So what's the aim if there's no planet-eating demon to destroy? Something way
more exciting: to customise your town and home to whatever standards you see fit. As stated before, making money is the general means to achieve this, but making friends with your neighbours is also essential. Making buddies is a sound way of receiving gifts, and when they trust you, they'll entrust you with small errands - for which you'll be rewarded. And being sycophantic gets you a good, long way!
So it's all selling fruit and fish? No, well not if you have any pride. There are standards to be met. Your home needs to be in tip-top condition. It can't be dingy, you can't have stuff lying about, and you'd better brush up on your feng-shui, because the Happy Room Academy (HRA) will frown upon homes lacking effort. The HRA is a sort of bastard-child of Changing Rooms and Trinny and Susannah; basically, they know their "blinging cribs" from their... well, dumps. The more you impress them, the higher score they'll bestow upon you. Impress them enough, and they'll send you a pressie.
Then there's the environment to consider. At the Town Hall you can get a general assessment. Is it green enough? If not, plant some more trees and flowers. Weeds need to be uprooted - let them get out of hand and The Day of the Triffids will be upon you. One other key feature of your world is the Museum. Here you can view fossils/dinosaur remains, the aquarium, the insect house, the art gallery, and the planetarium. The problem, nay, challenge, is that it's empty to begin with. Yup, you're likely to be the sole contributor. Fish we've covered, along with bugs. So how do you get fossils? The spade is your friend.
We've covered some of the key elements of your day to day tasks, but your world can offer more detailed layers for you to investigate - you think GTA offers sandbox gaming in a living breathing world? Pah, thats nothing! ACWW's world is the real "Liberty" City.
Fans of Animal Crossing for GameCube cried out for a true multiplayer feature and Nintendo has delivered in spades. Not only can you visit your friends' towns via Ad-Hoc mode (local wireless), but, like the glorious Mario Kart online facility, Nintendo has included an Infrastructure mode (Internet wireless). For me this feature elevates ACWW from a good game to an amazing game. If you have Internet gaming buddies, or get involved in online gaming communities (like SPOnG), you have
to get into ACWW online. It's absolutely fascinating to see how different people customise their towns and homes - and the level of attention can be astounding.
If your experience of online gaming so far is one of some whiney 12-year old screaming into your headset "stoopid noob" or "take that FAG!", then you'll be pleased to know ACWW is a world away from that. The community spirit is truly heart-warming. You may visit someone's town, and be instantly intimidated by the level of upgrades they've attained. But even the newest of ACWW recruits may have something an old vet's been in search of for weeks. There's something in this game that brings out na´ve generosity, and will fill the empty husk of even the bitterest of old gamers with joy.
There's been one criticism we've read on several occasions, which we don't agree with: the reliance on friend codes. Unlike Mario Kart, you can't just log onto Nintendo's wireless network and search for open gates. You'll only find those who have given you their Friend Codes, and to whom you have given yours. Some have said this is limiting, but we think it's absolutely necessary. Who wants any old stranger turning up and spitefully taking an axe to your orchard? Plus, ACWW incorporates a text based conversation tool, so Nintendo has to protect gamers of all ages and sensibilities.
SPOnG Score: A (with WiFi), B (without)
[i]Since its awkward pigeon-holing ACWW into a genre, we won't bother. Nor does it really matter too much. What does matter is that it's strangely compelling, in a drip-fed manner. You won't want (or need) to play it for hours on end. 30 minutes a day will keep you ticking along nicely. ACWW is a little and often daily fix of heart-warming fun. We're not suggesting you'll play ACWW forever, but it should keep you going for months. Really, you can pretty much take it as far as you're willing - it's perpetual. Some might think a game with no ultimate objective, a game with no tangible ending in sight, will only harbour apathy. What's the point if you can't complete it? But the problem with games that have an ending is... well, they end.
Long after you've stopped terrorists from Nuking the West, and made those pesky Nazis think twice... again, you'll still be in your town (or someone else's) tending the flower beds and talking to your neighbours. Today's games are spoon fed to you: "Complete Objective A. Proceed to checkpoint B". ACWW is a proactive game. You get out of it what you put in, and it's all the more rewarding for it.[/i]