Animal Crossing: Wild World

Animal Crossing: Wild World Review for DS

On: DS

Nintendo DS sequel to the 2003 Game Cube version of the animal life game.

Review Verdict Read Review
9Out of 10
Back to game info
Fossil hunting is just one of the ways you can spend your time
Fossil hunting is just one of the ways you can spend your time

Fossil hunting is just one of the ways you can spend your time

Whatever you've heard about Animal Crossing, before we start, I have to correct a misconception you may have about it. Animal Crossing isn't so much a game as a way of life. If you buy Animal Crossing expecting a game then you're going to get bored rather quickly and inevitably be disappointed. Instead, you should rather look at Animal Crossing as a life simulator, albeit a genteel one, where your biggest concerns are the well-being of your neighbours, whether you've over-watered your garden, and the Bell repayments on your extortionate mortgage from resident entrepreneur and loan shark, Tom Nook.

Whilst this might not sound exactly like a ringing endorsement, it's important to realise that unless you've played either the N64 or GameCube versions of Animal Crossing, you're unlikely to ever have encountered a 'game' like this before. When enthusiasm for the GameCube version was at fever pitch several years ago, I myself (who didn't have a GameCube at the time) threatened to summarily ban the next person who posted an Animal Crossing thread on the forum I was running, because the sheer volume of Animal Crossing loving going on was taking over the forum and annoying the hell out of me. Yet something inside me twigged that this was a title that I had to try out at some point. With Animal Crossing's arrival on DS, that time has finally come, and now, all those years later, I finally understand why everyone kept banging on about it.

It's difficult to know where to start describing Animal Crossing. To try sum it up in a nutshell, you could describe it as Disney meets The Sims, but that's not really quite right. Animal Crossing doesn't have quite as broad a scope in life simulation terms as The Sims, and the cartoonish aspect is more edgy than Disney. Yes, the NPCs are cute cartoon animals, but they're Japanese cute, not Western cute: the characters aren't all sweetness and light, they have adult character flaws, blind spots and a couple are even that little bit sinister. The girl player character models, for example, definitely have a bit of a Bride of Chucky look about them... At first glance, it would be easy to dismiss Animal Crossing as "utter tosh for kids", and indeed, that's about as much as our esteemed editor wanted me to write about it, (except without the "for kids" bit), but there's more to it than that.

The hook is that while there seemingly isn't that much to do, the game runs in real-time, linking in to the system clock of your DS, meaning that if you leave the game alone for a few weeks, by the time you come back, the flowers in your garden will have died, the sapling you planted before you left will have grown, and your neighbours will be annoyed with you because you haven't talked to them lately and didn't even send a letter to tell them that you were going away (and yes, if you call on your neighbours at 3am, you can expect a frosty reception!). Animal Crossing's the kind of game that you don't necessarily need to devote hours and hours at a time to, but because things in the game world change from day to day, it requires you to come back time and time again. It's sneaky like that. It's an insidiously addictive experience, and absolutely perfect for a handheld, because they're easily suited to snatching a few minutes of game play here and there.

'NPCs will move out of town if they're struggling to strike up a rapport with the elephant next door...'

So why keep coming back? It boils down to two things: the general ambience of the game and relationships. Rather than having you input the names of your character and the town into a menu, Animal Crossing instead starts with a taxi ride, where the driver asks you questions: your name, your birthday, the name of the town you are moving to, and so on. It's an imaginative introduction, and it gives you a taste of the eccentricity of the characters you will later meet. You only start out with a couple of neighbours, but as time passes, more and more people move into the town, giving you more people to talk to. It's also a two way street, as NPCs will move out of town if they're struggling to strike up a rapport with the elephant next door. Your neighbours will be randomly selected from over one hundred characters, so you can expect to wait a long time before you meet them all. Persistent characters common to all towns include Blathers, the museum curator, Pelly and Phyllis, the Post Office workers and the aforementioned Tom Nook, who owns the local shop.

