mistral's Oide yo Doubutsu no Mori (Nintendo DS) review

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Nintendo Releases The Same Game For The Third Time

Although Animal Crossing:Wild World is more different from the Gamecube version than the Gamecube version was from the Japan-only N64 version, they're still basically the same game. You move to a new town as the only human in a land full of animals, are put into mortgage slavery by Tom Nook without your consent, and spend the rest of your days paying off your mortgage, catching bugs and fish, talking to animals of one of six personalities, and filling out your item catalogue. This is fun for a while, but after a few weeks of doing the same things over and over you'll really need a break.

The biggest differences from the Gamecube version are:
-Some sort of world-scrolling camera view instead of the top-down view from the original. It's an odd camera, but it's not that hard to work with. My main complaint with the new camera is that there's still no way to rotate the camera outside your house. Surely that function wouldn't have been that hard to add?
-No NES games. Not a big loss for me since I didn't play them much in the Gamecube version, but I'm sure some peopel will miss them.
-You can now connect with friends over Wi-fi instead of having to swap memory cards. Much more convenient!
-Fewer holidays, and what holidays remain are much lamer. Yay day? Flower Fest? Yawn.
-Flowers have to be watered now! This is very annoying, even if it does come with the introduction of hybrid flowers and flowers that grow on their own once you've planted some parent flowers.
-All characters in a village share one house. The main house now gets a main floor, second floor, and three side rooms. I like the new bigger house, but if you play on the same village as someone else you may not like the shared living space very much.
-Villager errands are much more sporadic since there's no longer an option to flat-out ask them if they have anything for you to do. They will occasionally tell you they need you to deliver a letter or strongly hint that they want furniture of a specific theme, but errands are no longer the item-earning machines they once were
-Villagers still fit one of a mere six personalities, but each villager is relatively more fleshed out this time; there's more dialogue for each personality and the dialogue is somewhat more in-depth, and each villager has a "hobby" of their own, even though their hobbies don't have much impact on the game. You're still likely to get bored of the endless stream of interchangeable animals after a while, but that will take much longer than it did in the Gamecube version.

Other than that, most of the differences are in the vein of new villagers, more items, and of course features that integrate with the stylus. Pattern making and menu use are made much easier with the stylus, but moving and interacting with things on the overworld isn't quite as easy and there's a second or two of lag when you swtich from stylus control to button control.

Fishing, bug catching, and fossil collecting are as entertaining as ever, with fossils being even easier to work with as Blathers can now identify fossils on the spot instead of you having to mail them off to some distant museum. Fishing is still the fastest way to make money and foreign fruit trees the easiest.

The graphics are exactly the same as they were in the Gamecube and N64 versions. Okay, they have slightly better textures and whatnot, but aside from that they're all recycled from older Animal Crossings when possible. The graphics do have their own charm to them, but there's a point where the designers are just being lazy.

The music is mostly forgettable; KK Slider's songs are still catchy(even if many are, you guessed it, recycled from the GC version), but everything else is very low-key. This does fit the game's style, however, so I can't complain too much.

The gameplay itself is pretty fun for a while, but as I said earlier you'll get bored with it after a few weeks. You catch bugs, catch fish, dig up fossils, run errands for people, sell things to Nook to pay off your loans(plural. oh yes, you get forced into buying bigger houses and there is NOTHING you can do about it. Then again, there's no punishment for failing to pay off your debt other than not getting a bigger house...), have fun with the monthly Yay Day or fishing tournement, get new furniture for your house/catalog, and harvest fruit day after day after day, which is fun in a zen kind of way, but only for so long.

Now, considering that Animal Crossing is pretty much built for you to pick it up, catch bugs and harvest fruit and talk to villagers and whatnot for 10-30 minutes, then put down again, you'd think this would be the perfect game to play occassionally, whenever the mood strikes, right? BZZT! WRONG!

You see, one of Animal Crossing's biggest flaws is that you are punished for failing to play every single day. Skip one day, you'll see a couple weeds and a dead flower or two. Okay, I can handle it. Put the game down for a month and come back? Have fun dealing with the weeds that have completely overrun your town, the villagers who all comment on how you were gone for ever-so-long, all the dead flowers, and all the cockroaches in your house. Ignore the game for several months? You're looking at a good 45 minutes spent pulling weeds, or ignoring them and having everyone complain about them and possibly moving away because of them. And unlike in the Gamecube version, there is no Wisp that you can find late at night to pull all your weeds  for you. Nope, you are pulling each and every one of those weeds by hand. That's not even to mention the possibility that you missed one of the few fun holidays that you'll need to wait a year to see again(unless you time travel). Needless to say, the prospect of coming back to a town that will demand you put in lots of long, not-fun-at-all work the instant you step foot out of the house will make you wonder if you should ever bother going to your town again if you've ever skipped more than three weeks of play.

Overall, Wild World's a pretty fun game on its own, seems a little lazy when you consider how strikingly similar it is to every other Animal Crossing game, and manages to completely ruin what should be its strong point by punishing people who only want to play it for a few minutes every once in a while. Until you take that first three-week break, have fun! (unless you just loooove pulling weeds)

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