I’ve been excited about a brand new version of Animal Crossing for a real console for a very long. Ever since I had my hands on the original gamecube version years ago. After all, my mind thought, this is essentially an N64 game with a few additional house items and features, I wonder what a gamecube version would look like? Now we sit with a Wii version on our doorstep, after a DS version completely eclipsed the original. Did Nintendo live up to what could have been with a full Wii version of the game?
The main new feature of City Folk is its namesake: The City. The idea of the city I think was actually a really good one. Here we get to leave the village and get a change of scenary from time to time. What’s more, many of the characters that had become popular in the previous two games really deserved more face-time and we finally get that with the city. In particular Redd, Katrina, Gracie, and Shrunk all get their own “stores” to allow you to visit them and purchase their items whenever you like. The hair stylist, always had her own shop in the larger of Nook’s store, and it made sense to move her up to the city as well. The auction house was a nice addition that really brought a return of that feature from the original game, though I much prefer the original version better.
The main new things here in the city is the Happy Room Academy, which was in the previous versions but now has a face to it and it is Lyle the Insurance guy from Wild World. The other new thing is a shoe shiner which allows you to change shoe styles and colors which is very cool. Another sort of new place in the city is Resetti’s Survellance Center which I haven’t gotten into yet but am glad to see they finally found a way to get this guy back into the game since he hasn’t had purpose now that saves aren’t as difficult to make. Overall, not great, not bad. To me the best part of the city is the ability to see and talk to animals that don’t live in your town as 2-4 random characters are constantly roaming the square which is great.
The rest of the game really saw very few new additions to it from the other two games which has drawn quite a bit of criticism from just about everyone. The game is essentially a retooled version of Wild World, with the City added in. Everything you’ve seen before you’ll see again. Same fruit, same activities, same flowers, similar museum (observatory included thankfully), same nook (sadly even the same initial quest that has always been there), nearly same everything.
This isn’t to say that being very similar to Wild World was necessarily a bad thing. The GameCube version was, in my opinion, very raw. WW refined it very well, clearing out the layout, the interface, and taking out a lot of the junk that didn’t work and replacing it with stuff that did. We ended up with a very good version of the game, but the game really needed to be on a console to shine. Stuff was taken out of the game on the DS like holidays. Just compare December and you see that DS was missing both Christmas and New Years, both of which are back in the game for CF. Also instead of sharing a house like you have to in WW, everyone gets their own house again in CF.
There are some new things in City Folk as well as returning GameCube features. For instance, not only do you get your own house again, but no longer is the house stapled to the other 3 houses, they all appear randomly throughout the map and you can pick where you want your house. I chose to be by the beach. Also, in addition to having the fountain and lighthouse back in the game, you can also choose to have a windmill instead of the lighthouse. There are even new events to be found in the game such as November’s new month-long event of Mushroom season which allows you to hunt for mushrooms, some of which are worth a lot, and some turn out to be furniture sets. Silver tools have been added into the game. A sort of happy medium between the gold and plain. They are often far more useful to you, but aren’t nearly as difficult to get as the gold ones are. I’m sure there are several other new features that I either have forgot or just have no time for. The point is that while yes Wild World had more on the surface, I feel that City Folk refined even further what WW had already succeeded with.
That being said, I do have my disappointments. The housing, while gladly you get your own house again, is small overall. It seems smaller than even on the gamecube which is kind of sad. The house on WW was great, had many small rooms to explore which I loved. I also wish there were more fruit types or something, maybe apricot trees and banana trees or something. The 5 current fruits are getting a bit stale. While I didn’t need a really big improvement in size, I do wish they had added about 1 row and 1 column into the game, it is getting crowded with the increased amount of housing on your map. Also I loved Lyle as the shady Insurance Agent, and loved the Insurance in WW as well and am sad to see it out. I wish they would have created an entirely new character for the Happy Room Academy and left Lyle’s role as Insurance Agent in. I wish they had added other new characters in the city too, why not seperate out the bank entirely and have the atm in the village? Why not have another new little restaurant to go to in the city?
Lastly, the motion controls. Reports were that they were not good. Those reports are true. I tend to find use for sending out the fishing line, but bringing it in or using it for the net has been very inefficient at best and annoying at worse. Using buttons is much better. I do like having the pointer to control the character and the menus though and actually think that in this respect it works much better than the stylus did on the DS.
It is still a great game to have. More and more I’m wanting to rid myself of gamecube controllers, and thus the games that go with them. This game is surely a huge improvement over the original gamecube version and definitely worth having. The WiFi is much improved over the DS and the graphics really are quite a bit better as well (I think most of the disappointment here stems from hopes for huge improvements which it is not but they still are much better). While Nintendo could have certainly put more effort into Animal Crossing: City Folk, and maybe should have, it is still a very worthy game to get.
*Sidenote* I did not get the WiiSpeak with the game as I didn’t really feel it was worthy of $20 extra bucks for this game as I got the game on sale for $10 off and the WiiSpeak bundle wasn’t on sale. I don’t particularly want WiiSpeak with Animal Crossing, though I do think it would be nice for other games. The problem is I don’t feel like talking to the demographic that is going to be playing this game. I do however wish I had a keyboard.