I have been in love with my Wii ever since we bought it earlier in the year. While most of the games have been active, with Wii Sports or Wii Music or Wii Fit, I've been wanting something a little less swing and sway and a little more relax and putter about.
Years ago that would have meant pulling out my Final Fantasy X game for Playstation and beating some beasties into the ground with my RPG party. But you really can't play that around a 4 year old without having to answer some troubling questions. So I needed a game that I could play around my kids, and something that I could drop in and out of as needed without having to remember my skills.
Nintendo's answer to my problem - Animal Crossing: City Folk.
I can best describe this as a RPG for women. Don't get me wrong - guys can have just as much fun, but this is a relaxing, social game that nearly anyone can play. And for those (mostly female) friends of mine who don't play a lot of games because they don't have the time to finish the game, or don't understand the 284 combination button moves needed to control many characters, let me explain why this game is for you. It's very intuitive to play - only one button is ever needed. And it's not your traditional game, because there is no single objective, no final challenge, no "The End" on the screen with credits. Come and go as you like, play for a short time or all day long.
In Animal Crossing: City Folk, you are just starting out on your own, moving to a small town near the city to begin a new life. You pick out the empty property you want and soon find yourself with a mortgage and the need to earn some money. The local shopkeeper hires you to run errands for your first day, which also helps you learn the basics of the game. You can also earn money by collecting and selling fruit, fish, or turnips.
The real fun lies in the details. You can quickly form friendships with the other townsfolk, decorate your house to your own tastes, and plant flowers and trees around the town to decorate as you see fit. On Saturday night you can watch a band play at the museum's coffee shop. A short bus ride will take you to the big city, where you can shop at the fancy stores, have your hair done, and take in a show. The game is also sensitive to date and time. When it's dark at your house, it's dark in the game. Now that it's December, it's snowing in my town.
But perhaps the coolest feature is that your friends can come visit your town, and you can visit theirs. Using your internet connection, you can play together with friends, with your characters interacting together in the game. Typing out conversation to each other could take forever, though, so Nintendo rolled out the Wii Speak, a wireless set-top hands-free microphone. Once you have the Wii Speak, you can have real-time voice chat with friends who are playing with you. (Assuming they have the Wii Speak also, of course.) This feature makes this game a truly social event - you can visit your friends across the country without leaving your couch.
I've been playing Animal Crossing: City Folk for over a month now, and I think I can safely say I love this game. Occasionally I'll find myself wandering around the town aimlessly, but this game is a great stress-reliever when I want to unwind after a long day and escape to a simpler world. Cordy's still not terribly interested in playing video games yet, but once she is I'm sure this will be on the approved list. The non-violent nature of this game makes it perfect for young children.
The only thing that would make Animal Crossing: City Folk more enjoyable is knowing more people who also have it so we could play together. Hear that, people? I want to visit other towns and go shopping with you! So if you buy this game, let me know, OK?
(And trust me - buy the Wii Speak also!)