Tuesday, December 6, 2011

#0033: Animal Crossing: Wild World

It's an exciting time of year for owners of the Nintendo 3DS! Super Mario 3D Land has hit the scene, injecting new life into the fairly dormant handheld. Mario Kart 7 is now arriving on shelves as well, plus an update that includes the capability to shoot 3D video, as well as new puzzle pieces to collect, and new dungeons in the StreetPass Quest minigame.

Looming on the horizon is the upcoming fourth installment of Nintendo's Animal Crossing franchise. Once that has made it's way into our little blue/black/red/pink/Zelda gizmo, the second title on the original DS will surely be rendered obsolete.

Because part of the excitement of it was being able to take all of our animal compadres out on the road with us, shunning contact with inferior, actual, non-animal interaction. Actually, it's funny, now that I think of it; when video games came out, our pets were the first ones to suffer a lack of attention, and now Nintendo has games like Animal Crossing and, even more cheeky, Nintendogs (a dog simulator) to further divert our care from our pets. Dogs are like 'play with me, please!'. Cats are like 'yeah, whatever. I never liked you to begin with', before randomly attacking your foot. They do that, you know.

But back to the original point. Animal Crossing: Wild World hasn't seen much playtime as of late. Be it due to the original Animal Crossing being better, or the Wii version being newer, WW is the awkward middle child of the AC family, and it's value will fall quickly when it's little 3D brother is born. So, like any good parent, I shall now sell Wild World to the highest bidder. Hopefully Liam Neeson won't come to kill me.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Animal Crossing franchise (though really, I'm sure you all are), it's basically a 'life simulator' where you, the only human resident in a small village of animals, spend your days and nights however you choose. You can go fishing, buy and sell stuff, interact with other villagers, whatever you feel like. And though you're supposed to be paying off your home loan, there's no time limit and no penalty for being a lazy buffoon. Tom Nook wanted me to work hard and pay off my debt, I wanted to dig a hole in front of Freckles' front door so she couldn't get in and had to sleep outside. Which was also very important.

Because of the lack of an 'end', the game could theoretically be played forever, even years after you've paid off the money, gotten the biggest house and a gold statue erected in your honor, and exhausted every possible conversation with the townspeople, having delivered 50 couches, and returned 890 handkerchieves.

So what did Wild World do to separate itself from it's GameCube predecessor?

You see, a large part of the appeal was it's very portable nature, so it didn't stray the course too wildly (which is mildly ironic). It introduced portraits you could obtain after having gained the animals' trust (or as I like to call it, my 'snuff wall'), new haircuts and hats to wear, and a few other knick-knacks that I've since forgotten.

The original AC had limited interactivity capabilities with other players. Four people could live in your village (never playing at the same time), and, by swapping data from memory cards, you could visit other people's towns. With the DS' introduction of the beloved friend codes (sarcasm), WW broadened the spectrum of traveling, allowing you to visit towns from all across the world. Relish in the snowy towns of Ontario! Elbow your way through the bustling burgs of the Kantō plain! Smuggle some drugs into Bali, and end up in animal prison for 20 years!

...No, none of those things happen. I just liked to visit the police station in the first AC and pretend I was in trouble with the fuzz, running about in frantic circles as the police dog chased me around, who in actuality was more interested in the contents of the lost and found. These were the things I did instead of paying off my debt.

The problem for me, you see, is that none of my friends had a DS, and I hesitated in inviting randoms into my precious town. Partly for fear that they'd chop down all my trees, harvest all of my town's apples, and let Freckles back into her house. And partly, I'm ashamed to admit, because as a joke I taught a koala to call me 'sexy', and it unfortunately caught on to the point where everyone calls me that. That would be terribly awkward, methinks. Finally, and this is the biggest nail in the community coffin, the town is named Calicove, after promising Titans wide receiver of '04, Tyrone Calico. The dude ended up doing nothing other than having a mad as name. Can't spread that embarrassing notion around the world, sexy.

So, as a final send-off, I thought I'd visit my holiday home in Calicove one last time before packing up and heading onto greener pastures.

I exit the front door after roughly five years of slumber, and groggily pull out my shovel. I don't know why. My pockets are full, but I doubt I could fit a shovel in there, anyway. Usually when someone wakes up and produces a shovel in a disheveled fashion, they next find a body to bury. I'd best get on that before a sheep tries to do my dirty work.

There are weeds all around town, and not a soul in sight. Mildly akin to some sort of zombie apocalypse, why didn't anyone else bother to pull the weeds while I was gone? I was already the town's whore, I didn't need to be the town gardener as well.

Finally, I come across Jeremiah, the local drunk who lives in a shack by the beach. In barely comprehensible terms, he refers to me as pizzaface, Valjean and 'the alchemist', before discussing cheesecake. Right. Good to see nothing's changed there.

All of the animals seem mildly alarmed to see me at first, but are quickly over my multi-year absence, and instead engage in gossip about who's hooking up with who, whether I was raised on a farm, and which shirt they should buy. Christ, animals are vapid conversationalists, aren't they? It's like I'm in a furry Jersey Shore.

I return to the safety of my house for a chance to collect my thoughts, and to my dismay, it's full of cockroaches, and I'm fairly certain there's some furniture missing. Call me paranoid, but I'm most suspicious of Jay, who alternates between bragging about his sweet new TV, and packing up the last of his boxes as he prepares to skip town.

Forget this. My town is full of alcoholic frogs, aggressive cows and thieving birds. So I left Calicove in the dust, ready for a fresh start. Soon after my departure, tragically, the entire town was destroyed, residents and all.

This guy right here is the culprit. He's a dangerous mofo, apparently with a history in demolition. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Static, contact Crime Stoppers now. Do not approach him yourself, he is considered armed and dangerous! ...And possibly electric!

He single-handedly wipes out entire towns, what chance does your ass stand?

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