Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wikki wikki wi wild

Tom Nook's cold dead eyes. He just sees you as profit and loss.
Fuck you, Tom Nook.

So, having recently finished Professor Layton's Diabolical Box, I had an urge to buy another DS game, and start getting some serious time out of that DSi I bought and then never used.

Browsing the isles of the (curiously Atlantis themed) Fry's near where I'm staying, I came across Animal Crossing, which had two things going for it. First, I'd been meaning to pick up a copy for ages, since I'd only heard good things about it. And second, it was meant to contain hours and hours of gameplay, which is good if you live by yourself in a hotel room.

First impressions (and that's all I can give since I've actually only played a couple of hours on it) were disappointing.

I'd heard this was a great "casual" game, but to me the tutorial was pretty half-arsed and confusing. It started with a really long conversation where you get to enter all kind of details about what sort of village I wanted to live in. Once I actually got control found it didn't really tell me what to do in a lot of places.

I was soon introduced to the criminal Tom Nook. He seems to make his living from forcing mortgages upon new residents, and then enslaving them until they pay the money back.

That's right, the game begins with me having a mortgage, and having to run deliveries back and forward across the town in a minimal wage job. Anyone who says games are about living a fantasy has obviously not played Animal Crossing.

In general though the graphic style is nice, and I like the way the world rotates away behind you. Everything looks a bit ropey in movement, though. It feels like it's not entirely comfortable in its 3d shoes, and would be better suited to some more detailed sprites instead.

The whole thing also feels a little bit flakey in a way I wasn't expecting: Missing animation frames for example (movement using the stylus is analogue, but using the direction pad reveals it has no tweening on direction changes); The cursor pops around the place a lot of the time; the UI is a horrible clash of colours and thrown together icons, and feels half finsihed (possible even worse than the one in Viva Pinata), which is saying something.

Anyway, two hours in and I still haven't hit the "game" of the game. Which I guess shows that my second reason for buying it is probably true. But the opening has been so bad it's put me off a little bit.

I also probably doesn't help that my DSi is set to UK time when I am living eight hours behind that. I did notice the post-tutorial flow seems to fall on its arse if Tom's shop is shut due to the game thinking it's 3am.

Maybe more Animal Crossing-ery later...

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