Animal Crossing City Folk - WII - Preview
E3 2008 Preview
Now more than ever, Nintendo loves peripherals. They released the Wii Zapper last fall; the Wii Wheel and Wii Balance Board this spring; will release the Wii MotionPlus next year; and this fall, WiiSpeak -- a multiplayer communication device -- will make its debut with Animal Crossing: City Folk (both the game and WiiSpeak will be sold separately).
City Folk is almost exactly what you'd expect: a new version of the last game. But what's "new" about it? Starting with the interface, the game feels more like it was designed for PC than Nintendo Wii. When the Wii remote is pointed at the screen, several options pop up on the bottom of the screen, allowing players to access menus very seamlessly. As soon as the remote is pointed away from the screen, the menu options disappear, taking City Folk back to normal gameplay.
Conceptually, not much has changed. Players are still given the freedom to do whatever they please within Animal Crossings' existing limitations. One of the new features is being able to catch fish and donate them to a museum. (Why it's not being called an "aquarium" is anyone's guess.) The fishing mechanics are well below the complexity of Zelda, and are based strictly on timing, not on skill.
City Folk will give players access to a handful of new locations, with many of them surrounding the customization aspects of the game. You'll be able to buy and sell items at an auction house, apply your Mii's aesthetics to your Animal Crossing character, drop by friends' houses to eye their decorations, and peruse the Happy Room Academy to see which player homes are the best rated in the game. Basically, it's the kind of stuff that an Animal Crossing fan will go crazy for but do very little to attract newcomers.
WiiSpeak's inclusion is small but significant: when plugged into your Wii, you'll be able to talk to other City Folk players online. And not just the main player but anyone in the room (Nintendo calls them "Wii Friends"). Whether or not this will add something new to the game or just be another way to communicate online is anyone's guess. It'll be interesting to see if Nintendo has other plans for its Animal Crossing / WiiSpeak connections in the months leading up to its release.