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Riddick: Dark Athena debut trailer


The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is a game that will expand on the critically acclaimed original game in the series that released for the Xbox and PC in 2004 as The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.

The new game not only brings the entire original to next-gen consoles with upgraded graphics, effects and audio, but an entirely new game that’s just as large as the original has been added in addition to numerous gameplay enhancements and features.

Starring Vin Diesel as the titular anti-hero Riddick (who has heightened sensory abilities that allow him to see and hear beyond normal human ranges), you must break out of the galaxy’s most deadly prison in this compelling 1st person action experience. Check out the all new trailer for the game.

NASCAR Kart Racing announced for Wii by EA


NASCAR Kart Racing Screenshot

Electronic Arts has revealed NASCAR Kart Racing exclusively for Wii. Which, correct me if I’m wrong, is EA’s first entry in the “kart-racing” genre that was started by Mario Kart and joined by nearly every other mascot character in existence, from Crash Bandicoot to Sonic to LEGO to Bomberman to Konami characters. I’m surprised it took them so long!

NASCAR Kart Racing has been designed from the ground up for Wii and will allow players to “grab the steering wheel as a famed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and speed through treacherous landscapes, wind around rocky cliffs, jump rivers and dodge falling boulders.”

Multiplayer offers up to four-player head-to-head play via split-screen and lots of licensed, named drivers in addition to original characters created just for the game.

Real NASCAR drivers include: Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart.

New EA characters include: Billy Backfire, Bobby Backfire, Kelly Kates, Linda Leadbetter, Maurice L’Eclair, “Shakes” McDaniel, “Thriller” Tadwell, Monica Torres, Luke Trigger, Terri Windsome.

Like all cart racers, you can collect power-ups as you race along the tracks either solo or with a teammate. Power-Ups include: Boomstick, Gas Can, Oil Slick, Bottle Rocket, Shockwave, Free Pass, Yellow Flag, Ad. Nothing out of the ordinary there, as the power-ups do what you’d expect. The Bottle Rocket seeks someone out like a Red Shell from Mario Kart, the ad covers an opponents screen so they can’t see, the shockwave spins out drivers near you, the Yellow Flag gives you a speed boost to the front of the pack, etc. No word yet on whether or not the game supports the “Wii Racing Wheel” but I’d imagine that it will.

NASCAR Kart Racing has a release date of February in the U.S. for the Wii. It does not yet have a release date for Europe.

Key Features of NASCAR Kart Racing include:

* Fun, Competitive Kart Racing For Everyone
Race as your favorite NASCAR driver and compete against friends and family with four-player split-screen action.
* Stay “In The Zone”
Fill your boost meter to trigger a speed burst or slingshot around the track with the help of your teammate in a race for the checkered flag.
* Power-Up To Make The Pass
Yellow-flag the competition, throw an oil slick, launch a rocket, and more as you work your way past the field.
* Set Your Sights On The Championship
The competition has taken control of all tracks – now it’s up to you and a teammate to beat each duo and take ‘em back.

Check out the trailer above to see the game in action. Looks pretty much like a standard cart racing game to me . . . does anyone else spot anything unique about this? Either way though, cart racers ARE fun and this game looks like it could be a fun, multiplayer racing game just like every cart racer is.

Published on December 10th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Xbox Live today: Meteos Wars and PowerUp Forever


1600 Microsoft Points Card for use on Xbox LiveFrom today, at 9AM GMT (2AM PDT), you can play Q Entertainment’s Meteos Wars on Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360. Meteos Wars will be available worldwide for 800 Microsoft Points (that’s US$10 / €9.60 / £6.80 / CAN$12.40 / AU$13.20).

In Meteos Wars you take a ride through an intergalactic journey where you slide, stack, and ignite your blocks to blast away the world-ending Meteos. Only you can stop them from falling and crushing your planet! Master combo links and power-ups to challenge your friends in intense multiplayer sessions.

Also available today is Namco Bandai’s PowerUp Forever on Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360. PowerUp Forever will be available worldwide for 800 Microsoft Points (that’s US$10 / €9.60 / £6.80 / CAN$12.40 / AU$13.20).

Survive! Assimilate! Evolve! In PowerUp Forever, you must grow to survive, and to grow you must destroy! Hunt and defeat enemy Guardians to harvest their glowing energy cores, gaining power to grow your ship and expand your weaponry. As you evolve, you attract the attentions of ever-larger enemies, and your fight for survival goes on.

