A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a life simulation game in which you become a citizen of a small community of anthropomorphic animals. If your child is old enough to have played the original Animal Crossing on the GameCube, this game is not that different. But if they haven't played the game before, prepare for hours in front of the TV set while your children move around this new world full of funny animals. This is the first game that utilizes Nintendo's new WiiSpeak microphone, an option that lets you speak to friends and families who are also playing this game in another location. While this opens up the possibility of chat-abuse, you can only chat with people you know, since you have to have exchanged "Friend codes" offline. Online capabilities let also allow you visit towns of friends and family. Reading is a big part of this game so it is not playable by non-readers.
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What's it about?
When the original Animal Crossing was released for Nintendo's GameCube back in 2002 , the combination of cuteness and fun made you want to live in that animal world and do even the dumbest of tasks. Now comes ANIMAL CROSSING CITY FOLK, a sequel for the Wii that includes a console first, voice chat. The story here is a simple one: you go from city to village and back doing chores like catching bugs or cutting hair. Essentially, the story is what you make of it, and it happens in real time, so you'll celebrate festive days like the 4th of July and Halloween.
You'll employ the Wiimote to catch fish in fishing events, dig around with a shovel to find treasures, and customize your town. You can also visit the towns of other pals via the online capability. You'll talk to all the quirky characters, and occasionally you'll titter. Some of these personalities have been in the previous games, like Katrina, a kind of cat who's a psychic. You'll collect bells along the way, which is the currency of City Folk.
Is it any good?
Disappointingly, if you've played the GameCube offering (or a more recent DS game), Animal Crossing City Folk is not that improved or different. Yet it does make you feel a range of emotions. Sometimes, characters you've become friends with leave your village for the city, and you'll feel an abiding sense of loss. You can go to the city (via a virtual bus) as well, but it's basically to shop and do doll-like things to your character like dress him or her up with new clothes. It is fun to find the shoe-shining skunk.
One of the cool things you can do is play as your Mii, which you can customize. So that makes the experience more personal. If you purchase the WiiSpeak microphone option (for an extra $20), you can chat with pals and if you have a USB keyboard, you can text to mobile phones. But for fans of the other games, City Folk offers too much ddjj vu. It's truly a missed opportunity for Nintendo to innovate. For the price, the game should have far more original and inspired elements. If, however, this is the first time you've played an Animal Crossing game, you'll enjoy its homey, funny charm.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their favorite animal characters. Do you like Grace the Hedgehog, who works at the clothing shop, or Katrina, the fortune telling feline? If there were any character that you could take out of the game and make real, which would it be? Did the game give you any ideas for things that you could do to help people in real life? Like what?
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