June 17th, 2009

Animal Crossing: City Folk (for Wii)

Momicillin is pleased to introduce visiting writer: Stimey
If you like what you read, find more from her at http://stimeyland.blogspot.com
or http://thingsandstuffreviews.blogspot.com

Since we got our Wii, we have been trying to find fun (non-violent) games that are appropriate for the whole family. I think we may have finally found the perfect game in Animal Crossing: City Folk.

Animal Crossing: City Folk is a very cute game in which your character lives and interacts with computer-controlled characters in a town you create. When you move into the town, you buy a house and learn how to make money to pay off your mortgage.

I know. But it’s a LOT more fun than it sounds.

You roam the town, go fishing, catch bugs, dig up fossils, chat with other characters, and decorate your home however you want. You want 15 fish tanks? You got it! It is very free-form and easy to play. However, my just-barely four-year-old is about the youngest kid I can imagine being able to play this game (with help).

I like that Animal Crossing teaches social skills, money management, and charity. Every time you interact with a character, you are given a choice as to what you want to say and what you want to do. When you catch a fish, you can sell it for money or donate it to the museum. And once your kid decides the museum can fend for itself, he can decide if he wants to use his money to pay down his debt or to buy the fancy grandfather clock over at the store. Or, say, the high jump apparatus that my son bought and has sitting in his virtual living room. (I never said they were going to learn to make GOOD decisions.)

There is also a nice feature that lets you visit other people’s towns. My kids’ cousin has this game too, and if we are both playing at the same time, we can go visit his town or he can come to ours—by invitation only. Of course, you don’t need an invitation to steal exotic fossils or fruit from your pal’s town. Get the version of the game that comes with the microphone and you can chat when you’re wandering around your friend’s town.

There are a lot of cool things about this game, including that you can play with your own Mii. I like that there is nothing violent in the game and that my kids can test out how making different decisions affects outcomes. Although you do run into some unpleasant characters sometimes. That CamoFrog is kind of a jerk.

There are a few things about the game that I don’t love. For instance, there is only room for four players to move into your town. Also, because the game operates in real time, if someone is up at midnight, all the stores are closed and there’s not very much to do.

I can’t figure out yet if the fact that my husband likes the game as much as my kids is a plus or a minus. On one hand, it’s giving them some nice quality time together. On the other hand, I have to watch him play after we put the kids to bed.

There’s a lot to be said for turning off the TV and playing outside, but if you’re going to let your kids play a video game, Animal Crossing: City Folk is a good one to choose.
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This Weeks Tip

You would think at our age that we wouldn’t have to worry about these things. But, as Kate will attest, even at *ahem* 27, untimely breakouts can (and will) happen. What to do? Apply an ice cube for 30 second. Then soak a cotton ball in eye drops and press it to the “spot” for 3 minutes. The theory is that the ice and drop combination will cause blood vessels below the surface to contract—leaving you looking, well, a little less like Rudolph.