PS: You can also download a free Winter Holiday Theme!

Published on December 10th, 2008 under , , , , , , , ,

Heroes of the Pacific sequel Heroes over Europe coming to PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2009


Heroes Over Europe dog-fighting Screenshot

Atari has announced Heroes Over Europe for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. The game is the sequel to the air combat/dogfighting prequel, Heroes of the Pacific (released for PS2, Xbox, PC and PSP in 2005) and is being developed by Red Mile Entertainment and published by Atari.

Heroes of the Pacific on PS2The game will take aspiring combat pilots into the bullet-ridden heart of major World War II European air battles in glorious dogfight-friendly high definition. Heroes over Europe follows the Allied campaign from the attacks on London to the destruction of Berlin, with players under orders to strap themselves into the authentically rendered cockpits of the campaign’s iconic aircraft. Their mission: “to survive the most ferocious dogfights ever seen in a flight combat game.”

Here is the trailer for the new game.

Key Features for Heroes Over Europe include:
* Best tactical dogfights in HD: relive the best tactical dogfights in over 40 types of ultra-realistic iconic warplanes of the era, all presented in stunning high definition graphics with realistic localized damage on aircraft;
* Meticulously rendered environments: detailed landscapes and landmarks recreated in painstaking detail including faithful representations of London and Berlin to bring war-torn World War II to life;
* Legacy of ‘Heroes’ series: new installment in the Heroes series builds on its impressive legacy with highly detailed realistic visual presentation and more online options;
* Comprehensive online gameplay: fight for the skies with 4 modes of online multiplayer action for up to 16 players;
* Downloadable content: additional downloadable content will be available from launch.

Halo Wars release date delayed a month till March 3rd


Pre-Order Halo Wars for Xbox 360Microsoft has announced that Halo Wars, the upcoming Ensemble-developed Xbox 360 exclusive real-time strategy entry in the million-sellers series, has been delayed by a week from February to an exact date of March 3rd.

It will launch in four days earlier in Japan an Asia on February 26th and a day later in Europe on February 27th. It will also launch in South America as well as North America on March 3rd.

Pre-Order Halo Wars - Limited Edition for Xbox 360Halo Wars is rated T for Teen and will retail in the U.S. for an MSRP of $60 for the regular edition and $80 for the Halo Wars – Special Edition. The special edition of Halo Wars will include the Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack, an extra in-game vehicle called the Honor Guard Wraith, six trading cards describing the game’s leaders, a starship Spirit of Fire crew patch and the Halo Wars: Genesis graphic novel.

Halo Wars is the first real-time strategy title in the series which originally was in development as a real-time strategy game (the original Halo). And like those games it will have troops of the United Naions Space Command (UNSC) facing off against the alien Covenant, a multiracial empire of religious fanatics hell-bent on wiping humanity from the cosmos. The game will feature several units from the Halo series and features an in-depth storyline and weapons, vehicles, music and more from the Halo franchise, including stuff lifted from the Halo novels.

Halo Wars is the final game from developer Ensemble Studios (who also developed the Age of Empire series) which Microsoft is shutting down.

Published on December 8th, 2008 under , , , , , , ,

Mushroom Men: Spore Wars Art Documentaries – Bad guys, good guys, enemies and weapons


The Spore Wars for WiiMushroom Men: The Spore Wars is one of the most unique Wii exclusive titles on the market, at least visually and conceptually, even it the games have amounted to nothing more than platformers and have received reviews in the 6 to 7 out of 10 range.

Regardless, a lot of effort when into developing Spore Wars as well as Mushroom Men: Rise of the Fungi on DS (both games are developed by Red Fly Studio and published by GameC0ck Media Group), especially when it comes to the elements that make up the game: the visuals, audio, enemies, weapons, concept and theme.

In these video documentaries, take a look behind-the-scenes at what went into making each aspect of Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars.

Art Documentary - The Good Guys

Art Documentary - The Bad Guys

On the Wii Shop today: Sonic The Hedgehog 2, Bruiser and Scratch, Hockey Allstar Shootout


Get a Wii Points Card at AmazonToday Nintendo adds new/classic games to the popular Wii Shop Channel. The games go live at 9AM Pacific time. Wii owners with a high-speed Internet connection can redeem Wii Points to download the games. Wii Points can be purchased in the Wii Shop Channel or at stores like Amazon (see Card above).

