We knew that Animal Crossing: City Folk was going to be announced at E3. There were so many leaks from across the pond that it would have been a huge shock not to see the game yesterday. What still did come as a surprise was the inclusion of a microphone that lets you talk with your online Animal Crossing buddies. Voice Chat on the Wii…hard to believe, isn’t it? I bet it’s marred by friend codes, but hey…you have to start somewhere.
Animal Crossing is always such a strange game to demo at any convention. The style of gameplay just does not mix with convention atmosphere. Regardless, I had the chance to check out the game, and snoop around a bit. Honestly, there’s not that much to say about the game. It plays just like the previous Animal Crossing titles before it, but now you have more freedom, exploration, and activities to do. Obviously, I could only scratch the surface with my playtime, but it’s very safe to say that bigtime AC fans will be very pleased.
The bulk of my demo was spent running around with other real-time characters in the traditional Animal Crossing setting. I was playing as the familiar girl character from the series, someone else was the boy, and than there were Mario and Luigi Miis running around. This on-floor demo had the microphone up and running, so I got to check out the communication features. While the microphone wasn’t set up on the show floor due to noise, you got to hear the people on the other end of the game. To my surprise, one of them was Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario, Luigi, ect…
The voice was clear, very good quality. I had no trouble at all making out what everyone was saying, even with the constant din that the show floor produces. Better yet, the booth attendee had a keyboard plugged into the Wii. She was typing away for me while I was playing. Text bubbles would pop up above my head, and everyone else playing could see them, no matter where I was. She would type, Mr. Martinet and others would respond. It’s nice to see the keyboard support making its way into the game. I’m not a big microphone user, so this support is great for me.
Other than that, we just ran around the village doing your typical Animal Crossing stuff. We went fishing, we chased each other with nets, I picked up some items like furniture, fruit, and all that good stuff. You don’t really get to try out much in the way of the new City stuff, other than what we saw from the presentation earlier today. Get your hair done, visit Gracie, all that. Just like Time Hollow, AC:CF is a game you need to have a lot of quiet, sit-down time to learn and enjoy.
I definitely think this is a big evolution of the series. It seems to be taking ideas from the Sims series, which is also moving things from just your house out into the entire city. There will be more to do and explore, and now that you can have friends join up with you…and actually have two great ways to communicate with them, I’m sure this AC experience will be one of the most engaging yet.