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Review: Animal Crossing: City Folk

Susan Arendt | 4 Dec 2008 15:00
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I have a neighbor, Antonio, who recently asked me to help him pick out some new clothes, because he was concerned that he wasn't as stylish as he perhaps should be. Wanting to be the helpful sort, I bought him something at the local boutique that I thought would suit him, and dropped by his house to give it to him. Not only did he not like it, he yelled at me and questioned my taste. I promptly wrote him a letter telling him that I hoped he moved away, then set a pitfall trap right out side his front door, hoping that he'd get the hint he was no longer welcome in my town. My Animal Crossing: City Folk town, that is.

City Folk for the Wii, the third installment in Nintendo's Animal Crossing series, is what The Sims would've been like if Will Wright had been less goal oriented and preferred adorable animals to people. Your new town is a cartoony and colorful place where the worst thing that's likely to happen to you is being stung by a bee or catching a tin can while fishing. It's a life sim set to Easy, with the cuteness sliders cranked up to Maximum.

The game begins when you move into town and buy your starter home, but how it proceeds from there is entirely up to you. There's no job to keep, no love interest to romance, and you don't have to worry about keeping your character happy, fed, or rested. Your first move will likely be to earn enough money to pay off your mortgage. You can't expand your house until you do, and it starts off so small that you can barely turn around in it, let alone find spots for all the nifty loot you're going to acquire. There are no real jobs to be had in the game, but there are plenty of ways to make money. Local merchant Tom Nook will buy practically anything you care to sell him, and there's plenty of good stuff just lying around. Collect shells from the beach, raid the town's recycling center for almost-new clothing or furniture, shake the fruit out of trees - it's all cash in your pocket.

For serious coin, your best bet is to try catching fish and insects around town - they're not particularly difficult to snare, and the more rare ones can be worth thousands of bells. If you're in a more generous frame of mind, you can also donate them to the town museum, which is completely empty when you arrive. Tracking down all of the fossils, paintings, fish, and insects needed to fill its displays will keep you busy all year 'round, but strolling through the exhibits they're up is an enjoyable way to appreciate your hard work.

If you're not that civic-minded, there's always your own little corner of town to perfect. Beautify your yard by planting a garden or some trees, or take your home improvement efforts inside by coordinating your wallpaper and carpet, collecting any of the hundreds of pieces of furniture, or designing your own clothing. New items can be bought in shops, be received as gifts from friendly neighbors, or even dug up out the ground. There's always something to be bought, sold, traded, mailed away, or ordered from a catalog; you can even visit the town's observatory to create your own custom constellations in the sky.

Animal Crossing devotees who sunk countless hours into Wild World on the DS will be happy to know that their labors were not in vain. After downloading the Moving Van to your DS - a quick procedure that takes mere moments - you'll find that everything you ever owned in the game is now available from the catalog in Tom Nook's shop. Well, almost everything. Special not-for-sale items like gyroids, fossils, and rare furniture won't carry over and neither will any money you had stored in the bank, but it still gives you a healthy leg up on decking out your new digs.

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