As I alluded to earlier, Mr Nook is a bit of an unscrupulous money-lender, as he owns the house you move into, so therefore your first long-term aim in the game is to pay off your mortgage to him. No sooner have you done this, he'll expand your house (whether you want him to or not) and hit you with a mortgage six times bigger than the one you've just paid off (a whopping 120,000 Bells). This is to provide you with even more of a reason to keep coming back to play the game. It works too, because no-one wants to be indebted to a racoon, do they? And once that's paid off, yes, you guessed it; he does it to you again. And again, a total of six times, with a final mortgage of nearly one million bells; it's worse than living in Surrey... At least all the extensions to your living area allow you to surround yourself with some of the wonderfully esoteric decorative items available in the game. Ever fancied having a T-Rex skull or a billiards table in your living room? Here's your chance, and that's just for starters. Room decoration even forms a sub-plot, with the shadowy Happy Room Academy (surely an Orwellian organisation right up there alongside The Ministry of Peace) rating the Feng Shui layout of your home, and sending you prizes if they like it enough. Other day to day tasks include fishing, catching bugs, digging up fossils, creating constellations with the museum telescope and even laying traps outside the homes of ornery neighbours with pitfall seeds. It all sounds pretty harmless, and it is, in truth, but there's no small measure of satisfaction in digging up a new fossil, or catching a new type of insect or fish and donating it, to the twittering delight of Blathers. It's a simple game that provides simple pleasures, yet has so many hidden depths you'll be discovering new things for weeks: like how hitting rocks with your spade will sometimes spawn Bells, or how shaking the wrong tree will result in a horrifying bee attack that will leave you looking like you've gone twelve rounds with Mike Tyson.

You can customise the look of your avatar with hats, shirts and accessories such as glasses or scuba masks

You can customise the look of your avatar with hats, shirts and accessories such as glasses or scuba masks

However, as whimsical and enjoyable as all this is, it's not where the real fun lies. Perhaps more than any other title I've played, Animal Crossing is the most adept at making the player form attachments to the non-player characters. Amongst my current neighbours are the wannabe starlet Gabi, who's taken a bit of a shine to me because I kept sending her medicine and "get well soon" letters when she got ill; Dizzy, a lazy, fossil-loving elephant; Goose, who's a total fitness freak and shirt obsessive; and Angus, a Scottish cow (he macmoos rather than moos) with rather Machiavellian tendencies. As you play day after day, talking to them and revealing more about their characters, it's harder and harder to imagine life without them. Call me soppily sentimental if you will, but it's true. It's not just the ridiculously squeaky Animalese-speak or the cutesy animations when characters laugh, get sad, want to talk to you or are angry; it's the sensation that all the NPCs are actually individuals and the irreverence of the dialogue; it's the sensation that if you took these characters out of the game and put them into real life, you'd still want to spend time with them; and when you sit back and think about it, that's really quite staggering.

In terms of the actual playing mechanics, you can switch seamlessly between using the stylus and the touch screen to the D-pad to control your avatar and navigate the menus, both methods being equally intuitive and well thought out. A slight disappointment is a perfunctory utilisation of the top-screen. It's barely used at all, except for a mini-game where you can try and shoot objects out of the sky with a schoolboy's catapult and to show where you are whilst you're picking through your inventory or other menus. The real innovation in the DS version over its console predecessors is that you can exchange Friend codes with other owners of the title and invite them to your town via Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection Service, so that you can swap items, meet different NPC neighbours, and so on. It's a great touch that will probably entice previous Animal Crossing owners to acquire this version as well. For newcomers to Animal Crossing, the Wi-Fi support and the ability to take your town with you probably makes this the definitive version of the title.

It's almost impossible to write a review without descending into anecdote, because Animal Crossing is one of those titles that immediately lends itself to "a funny thing happened to me on the way to Nook 'n' Go..." style reveries, and I've tried to avoid it because that doesn't really tell anyone what it's actually like to play. In fact, that's probably an impossible task. As I stated at the beginning of the review, Animal Crossing is less of a game than a way of life; and life is something you have to experience for yourself, rather than have it described to you vicariously. So you're going to have to trust me and take a leap of faith when I say that Animal Crossing is one of the great videogame experiences; even if it's not truly a game. That may not sound like a ringing endorsement either, but once you play it, I think you'll find that it is...

New stuff to check out

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

hasna31's Avatar

hasna31

hey how do u get a friend code
Posted 10:52 on 21 October 2011
Miss_Vampette's Avatar

Miss_Vampette

I love this game truly addicted if anyone want's to swap friend codes for the ds version message me :D
Posted 22:21 on 19 August 2010
Caaitlyn's Avatar

