Animal Crossing: Wild World was originally released for Nintendo DS in 2005. The Wii U Virtual Console version, which is what I own, came out in late 2016.
Like the other games in the Animal Crossing series, Wild World allows you to live as a human in a village of animals. You can befriend them as they buy/trade/sell items with you, ask you for favors (making deliveries, etc.), and so on.
The town store, run by Tom Nook, has different items for sale each day. You can buy furniture for your house, tools to use around town, stationery to use to write letters, and more. Tom Nook also owns your home (at the start, at least), and you have a mortgage you must pay back. Each time you pay off a loan, you can then expand your house further (until the maximum house size is reached).
Another aspect of the game is the town museum. It starts out empty, but you can fill it by donating fish and bugs you catch, fossils you dig up around town, and pieces of art you may buy from Crazy Redd (a traveling salesman).
Those are the basics of the game, but now I’m going to talk about how Wild World differs from the other games in the series. For reference, those other games are: The original Animal Crossing (released on GameCube in 2002), Animal Crossing: City Folk (released on Wii in 2008), and Animal Crossing: New Leaf (released for 3DS in 2013).
One of the biggest complains you’ll see about Wild World is the poor graphics. Being the first Animal Crossing game designed for a portable system, the resolution is very low. So as a result, it looks worse (and much more pixelated) than even the original game. The frame rate isn’t great either, so it can look pretty choppy as you play.
As someone who still plays and enjoys old-school NES games, the graphics don’t bother me much. But when compared to other games in the series, it can be a striking difference.
Another down side of being a Nintendo DS game is that the controls are digital. Without an analog stick, you lose a lot of precision movement that comes in handy…especially when trying to catch bugs that can change direction quickly (or fly away if you’re a bit off-target).
The dialogue is one of the highlights of Wild World: It’s interesting and unpredictable. Villagers will bring up some odd topics, and they can be bizarre and genuinely funny. These aren’t the bland personalities you’ll find in New Leaf. Messages posted to the bulletin board are also quite entertaining. And unlike the newer games in the series, these villagers don’t hold back. They can be quite rude and insulting at times, perhaps even more so than in the original game.
Another strong point is the backstory provided for several of the non-playable characters (NPCs). Tom Nook, Sable, and Blathers (at least) have fairly extensive stories provided in short bursts from time to time. None of the other games in the series have matched Wild World in this respect (even though City Folk does have some backstory about the Able Sisters).
Holidays & Festivals
One major feature of the original Animal Crossing was the selection of festivals, mostly based on real holidays. Sadly, of those, only the New Year’s Eve countdown returned intact. Well technically, the fireworks festival also returned, but it’s now held on Saturday nights in August instead of the U.S.-specific date of July 4th. Wild World has its own events, however they are generally simpler and not as fun.
The Acorn Festival is my favorite of the bunch. It’s a week-long festival in which you collect acorns around town. By giving the acorns to Cornimer (Mayor Tortimer in disguise), you can earn items in the exclusive mush furniture set. This is the only festival in Wild World that feels like a traditional Animal Crossing holiday. But it’s a bit annoying in the fact that it can take most of the week to collect enough acorns to get the full mush set.
My second-favorite festival is Bright Nights. Held in February, it’s a week-long festival in which your animal neighbors will decorate their houses with festive lights. Some trees are also decorated. You can tell Tortimer which house is your favorite, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a point to it. Still, it is enjoyable to see all the lights to brighten up the late-winter blues.
Some other events aren’t annual, but instead recur every two months. On Yay Day, you give each of your villagers a compliment…and that’s about it. On La-Di-Day, your villagers will sing a song for you. You have the option of “hiring” them by making that song the new town tune. It is a nice way to get new town tunes without having to enter notes manually, but it’s not that exciting otherwise.
Wild World was the first game in the series to provide online play, although that service was officially discontinued in 2014. However, you can still play with a friend locally if playing on a Nintendo DS (but not on the Wii U Virtual Console version).
As for multiple players in one town, Wild World handles this differently than other games in the series. Instead of each player having their own home, they must share a house. Each player gets their own bed in the attic, but that’s no consolation.
Another cool feature of the game is the note in a bottle. You can buy these at Tom Nook’s shop, write a letter to put inside, and toss it into the ocean. Your letter may end up in someone else’s town, and you may receive someone else’s letter on your beach. Note: This feature is not fully supported in the Virtual Console version. You can still send notes away, but no one will receive them. And the only notes you’ll find are ones that are already programmed into the game.
Of all the Animal Crossing games, Wild World is most similar to City Folk. In fact, City Folk feels a bit like a Wild World port; they even use the same hourly tunes. But City Folk has improved graphics, analog controls, better holidays, a new city area for shopping, and other improvements. As such, Wild World is my least favorite game in the series (of the core games).
But of course, Wild World is still fun to play. The core gameplay is enjoyable and it can be addicting, especially if you haven’t played the other games extensively. It has some unique events that are worth playing, and the dialogue and character backstory elements are the best in the series. Overall, I rate Animal Crossing: Wild World… 8/10.