We’ve included videos of each of today’s games for nostalgia’s sake or so you can see if it’s to your tastes.

This week’s new WiiWare games are:

Bruiser and Scratch WiiWare screenshot
Bruiser and Scratch (Steel Penny Games, Inc., 1 player, Rated E for Everyone, 1,000 Wii Points = $10): Bruiser and Scratch are stranded in a strange world with a dark secret. Their only hope in finding a path home is to unravel the mystery of this place, one oversized puzzle at a time. Along the way, they make new friends and meet up with old adversaries, each of whom plays a role in their journey. Bruiser and Scratch offers a number of tutorial levels to bring the player up to speed gradually. The story unfolds over 48 puzzles and six landscapes. And for players who can’t get enough, Challenge mode offers 75 additional puzzles that range from child’s play to mind-bogglingly difficult.

Hockey Allstar Shootout (Big Blue Bubble Inc., 1-2 players, Rated E for Everyone, 500 Wii Points = $5): Use the Wii Remote controller as a stick and take the shot as you compete in three exciting Hockey Skills Challenges. In Head 2 Head, it’s just you versus the best goalies in the world in a five-puck shootout. Race against the clock to post the most goals in the fastest time. The three difficulty levels will place you against three increasingly talented goalies, each donning the jersey of their home country. In two-player mode, each player will take a turn as shooter and as goalie, and the player who scores the most goals in five shots is the winner. In Sharp Shooter, you post a high score in one of three difficulty levels by breaking as many targets as you can. Each time a shot fails to break a target, an X will appear in the upper left corner. Three misses and the game is over. Power Shot has you take your best shot and watch the Shot-Speed Clock light up. You have three attempts to blast the fastest shot you can, and only the best speeds will grace the high score list.

This week’s new Virtual Console game is:

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (Sega Master System, 1 player, Rated E for Everyone, 500 Wii Points = $5): Play the popular Sonic The Hedgehog sequel, made specifically for the Sega Master System. Sonic returns home to his island just in time to see Dr. Eggman (a.k.a. Dr. Robotnik) run off with Tails. In fact, Dr. Eggman has kidnapped all of Sonic’s animal friends and placed them in robotic mind-controlling suits. He demands the six Chaos Emeralds, hidden on the island, in exchange for their safe return. Explore underground mine shafts, dash through underwater tunnels and hang glide through the clouds in Sonic’s search for the Chaos Emeralds. Once Sonic’s found them all, he must face off with the evil Dr. Eggman and thwart his plan for global domination.

Animal Crossing classic GameCube review. Nintendo debuts its “sim life” communication series


Animal Crossing for GameCubeAnimal Crossing was one of Nintendo’s new franchises for the Nintendo GameCube. For the first time in a long while, Nintendo had developed an original series that had nothing to do with it’s hallmark characters. No Link, no Samus, no Starfox, no Mario.

Along with Pikmin, Animal Crossing was a bold new direction for a video game that was unlike anything Nintendo had ever done before.

Animal Crossing mixes various elements similar to an RPG or adventure game, including speaking to other characters, going on little “missions” (I use mission loosely), collecting items and even “leveling up” in a way, although in this game it comes in the form of earning a bigger living quarters, which you do by collecting money and paying off your debt.

Not knowing exactly what to call the game, Nintendo labeled it as a “Communication” game, due to how frequently your character needs to interact with the other animals in your village. In addition to this, three other players can move into houses of their own within your village, and you can interact with them via letter writing, gift giving and leaving messages on bulletin boards within your town. Also coming into play is the ability to visit the towns of other players.

But Animal Crossing is less of a sim, in my humble opinion, and more of a “Collection Game”. Although in actuality, I think you could get by just calling the game an “Adventure” game. The only reason that doesn’t fit though is due to the fact that the entire game is set in your one little village (with the exception of when you visit the towns of other players) so you aren’t exactly “exploring” new locations as if you were on an adventure, you ARE however exploring your own town.

