An great game by all means... there's just hardly anything new.
+ very bright, fun atmosphere
+ towns are big
+ graphics and frame rate are incredibly smooth
+ superb Wii controls that don’t overdo themselves
+ unique, quirky sense of humor
+ relaxing, fun music
- the game is hardly even an update to Wild World
- Nook’s store takes way too long to expand
- the city is small and lacking anything that’s actually worth your time
Animal Crossing: Wild World on the DS was a huge hit because it managed to be so and big and fun on such a small console. Three years down the road, we now have a third entry in the series that’s a great game by all means… there are just so few differences between it and its predecessors that it feels like a quick cash-in by Nintendo.
City Folk starts the same as the other games, but this time you’re coming in by bus rather than train or cab. You name your town, answer a few questions, are introduced to a bit of the game’s shining, brilliant sense of personality and humor, and then you’re off. You start by working for Tom Nook, the raccoon owner of Nook’s Cranny, to pay off a bit of your mortgage on your new house, but once you finish a few jobs you’re on your own to do whatever you want.
Animal Crossing’s towns have always been big, but this game somehow feels bigger than before. As far as activities you have fruit growing that you can sell to Nook for money, go fishing or catch bugs, participate in the fun little activities that go on around town, and more. The gameplay mechanics involved are incredibly simple but it still manage to be pretty enjoyable.
One of the things that gives Animal Crossing such a huge appeal is its unique, charming personality and sense of humor. Talking to neighbors, which could be an extremely boring pastime, is spiced up with bits of quirky humor. Blathers (the museum owner) always makes a reference to how he’s the only worker there and how there’s nothing in the museum’s collection. Lyle, while annoying to talk to as he takes up a lot of your time, is actually pretty witty and funny. Every turn of a corner in City Folk will reveal yet another aspect of its fun personality and sense of humor.
City Folk also has some nice music tracks. Whether you’re just walking around town or cruising through the city, the tunes are nice, relaxing, and very fitting to the environment. The sound effects are also pretty decent, retaining the game’s feel and not getting in the way. The only problem with the area of sound is that everything, including the music, is recycled from Wild World (except the music that plays in the city of course). This is kind of disappointing but I don’t know how much I wanted it to be all new in the first place.
If you’ve ever played an Animal Crossing game before, you’ll probably have noticed by now that all this great stuff is exactly the same as it was back on the DS. Well, if you had that thought you are unfortunately quite correct. Despite being a great, solid game, City Folk features hardly anything new to the franchise. It’s still fun, it’s still packed with charm, but it’s all exactly the same as we’ve seen before. So now I’ll move on to the few things that are different about this game.
Being a game on the Wii, new controls were a must. Thankfully Nintendo fully delivered here with some excellent, smooth, and convenient control schemes. You can use either the remote alone or with a nunchuk, but both control modes work very well. The nunchuk is basically for those who want to move with a control stick rather than by pointing your way on the screen, but even that feels surprisingly smooth and works very naturally. Pointing at an icon on the bottom of the screen, which is quick and convenient, can access any section of the game’s menu. The best part about the new controls, though, is using the remote’s control pad to equip items, which saves those precious few seconds every so often that previous games in the series wasted. There is also the option to swing the remote for fishing and catching bugs, which is pretty neat.
The main difference in the game overall is probably the option to go to the city. Once you’re finished working for Nook you can hitch a ride on the bus any time to head off to the city. When you arrive, the first thing you will probably notice is just how small it is. There is simply one main courtyard with about five buildings to go into, none of which feature anything incredibly interesting. Almost all the shops and attractions feature characters from Wild World that only came around occasionally, but now you can see them any time you want. There is also an auction house, which is really the only worthwhile diversion in the city. Unfortunately bidding is only open here every once in a while.
City Folk also features some decent, simple, and smooth graphics. The character models, while revealing little detail, are very smooth and lively. The colors used on the environments are pretty vibrant and make it look nice. The great graphics are complemented by an ever-consistent frame rate that never falters and almost makes the DS game feel choppy in comparison.
Those three differences aside, you basically have a Wii version of Wild World. But despite the fact that there is so little change, it’s still a great game in itself. If you’ve already played an Animal Crossing game you’re better off leaving this one alone, but if you’ve never played a game in the series before then this is the perfect place to start because it’s truly the best Animal Crossing yet; the lack of change just earns it a lower score than its predecessors.
FINAL SCORE: 8.0/10