Animal CrossingTHE GOOD: Lots of variety NES games included Runs in real time Uses GBA connectivity well
THE BAD: Graphically disappointing Real time may cause you to miss some events Weed system very annoying Difficult/impossible to get certain items Can become repetitve
SUMMARY: Animal Crossing is Nintendo's attempt at a life sim, but clearly this is not The Sims.
Presentation of the game is a mixed affair. The sounds are good. The soft music that hums along in the background is well suited to village life and indeed has a charm for anyone with a liking for such soft music. It even changes with the time of day to suit too. In addition we have K.K. Slider, whose catalogue of songs cover so many styles that you're bound to find something you like. The sound effects are also good. The "voices" of the villagers (which is more a sequence of beeps than anything) still does its job.
However, the graphics are horrible. Aside from the great water effects everything else is so bland and slightly blurry. This is especially noticeable after playing other games such as Smash Brothers. The sprites of items also seem to be somewhat low quality. Even in a game so big, such graphics are disappointing.
As for the game itself the first part of the game is a guided mode (the only part of the game one could consider linear). After arriving in the village and picking a house you are tasked to perform some part time work for Tom Nook, the local shopkeeper. When you have finished this the game let's you off to fo... whatever you want.
Which is possibly the greatest trait of the game. The freedom to choose what you want to do and when to do it. AC doesn't try to guide you to do anything past the part time work. Even the supposed goal of paying off the house mortgage isn't pushed upon you. Nothing important gets locked out and nobody repeatedly pesters you about it.
In terms of variety, this game has loads of it. Chat to the locals, plant seeds, go fishing, buy items. There are many things to do to spend your time. These things are different aspects to them as well. Chatting to villagers may be a simple chat, or they may give you a gift or ask you to do something for them. Digging with a shovel can be done to dig for treasure or bash rocks looking for the money rock.
Better still are the NES games, included within this game. Classics such as Donkey Kong, Excitebike and Wario Woods can all be found and played whenever you want. The games themselves range from excellent (Balloon Fight) to poor (Baseball). Fortunately, the great ones outnumber the poor ones. These items can be pretty rare though so players will undoubtly fo everything possible to get ahold of them when they do appear.
The game uses a real time system to determine date and time. What this means is that whatever time and day it is in the real world, it is the same in the game. This has an effect on special events too, such as Snow Day on the 1st of December. THe passage of time also affects other things, such as fruits on trees, weeds on the ground, even the whereabouts of villagers. This gives a real sense of life in the game, as objects and people aren't simply rooted to the same spot as they tend to be in most games.
AC also makes use of the GBA connectively feature and, unlike most games, makes excellent use of it. Many things can be done with this, but the main one is to visit a village just off the shore of the village. Kapp'n happily takes you there, singing a variety of cheery songs as he does. The island itself isn't particularly big, although it does serve as a handy place to store items. You can also plan goodies on the island, whereby the native islander will replace them with other items when you leave (as long as you also leave a shovel for her). This can be a great way to get items, especially since she sometimes leaves rare items around.
A GBA can also be used when making patterns or playing NES games by downloading them to the GBA. Playing NES games on the move is cool, although they vanish when you turn the console off. Not as impressive as the primary use.
Problems while playing? Well, the real time system may cause you to miss some events or items, which can be rather frustrating, especially when trying to complete a specific set. This problem also extends to the village weeds. Every day a few new weeds appear in the village. Play daily and this isn't a problem. Take a break though and the village becomes overrun with them. It seems the other villagers are incapable of pulling weeds. This isn't a nice sight, and trying to get rid of them all can be a real pain.
The biggest issue though is that gameplay can become repetitve. It won't happen for a while due to the sheet variety of what there is to do, but things do become stale which affects the long term value. After all, most of the game action is essentially point and click style, and without an engaging story it's hard to maintain interest for that long.
Overall though a great game that shows just what Nintendo are capable of. It eventually falters but you're likely to enjoy it all the same.