The most unique aspect of Animal Crossing came from it’s use of the GameCube’s built-in internal clock (which also works with the Wii, by the way, thanks to the Wii’s backwards compatibility). This meant that the game’s time of day, seasons and events (including the celebration of holidays) actually correspond to real life. This was unique and meant that Animal Crossing lived on even when you were not playing the game. Thus you’d literally have to play everyday, to see everything the game had to offer.

And as you’ll see in my review below, that meant that Animal Crossing is still viable with new things to discover, even when you play it in 2008, six years after it’s original release.

Animal Crossing GameCube logo

System: GameCube
Also On: None
Release Date: USA September 15, 2002 – EUR September 24, 2004 – AUS October 17, 2003 – JAP December 14, 2001, June 27, 2003 (re-release)
Genre: Life Sim/Adventure/Collection/Miscellaneous
Players: Four people can live in the same village, but only one can play at a time.
Save: Four save files max on one memory card. 58-67 blocks to save. That’s 57 blocks for “town data”, and 1 block each for NES data (high scores) and Animal Crossing “special data” (bonus letters)
Controllers: GameCube controller required
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Origin: Japan
Rated: E for Everyone (contains Comic Mischief)

Animal Crossing is a really unique game that is one part Harvest Moon, one part The Sims, and one part RPG.

When you first fire up the game, you will create your character by telling the person who comes to see you that you are “new”. If you have played before, you will select your name from a list. This is the game’s “file select” menu, but it’s just integrated into the game instead of having you browse menus. If you are new, you will start the game on a train, as a cat named Rover sits across from you.

He will start chatting and ask you some questions, this is where you create your character. He will ask you your name, and you will be able to enter your name on the Virtual keyboard. Whenever you are required to write something, this is the keyboard that will come up. You can use either the D-Pad or the Control Stick to navigate the letters, the A Button enters a letter while the B Button deletes one or backspaces. You can also use button shortcuts, the L Button is the space bar, the R Button switches between lower-case and capital letters, and you can use the Y Button to switch to two other keyboards for various letters and symbols. Press Start to confirm what you have entered on the keyboard.

Rover will then follow-up by asking if you like your name. Where you have the option to say it’s either “Cool” or “Cute”, naturally if you select “cool”, you’ll be a boy, and if you select “cute” you will be a girl, although if you select the wrong one you can change it with the follow-up question. Rover will ask a few more questions, where you can either be nice or mean, but it reaches the same conclusion.

Rover asks if you are moving into the town (which you will name if you haven’t done so before) and then says he will hook you up with a house because he knows someone, a friend of his (Tom Nook, you’ll be hearing a lot about him) who runs the shop in your town. He calls Nook on his cell and, in typical Animal Crossing humor, does an impression of Mario. Tom Nook gives him the okay, and he comes back to tell you that there are some houses available to rent, and that Nook is willing to let you move in and will absorb the loss.

Animal Crossing Rover Screenshot

Your train then arrives and you hop off in the town that is the setting for the game. Tom Nook introduces himself, pokes fun at you and then takes you to one of the four houses you can move into. If one isn’t already taken, then you can select it as your home. The “cozy” place, naturally, turns out to be little more than a shack, with simply a wooden box with a journal and a radio tucked in the corner of the little place, complete with metal floor and wooden walls. He will then give you a few tips, telling you to not take other people’s stuff, but to use it as inspiration for organizing your own place. He then tells you about the weird “creature” by your door. He explains that it’s a Gyroid, where you can have it hold items for you (that you can sell to other players), teach it messages to tell visitors (other players) and save your game. Finally, he gives you the price of the house (19,000 Bells, the games currency) once you agree to move in, and when you can’t pay it, he offers you a job at his store to work part time to pay off the debt.

This part of the game serves as the tutorial and gets you acclimated with how the game plays. Nook gives you a uniform, which you can wear by going into your inventory and putting it on your character. He will then give you seeds to plant and then you’ll need to introduce yourself to the townsfolk. They in turn will give you some furniture for your house. This is basically how the rest of the game will work.

The whole game is easily accessible to new players (although there is a ton of text to read, so it’s not necessarily for kids that are too young to understand) and the game is completely open-ended. Once you have introduced yourself to all the characters, Tom Nook will send you on a few “missions”, asking you to complete any tasks that the villagers may have. This is a big part of the game. Basically you will talk to one of the residents and they will ask you to either “deliver” an item to another character or “pick-up” an item from another character. They will also sometimes ask you to do something different, such as bring them a fish. A task will always be the first option after you talk to an animal. Your reward for doing this will be a piece of furniture, a carpet, a shirt and sometimes something else, such as a piece of fruit that doesn’t grow in your village.

