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Animal Crossing: Wild World

There’s a place where cruelty and malice know no limits. Depression, lust and greed run through its streets unimpeded. Its inhabitants are jaded, quietly accepting the folly of their existence in a pathetic attempt for emotional security. It haunts people as they continue to grow. It is the place where people must go to come to terms with their lives, tasting the bitter sting of reality in the process. In that place, it isn’t a matter of when or how you die, but how much you want to live. Individuals struggle to survive on a daily basis, and only the strongest, cunning, and skilled will come out the victor. In this harsh and uncaring place, one must use whatever he or she can to get through the day unscathed. Success is a road laden with traps and obstacles, and failure is for the weak. This place is called the real world, and it lies just beyond the borders of the innocence of childhood. You will have to visit this place at some point, and you’d better be ready.

In case you need a break from the stress and worries of your daily life, Animal Crossing: Wild World makes for a wonderful diversion. You aren’t some powerful superhero, masterful tactician or typical RPG adolescent. You’re nothing more than a weary traveler setting forth into the world as you come of age. After arriving in the town, you’ll come to the sad realization that you have no funds to sustain yourself. Tom Nook, the local store owner and master craftsman, has built you a meager shack of a house to shelter you from the elements. Like any other hardworking capitalist, he expects to be paid handsomely for his work. You’re facing a bill that costs several thousands of dollars in hard currency, stranded in a town with complete strangers. With nowhere else to go, you must figure out a way to pay off your debts and survive on your own.

Luckily for you, the realm of Animal Crossing: Wild World is laden with everything you need to become not only financially independent, but filthy rich as well. At first glance, the town looks boring, decorated with nothing but some houses, trees and a river. But when you take a closer look at your environment, you’ll find it filled to the brim with potential. Several of the trees will provide you with various fruits, each of them worth a certain price at the local shop. The river and the distant sea are filled with fish of all shapes and sizes, and the beach is littered with several shells. The plants and flowers attract a wide variety of bugs and insects, all of which can fetch for a hefty price. Last but not the least, your new neighbors will usually have some odd job for you to perform, usually rewarding you with some well-deserved cash. The trick is learning how to use all of these aspects in tandem, allowing you to amass a fortune of unparalleled proportions. It’s simply a matter of focusing on your overall goal.

Paying off your debts in Animal Crossing: Wild World is not a question of amount, but of time. The game makes use of the DS’s internal clock, keeping track of when and how long you play. Unlike other games, this game does not have an estimated completion time; existence in Animal Crossing does not stop. Every day can be played differently, each new dawn offering the potential for something new. Your neighbors will awaken and fall asleep at certain times, making you schedule your time if you want to build a relationship. Sales will only happen on certain days, offering excellent prices for all items. The surroundings and weather will change depending on the time of year, offering snow and rain in the winter and flourishing plants in the summer. The tides will change based on the hour. Certain animals will only appear at specific times and months. Should you be awake early enough, you can watch the sunrise, then watch the stars appears as dusk settles in the evening. If you return to the game after a long absence, you’ll find that your house is filled with roaches and the neighbors missed you dearly. It is truly a dynamic environment filled with the little details that you hardly ever notice your own life.

However, the changes in the town aren’t determined only by the time. This game allows for an unprecedented amount of customization and personal style. You’ll be able to create a town specifically designed for your preferences. Flowers can be planted almost anywhere, fruit trees and be grown and harvested, the theme song, flag and your clothes can be tweaked and revamped. Your house, which started off as nothing but a mere shack, will eventually be remodeled into a four-room estate. You can fill your house with countless pieces of furniture, rugs, wallpaper, and other trinkets. This game comes with hundreds of collectible items, the ideal challenge for the obsessive gamer. Nearly every aspect of this game is left up to your own discretion; the beauty of your town depends solely on your will to improve it.

Should you devote time to developing your town, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful, vibrant place to live. Your town is depicted in a wide variety of bright colors, catching your eye and drawing you in with each passing moment. Everything will gradually change as the day progresses, offering a wide variety of perspectives with the passing hours. The leaves slowly drift to the ground when you shake the trees, the fish look like pixilated replicas of their real-world counterparts, and the weather will change a few things as well. You can visit the exhibits at the museum, look at the aquarium, visit the lonely tavern, and walk along the beach at your leisure. Though your neighbors look like cartoon animals, they often display an assortment of emotions; you’ll have the opportunity to comfort them when they’re sad or avoid them when they’re angry. You can wander down the banks of the river, taking in the soft gurgling of the water and the chorus of the wild grasshoppers and cicadas. Though the background music is comprised of a few basic beats, it still makes you feel at ease. Such aspects make for the perfect place to sit back and relax after a long day.

Gamers that are familiar with the Gamecube version of Animal Crossing are well aware of these aspects. However, this latest installment adds a few new features to satisfy veteran gamers’ appetites. If you don’t feel like using the traditional Control Pad and buttons, the DS’s Touch Screen can be used for basic movement and menu browsing. However, this control scheme is a minor aspect when compared with this game’s true trump card: online multiplayer. The DS’s WiFi connection allows gamers from all over the world to visit different towns, find rare items, and enjoy the company of anyone who happens to be on your buddy list. Friends can move into each other’s town and share the burden of paying off debts, help out around the area, and play minigames. You’ll be able to get messages and downloads from the Nintendo staff, unlock certain features, and sent letters and gifts to your friends. This makes Animal Crossing: Wild World live up to its namesake, letting gamers experience an interactive world through their humble handhelds.

The success of Animal Crossing: Wild World is based on two reasons: Nintendo did not drastically change the game from its Gamecube predecessor, appealing to the legions of fans that devote their time to it. Secondly, the online multiplayer provides for limitless possibilities for handheld gaming, allowing its participants to access a miniature world where individual style and interactivity reign supreme. Animal Crossing: Wild World is not merely a handheld version of an excellent console game, but an improvement as well. If there is one defining game for a DS owner to have in their collection, it’s this game. Though the real world can’t be avoided, the world of Animal Crossing is far more appealing.

10 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2005.

Gentle persuasion

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