Caaitlyn

Well, call me crazy.. but i have become attached to some of these fake animal neighbors, I know they aren't real and i feel silly.. but one of my neighbors (Tabby) said she was moving out and it made my heart drop.. she was one of my favorites.. and i checked back and see seems to have forgotten the entire 'moving' idea.. but im scared... are all my beloved neighbors going to 'move' eventualy? And if they do, what are the odds i'll get them back? I only joined this site to ask this question.. so if you want to answer me, you can IM me via MSN (catybug999@hotmail.com) or on chatango (BrutusTheBear) Anyway, answers would be greatly appriciated <3
Posted 00:57 on 16 May 2010
guria2009's Avatar

guria2009@ Jessie

hi what animal crossing you got and how did you got married email me on psiema@rocketmail.com
Posted 23:45 on 12 December 2009
guria2009's Avatar

guria2009@ emily may

hi can i have your friends code please email me on Psiema@rocketmail.com, and email me your address so i can send you my friend code
Posted 23:43 on 12 December 2009
middleschooler11638's Avatar

middleschooler11638

Is anybody on this site any more?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Im sooo confused!!! Why dont no one be on dis site any more?!?!?!?!?! Im looking for someone to help me... well i hav a question. I am super bored!!! I would LUV to chat with you about animal crossing! (aka my fav game) p.s. i had the game on game cube and loved it! Thats why all of my frnds got da game! I was a fan of da game looong ago!!! Im like the game fanatic!!!
Posted 02:48 on 04 August 2009
Deoxyslover's Avatar

Deoxyslover

I find the graphics to be kinda good for ds :D
but it isn't a very exciting game.
Posted 20:51 on 01 June 2009
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ PinkSmartii

Absolutely untrue. As are all the rumours that you can get married.
Posted 18:18 on 19 April 2009
PinkSmartii's Avatar

PinkSmartii

by the way, is it true if you get a golden shovel that you get a dog under one of your beds?
Posted 17:54 on 19 April 2009
PinkSmartii's Avatar

PinkSmartii

Im jst gunna say some money making tips for some who have their morgage still to pay, but you have to do these day after day:

1. Fish. If you catch as many fish as you can carry, then sell them to Tom Nook, that will get you a couple thousaund bells. (This will also help you come nearer to getting the golden Rod).

2. Bug catching. I do realise that in some seasons, bugs are hard to find but capture any you can find and sell them to Tom Nook. (This will help you come nearer to getting the golden Net).

3. Hit the rocks. With your Spade, go around your town, hitting all the rocks until money spurts out! keep on hitting that rock until the bells stop coming out. This only workes with one rock and changes everyday (can only use once a day).

4. Ground Stars. You get these stars in the ground which you can dig up to reveal things buried. First, run over the star to make sure its not a pitful seed (trap). If you fall in then it is, if you don't, it's something worth Value. Dig up everyone you can and sell it to Tom Nook. If it's a fossil, Get Blathers to check it first.

5.Shells. I go across my beachs picking up the shells and selling them. This gives you little money but at least it's something.

6. Sale! Once every month or more, check your rooms and cupboards and remove everything you don't won't or won't use. Sell that to Tom Nook.

7. Booker. Go to Booker and ask Something lost? Grab everything (even the pitfull seeds). Sell everthing but the pitfull seeds that you don't want. Then put the pitful seeds in the recycling because once the town folks reaslise someone eles has been recycling, it incorages them to put valuable things in wich you can sell or keep.

8. Help out. Go around your town talking to the town folks and doing things for them. They will reward you with bells or something you can sell or keep.

9. Bank account. Every day or week or month, add some money into your account. You will soon have more money in your account as years go on.

10.Fruits. Pick all your fruits in your town and sell them to Tom Nook. For more fruits, visit a friends town and take some of their fruits and plant them in your town so you can have that fruit. Take one of that fruit you planted in your town and plant it somewhere eles in your town so you get MORE fruits to sell. Repeat sevral times.



Hope that helps!!!
Posted 17:52 on 19 April 2009
bluecoconut45's Avatar

bluecoconut45

you can get married? i didin't know that was possible in an E rated game.
Posted 21:55 on 21 February 2009
lildevil4571's Avatar

lildevil4571

I want to marry Rodeo
please reply
Posted 18:02 on 18 February 2009
lildevil4571's Avatar

lildevil4571

really is that true you can get married and have a baby WOW tell me how to

xxx
Posted 13:39 on 18 February 2009
You can's Avatar
Delete Post

You can

acualy u can have a baby. all u have to do is set a timmer for 5 min then get in a double bed with a girl/boy then wait till the ttimmer stops then the next day da girl has a baby
Posted 03:54 on 31 January 2009
dfhdjsa's Avatar
Delete Post

dfhdjsa

i want animal crossing and i think it is fun but i want it for christmas how can you get it for 10 dollors
Posted 20:30 on 05 December 2008

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Animal Crossing: Wild World
9
Out of 10
Animal Crossing: Wild World
  • A very genteel and social experience
  • A lot more depth than appears at first glance
  • Quirky ambience and graphical style
  • Not really a 'game' by its strictest definition
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 31/03/2006
Platform: DS
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: RPG
No. Players: 1-4
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 477
View Full Site