I finished out spending my birthday gift certificate this week. I had enough for one more game, and I was waiting until Wednesday for the release of Animal Crossing : Wild World. It is really hard to describe this game. In the game, you are a boy or a girl (you get to choose) who moves into a town full of animals. One of the animals, Tom Nook, has built you a house, but you are in debt to him for the mortgage on the home. You can do odd jobs and sell items at his store and to others in town to pay back your mortgage. There really aren't any true goals in the game though, and there isn't any "winning" of the game. Instead, you just visit your town and do things, like fishing, collecting seashells, digging up fossils, catching bugs, and keeping up on local gossip. You can send letters to your neighbors, and you might get something in return.
I had read online that this game was very, very popular and that it was very, very addicting. Now I know why. The game happens in real time, so if it is two o'clock in the afternoon in the real world, it is two o'clock in the game. The sun rises and sets just like real life, and stores open and close. In addition, it seems like something new happens each day, so you start to look forward to switching on the game every day to see what new things might be happening. I can't put it down! Yesterday I set up an appointment to meet with one of the in game characters at 3pm at my house. I switched on the game at 2:55, and sure enough, five minutes later that character was knocking on my door.
One last feature of the game is online connectivity. The Nintendo DS has built-in 802.11b wireless networking, so if you are near a wireless hotspot, you can connect to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service and play with other people. In Animal Crossing, once you have added friends to your friend list, you can invite them to visit your town, and you can also visit their town. Every town is different, so you may find items in their town that you haven't found in your own. I was pretty excited about this feature, but then I was disappointed when I found out you can only visit with people you have exchanged friend codes with. A friend code is a special number that uniquely identifies the combination of your game cartridge and Nintendo DS. By using Friend Codes, Nintendo created a way to verify that only people you know and trust can play with you in your online games. It's a good idea, as it guards against people who might prey on kids, and it also prevents you from getting your town trashed by some griefer (online-game term for poor sport). Unfortunately, since I'm an adult playing this game, I don't know any people who have it as well, let alone a Nintedo DS. It will be tough for me to find other people to play with without looking like some dirty old man. There are services online for exchanging friend codes, and I suppose I could use those, but I still wish that, like with Mario Kart, there were a special mode where I could play online without exchanging friend codes.
In sum, so far I think this is a pretty cool game. I'm totally addicted to switching it on and checking out the new stuff in my town. (Jenn warned me not to get fired over playing this game at work) If you have this game as well, and you would like to visit my town, just put a comment in this post and we'll have a visit!