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Oohh, baby baby, it's a wild world...

Cat Stevens didn't know the half of it. The inexplicably popular village-life simulator originally made for the Gamecube has returned with a new name and style! Actually the style is nearly identical, but there are so many new features that definitely make it the superior version. The cafe, three-way conversations, and simultaneous multiplayer gaming are among the more attractive additions that fans are raving about.

What little unimportant story there was in the old game has been transported to Wild World. Your character is starting a new life in a village populated by talking animals, and you must catch fish, pick fruit, and sell furniture to pay off your house while filling it with items you want to keep. With the Nintendo DS, many tasks have become easier due to the touch screen and the stylus. An alphabet display can be prodded to rapidly type out letters and messages. It's possible to play the game using the touch screen exclusively, but this is not necessary, so stylus haters can relax. Under the museum there is a cafe to listen to the genre-defying dog Totokeke, and above it an observatory where you can draw personalized constellations in the stars.

There is a reason why everybody who liked Animal Crossing will want this game. The WiFi capabilities of the Nintendo DS will allow you to play with up to three other characters in one village from anywhere in the world. If you are nowhere near a WiFi hotspot or have neglected to buy a USB cable for the DS, then there is still hope. Animal Crossing characters can travel between nearby DS systems (100 feet is the maximum distance) to a friend's town. When characters are interacting, either from across a room or a country, they can enter messages that are visible on the top screen to the other people. Now players can chat, trade items, and ideally make friends to visit whenever they are playing. Many people might get worried about psychopathic Animal Crossers who go from village to village with their axes, dropping garbage everywhere and felling trees without reason. These fears are unnecessary: offenders can be removed by the hosting player if they are deemed harmful. Arguably, the fact that you could interact with other villages in Animal Crossing for the GCN was the best feature, but it was a single-player experience, simply allowing one player to tour an empty town. With the DS, people can finally play together, like the game was intended to be played. Okay, so maybe Nintendo didn't intend for a small gang to sip coffee in the cafe and re-enact your favourite Friends episode, but you can do it if you want and that is what's important.

Character customization, you clamour for? What a novel idea! This area of the game has also been improved. Before, you could either wear existing clothes or create your own pattern. When your character wore a homemade pattern, the design is copied onto your hat as well, which was completely unremovable. Wild World allows you to collect or wear hats separate to the clothes you can buy, and include sombreros, fedoras, and pirate hats. There are moustaches, glasses, and hundreds of pre-made outfits to make you look unique while traveling to villages around the world.

Playing with yourself (snicker) is not as exciting, but is better than ever, thanks to improvements in the villagers. In the first game, the animals often looked like they were talking to each other, but you never knew what they were saying because all they did was nod and stare. Now you can join in with a conversation between two villagers, and when confronted individually they will talk about their neighbours behind their backs . If you aren't the social type, you can collect fossils, insects, and fish for your museum collections, all of which have been expanded. Tom Nook is still going to want your mortgage payments though, so making Bells (the currency) should be a priority. Now you must tend to the flowers you plant by watering them, which adds yet another daily errand that Animal Crossers mindlessly love to do.

As far as I can tell, without the multiplayer features, Wild World is only slightly superior to the Gamecube predecessor, making the difficult things easier (typing) and the dull things more fun (interacting with villagers). The online feature is what will make this game great, because otherwise you could play it on the GCN and have just as much fun.


Release Date: Dec. 5, 2005
Rating: Everyone
Developer: Nintendo

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