is more a source of curiosity than anything else, but is still neat when you discover it for the first time.
But enough about the city; your real town is still where the best of the game is at. Right? There are a few new additions to the numerous fish and bugs you can catch, such as manta rays and the napoleonfish. The Wii motion controls are a pleasant addition, but you CAN still press the A or B buttons to use most of your equipment. However, in one section of the game, the Wii's capabilities are just a pure hassle: the Able Sisters. It's great that you're able to have four different designs on one shirt, placing them all in different sections, but it's wasted when you realize how damn hard it is to make a design using the remote. It's plain frustrating, knowing that the DS version had more going for it in this respect.
One of the good things about simulation games is that they never end. Now that either gives you reason to play it nonstop, or reason to never pick it up at all. This is really either a hit or miss situation.
First, let's assume you're a hardcore gamer like myself and you've been loyal to Animal Crossing since day one. You're probably going to notice that there isn't much new here; why should you buy this game? Other than a few tweaks, there's little different here from the past games.
Now let's say you're still a hardcore gamer, but this is your first Animal Crossing experience. Chances are, you're going to enjoy it quite a bit more than those who got the Gamecube and DS versions hoping for something spectacular.
If you're a casual gamer I don't really even know how you found this site, but congrats. You may just fall in love with Animal Crossing: City Folk. Hell, you just might be one of those people who uses their Wi-Fi multiplayer too, I dunno, watch fireworks with their pals. And you also might just be a middle-aged woman with a ridiculously nice apartment and perfectly straight, white teeth.
There is a lot to do in your town to keep you going, but is everything available going to be your type of thing to do? Probably not.
In fairness we didn't expect too much in this department, did we? Come on. Yes, the Gamecube version was originally for the Nintendo 64. Yes, the DS version is an absolute powerhouse. No, we didn't think the Wii version would pull off the same feat. So I understand why they wouldn't waste too much time with graphics. There are, honestly, many vibrant colors that boost up the overall design of the game. As I said before, trees and flowers are 3D. However, the water effects are absolutely abysmal for a 7th generation game, even by Wii's standards. Cinematic sequences during the game's credits have stepped up a notch. But a very small one. Never forget though, graphics should never determine your enjoyment of a game.
This is an area that has actually been notably improved upon. The sound effects are fun and friendly, the language of Animalese stays as fluent and cute as ever, and themes played throughout the day actually don't make you want to turn the volume off. Tracks written by the one and only K. K. Slider are slick, fantastic tunes. Most of them are very memorable and you'll find yourself humming along with them. You may not like it when Tom Nook talks, but that's just because he talks even more than you do through the game. And because Tom Nook is a loser. The city theme fits in well with the spirit of the area, as well as the shops you find yourself lingering in.
I believe that Nintendo could have invested much, MUCH more time, effort and money into the game. But I also understand why they wouldn't do so. Whether or not they did, they'd still achieve the same amount of sales (or something close to it) regardless of how good it actually was. Animal Crossing hasn't ever been a hardcore experience as such, so I didn't think they'd be able to dumb it down at all. I'm sad to find I was wrong. Don't misunderstand; Animal Crossing: City Folk is worth your time IF you're willing to spend it. There's still so much to do and see, and it really is a fun game. It's just that it's BEEN this fun game since 2001. It actually is like a mix of the Gamecube and DS games, which sounds good at first. But after you think about it, you realize "Where's the new, Wii part of this game?". I believe that Nintendo is in need of a reboot.
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