Eventually you will earn the tools of the trade, including an axe, a fishing rod and a shovel. Each item allows you to do what you’d expect. You will come across items hidden in the ground that you can dig up with the shovel, these include items that villagers will hide in the ground, buried fossils (you will see a star in the dirt), money (which will shine) and the ability to dig holes in the ground for planting fruit trees. The fishing rod obviously lets you fish in the river and at the beach and last, but not least, the ax allows you to cut down trees (make sure to dig up the stump with the shovel when you do).

Animal Crossing Shovel Screenshot

The controls in the game are about as easy as can be. You move around with the control stick, use the B Button to run as well as to pick things up, the A Button to open doors and talk to people, and the A Button to select items. You can open your inventory with the Y Button and your map with the X Button. Once in your inventory, you’ll see ten slots that can hold items. You can only carry as many items as there are slots, plus one in your hand. If you try to pick up another item when your inventory is maxed, you’ll either have to swap it with another item in your inventory or drop it.

Once in your inventory you’ll see the name of your town at the top, followed by your name and then how much money, or Bells, you have. You’ll also see ten slots for letters on the right and your character on the upper left, which will change depending on what he has equipped.

You can move any item around to another slot by pressing A on the item and selecting “Grab”, or simply pressing the L Button. You can move the cursor around with the control stick. Once you select an item you can do several things with it, such as move it to your character to equip it (such as with the shovel or with a piece of clothing), move it to your money if it’s a money bag (which will add it to your amount), plant it if it’s a seed or bury an item.

Animal Crossing Inventory Screenshot

You can use the X Button to select multiple items (great for selling an entire inventory full of seashells to Tom Nook, for example) and you can use the R Button to switch between screens. The sub-screens show you how many fish and bugs you have collected. Finally, you’ll see a little tab in the middle on the left with a pencil icon. Select this to see up to eight drawings that you have created.

Animal Crossing is a game without real goals, although much like The Sims, there are actually some goals for those people who want to feel as if they are attaining to something.

The first goal is paying off your debt to Tom Nook. You can do this at the Post Office that you will find in your town. You can give as little or as much money towards paying off your debt as you like. This is something you will want to do because as you pay it off, you will increase the size of your home. You will even be given a basement for storing more items.

The secondary goals will take just as long or longer to do than your debt. They include filling out the town museum with new dinosaur fossils, insects, fish and paintings, and then filling out your Tom Nook catalog.

Animal Crossing, as mentioned above, corresponds to actual time. So if it’s daylight outside in real life, it will be so in the game. This has a big effect on the game, particularly having to do with the game’s major locations.

There are several locations in your Animal Crossing town that are important. Here is a list of them as well as their importance:

Tom Nook's Shop Nookway in Animal CrossingThe Post Office: The Post Office in Animal Crossing is open 24-hours a day and is run by Pelly, Phyllis, and Pete (Pete is the delivery boy). Inside the Post Office you can talk to the animal at the counter to mail any letters you have written. This is also where you pay off your debt to Tom Nook. Lastly, you can save any letters and she will store them for you. You can then view them anytime you like by selecting “Save Letter”, moving the cursor to a letter and selecting “read”. Finally, this is where you will find an E-Reader Machine that allows you to transmit items, songs, etc. from any Animal Crossing E-Reader Cards to your game.

Animal Crossing Farway Museum ScreenshotFarway Museum: Manned by Blathers the Owl, this Museum is open 24-hours a day and is where you will want to trade in any items that the museum doesn’t have (it starts off empty) to start filling the museum up. The museum collects dinosaur fossils, fish, bugs and lastly, pictures. To donate any of the above items to the Museum, simply talk to Blathers and select “donate”. The catch is with Fossils, which you will need to dig-up first with your shovel (look for a star in the ground) and then you will need to create a new letter, attach the fossil to it (simply grab it and move it over to the new letter you created, which will be blue) and then mail it. You will then receive the identified fossil in the mail.

