Animal Crossing: Let's Go to the City (Wii) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 08.12.2008

Review for Animal Crossing: Let

The adorable animals of Nintendo's virtual world return to the living room, bringing laughter, sadness, anger and a multitude of different friendships and rivalries along the way. The series has been a hit with fans since debuting on the Nintendo 64 and being upgraded for the GameCube, then making a new legion by offering portable play on the DS in 2005. With the Wii set firmly in place to be the console for family games, it makes a lot of sense to bring Animal Crossing back; but has it been worth the three year wait?

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, it's like moving into a new town in real life. You're a smiling bloke or cheeky lass and you've decided to live in a new place of which you choose the name. We tapped in the highly appropriate "Penisland". Less giggly suggestions welcome! To avoid sleeping under the town bridge and starving to death you'll need money, and you won't find it by beating up enemies or mugging the town drunk. You'll need a job, and with it comes a cosy two-storey home and by working you'll make friends, new animals move in, best friends move out and life goes on.

We start the game not as a city slicker, but by visiting familiar ground. We have no back-story and reason to be moving to new pastures. On the bus journey in a wide-eyed cat greets you by mumbling some of the game's random speak, asking the same questions from previous games: "Are you a Boy?", "When is your birthday?", "Do you have accommodation?" and so on. Each of these decides what you'll look like, and how the character interacts with others. Chose an answer and suddenly one might make enemies with some residents, and another making you best friends - and much like real life, it's who you are that defines who you'll get on with.

The bus chugs into town, and after wandering around investigating the prestigious village hall who do you meet next, Animal Crossing fans? Yes, you've guessed correctly - it's the furry faced favourite, Tom Nook. The loaded racoon offers one of four different properties. There's a larger area to explore this time round and fair bit of variety in location: touching the sea, near the trees and beside the river. Our new boss, whom we now owe repayments to, issues a few errands. From the likes of sowing seeds (again), fishing, bug catching to delivering packages. It's an almost cloned experience of past Animal Crossing titles, except from a number of small, but welcome variations in script and characters.

Veteran players can skip through the hassle by bringing over their lives from the DS, and it couldn't be simpler - by using download play, your Wild World characters are copied across, but not deleted. Your pocketed items and worn accessories aren't shifted over, but songs, fish, bugs etc that make up your item catalogue can be; essentially letting fans relive the experience on the big screen.

Fortunately for those who want a little more than a carbon copy, there are advantages for picking up Let's Go to the City. The Wii's interface and remote do make things far more accessible, more involving perhaps. Much like Wild World for the DS you'll be greeted with a nifty on-screen display to tap on, in this case use the Wii-remote to point and click. There isn't support for classic or GameCube controllers, but using the remote and nunchuck combination isn't too much hassle. The nunchuck can be added for the traditionalist, but the simplest way is by going at it solo with the remote, pointing and clicking to an area for your virtual self to follow. Whilst that might sound frustrating in the long run, it's effective and relaxing to boot. Whilst these revisions to control are convenient, it doesn't show much progression to the basic setup bar some neat motion controlled actions - flicking your wrist to catch delicious-looking fish and dragging items to your character using the remote's pointer.

The word city usually conjure up images of huge urban landscapes, giant skyscrapers, an army of cars, smoke and generally a wide open environment to explore. Animal Crossing's city is a little less grand, and more so like a small outdoor shopping mall; a cul-de-sac of familiar faces trying to offer you something to buy, or something to do. Out of the 5 or 6 different stalls to visit, most of these are reminiscent of the travelling sellers in previous games. For example, fortune-teller Katrina has now got her permanent fix, and Crazy Red tries to flog some of his rare items in his store.

There are some new additions this time round to add a little bit of metropolitan class to your character - Harriet can style up a makeover for 3000 bells, churning out a shampoo, fearsome cut and style or the complete works (popping a Mii's head over your character). The auction house provides addictive bidding action, alongside one of the Grace Sister's new and more expensive furniture outlets - Gracie Grace. There are a few visual attractions to wander into, including a bizarre stand-up comedy routine, and a handful of wandering city-goers to chat to. To wrap up the thrilling adventure, you can rummage through a recycling bin with random unwanted items, and this can surprisingly prove quite valuable at times.

Visually the game isn't the worst to grace the Wii; nor is it the most impressive looking. What we've got is something that sits comfortably in the middle. The series in general has relied on its minimal, bright and cheery style to get through; and in the past it's worked well. There's a certain charm that can put a smile on even the coldest face - warm, inviting colours that aren't oozing with over-the-top cuteness. With the leap in technology however, you'd expect there to be improvements - there's still some very shoddy texture work, blatantly recycled material from the past games. It doesn't have to be overly complicated, or change its style to match something like a gritty war shooter, but with an almost identical appearance to the DS outing and a clear lack of polish you may feel a little… short-changed.

Whilst taking that peaceful stroll round town, drifting through the city or splashing bells in the handful of stores there'll be many audio treats for fans and newcomers, again not something to shout home about, but the game's backing music is as snugly as it's always bean - friendly, up-beat simple songs looping away. The Animal Crossing music maestro K.K Slider makes a welcome return, and his cheery beats can still induce vigorous toe-tapping, but like much of the game's audio quality could have been re-sampled and re-arranged with some new characters to back the popular dog.

The new additions can give devoted fans something fresh to do; it all seems short-term - like going to your favourite shopping mall for the nth time; there'll be places that you can't help but visit, but at the end of the day it's not terribly different or exciting since the last time.

Nintendo has requested that Wii Speak be reviewed separately from our review copy; so that'll be included in a different article.

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Animal Crossing: Wild World is a good entry to the series for newer players; there's the same charm and simple fun that has drawn in many fans - but with the available technology and development time there was so much potential for doing more.

If you've been a fan of the past games, the extra City areas and smaller treats may be worth splashing the cash for, and if you've not wandered into the world of Crossing before, then it is the most comprehensive version to pick up. Let's Go to the City is an average effort at best that had the potential to go far - but inevitably is a disappointment.

Also known as

Animal Crossing: City Folk

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (48 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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