Animal Crossing Police Station ScreenshotThe Police Station: The Police Station is open 24 hours and is guarded by Copper and manned inside by Booker, both dogs. The Police Station is where to go to find items in the lost and found, which you can claim. Sometimes one of your own items will end up here if you leave it on the ground. Talk to Copper to find out about upcoming events, as well as to receive a town map of a friend’s town that you are visiting.

Animal Crossing Wishing Well ScreenshotThe Wishing Well: The Wishing Well is where you can find out (go up to it and press A) the state of your town. This is what determines whether you will get new residents who move in. And it is based on the population of trees (flowers don’t count), which can either be too much for an “acre” (one square on your map) or too little. If it’s too much, you’ll want to clear out some trees with your axe. If it’s too little, then you’ll want to plant some trees. You’ll also need to pull out any weeds you see. If you can keep your town in the best form for two straight weeks you will receive the mythical Golden Axe. The Wishing Well is also where you can “Apologize”, you will need to do this if you are on a mission from an animal and the animal has moved away. You will then Apologize and throw the item in the well to get rid of it. Lastly, the Wishing Well is a gathering place for events, and it is where you will find the town mayor, Tortimer the turtle, on those special occasions. Talk to the mayor on a holiday to receive a unique one-of-a-kind item.

Animal Crossing Able Sisters Tailor ScreenshotThe Able Sisters Tailor: The Tailor is open from 7am to 2am and this run by Sable and Mable Abel. This is where you can design your own patterns that you can use on umbrellas, shirts, or other places, such as a billboard by your home, as wallpaper for your house, or to display on your door.

Animal Crossing Train Station ScreenshotThe Train Station: The Train Station is manned by Porter the monkey, and this is where you will go when you want to visit a friend’s town. It is open 24-hours a day, but you can only visit a friends town if they bring over their memory card with their saved data.

Animal Crossing Garbage Dump ScreenshotThe Garbage Dump: This is where you can drop off any unwanted items. Leave it there and the garbage collector’s will take it away. Open 24 hours, you can also find items left by other residents here, which you can pick up. Be sure to check it every day.

A screenshot of your house in Animal CrossingYour House: Last but not least, you will find the homes in Animal Crossing that are houses of you and anyone else playing on your game (up to three others). You will find all four homes in one location. It’s inside your house that you will decorate with items you recieve from animals. There are a huge variety of items including dressers (which you can store items in), chairs, beds, tables, radios (which allow you to play music that you get from K.K. Slider, more on that later), vanitys, and a whole slew of other items, from Rocket Ships to construction signs to plants to Gyroids (strange creatures that make sounds). You can even display collectable items like shirts, fossils, bugs and fish, in your house. All items can be moved around and re-arranged using the A Button. Press the B Button to pick them back up and add them to your inventory (if you do so with holding items you’ll also add anything inside them to your inventory) You will also have a journal that you can use to check special dates or keep notes. You can also go into the houses of other players, although you obviously can’t set any of your items down or pick any of theirs up. In the middle of the houses you will find the town bulletin board. This is open 24-hours and will alert you to upcoming events. Sometimes a fellow resident will hide a special item and tell you the general acre to dig in to find it. You can also leave notes here and can see any notes that other players leave.

Animal Crossing Screenshot of The LighthouseThe Lighthouse
You will find a Lighthouse on the beach. You can’t go inside it and it serves no purpose except during Winter. Where one of the events has the mayor, Tortimer, who mans the lighthouse, going on vacation. While on vacation he will ask you to keep an eye on the lighthouse. If you do a good job, he will reward you.

These are the primary areas of your town. However events will sometimes take place in other random acres. For example, during November you will have the Fall Fishing Tourney, which takes place at the town pond. There is also a town Melody Board, that you can find near the Post Office. This board gives you the town tune, and you can change it if you like. You may want to search online for certain fun tunes to enter here.

And you’ll also have some other visitors who will come and set-up shop briefly at your town. These characters are special and will never be in your town for more than one day. There are Holiday characters, who visit only during certain Holidays, and Event Characters, who will show up more often.

Here is a list of all the Event Characters:

Joan the Boar Animal Crossing Character ArtworkJoan the Boar
This wandering boar will sell you turnips every Sunday morning, from 6am till noon. You will find her wandering around in a random acre of the town. Turnips are a special commodity that acts as Animal Crossing’s own little stock market. You can buy turnips in bunches of either 10, 50 or 100. And you can purchase as many as you like. You will then sell them during the week to Tom Nook. His prices for the turnips will change everyday. Some days you will gain a profit as he will buy them for more than you paid for them, but other days he may not give you as much as you bought them for, which means you’ll take a loss. The turnips go bad after a week, so the key is to sell them when you know for sure that you are making a profit, but it’s a gamble because you never know how much his price will be the next day. Make sure to sell them before the next Sunday or they will spoil.

Animal Crossing K.K. Slider Character ArtworkK.K. Slider
The town’s groovy, hippie-like resident musician, K.K. Slider (who’s real name is Totakeke) will visit your town every Saturday evening from 8pm till midnight. You will find him sitting on the box at the Train Station. He will play you a random song on his banjo, unless you request a certain song. The game never gives you a list per se, but you can find out about different songs by checking the stereo in the homes of your fellow villagers. Of course, it’s easier to just find the list online. If you request a song, you must enter the name exactly as it’s printed, he then will play you the song. If you don’t request one, then he will play a random song. K.K. Sliders tunes are one of the best parts of the game if you ask me, each song is unique, and when he plays it the credits for Animal Crossing will roll as the screen darkens, light shines on K.K., he starts strumming his banjo, and he SINGS the song. The way he sings is absolutely hilarious, and you will look forward to each and every Saturday, not only to grow your list of songs, but also to hear him sing. He will then give you a soundcheck, which is a copy of that song that you can play on your stereo. There are 55 songs total(!) and a few hidden ones that you can only get by requesting them. To check how many songs you have, talk to Tom Nook where you can view all your songs under your Catalog, alternatively you can check how many songs you have by going to the music player in your house and selecting “View Library”.

Animal Crossing Crazy Redd Character ArtworkCrazy Redd the Fox
Crazy Redd is a sly traveling salesmen Fox who will visit your town from time to time. When he does, he will set up shop in a tent on a random acre (You will know it’s him because the tent says “Black Market” with the word “Black” crossed out). Crazy Redd will sell you two rare items at high prices, but will also try to trick you by selling one regular item (that you can get at Tom Nook’s) at an outrageous price. The best way to avoid this is to keep track of what items you have so that you will be able to recognize them at Redd’s.

Animal Crossing Sahara Character ArtworkSaharah the Camel
Saharah is another wandering sales-person who will visit your town from time to time and is open for 24 hours. She will sell you rare carpets that you can’t get any other way. These will help you complete a set that you will need to obtain a higher score from the HRA. Unlike the other sales-people that will visit your town, she has a unique way of doing business. The only way to get carpets from her is to trade in a carpet of yours, along with some money. Her prices however, like all the traveling sales-men, are steep and will go up each time you purchase a carpet.

Animal Crossing Gracie Character ArtworkGracie the Giraffe
Gracie will visit your town from time to time in her shiny sports car and will sell you rare shirts, that you can’t get anywhere else. In addition to getting your hands on rare shirts, you will be able to get some special ones if you do a good enough job in a unique car-washing mini-game which has you tapping the A Button with lightning speed to clean it up.

Animal Crossing Gulliver Character ArtworkGulliver the Seagull Sailor
Gulliver is a sailing seagull that will wash up on the beach in your village once a week. Keep talking to him to hear his tales of adventure until he gives you an item. Make sure to check the beach every week because he has a huge number of items to give you and all of them are rare and cannot be given elsewhere.

Animal Crossing Katrina Character ArtworkKatrina the Fortune-Telling Cat
Katrina is a black cat who will tell your fortune. She will randomly visit your village and set up shop in a random acre where you can visit her at 9pm (she stays for 24 hours afterward). Talk to her to have her tell you your forturne. Which is typically a bunch of nonsense, but if you keep it up she will eventually give you a special forturne. These will increase the amount of luck you have in the village for that day, including: Love (villagers of the opposite sex will be attracted to you), Unpopularity (Villagers will be cold to you), Lucky Finances (You’ll be able to find more money than normal), Lucky Materials (it’ll be easier to obtain rare items) and Unlucky (you’ll slip and fall a lot). In order to get another special fortune you’ll have to wait until her next visit.

Animal Crossing Wendell Character ArtworkWendell the Traveling Walrus Artist
Wendell will visit your town from time to time, although more rarely than other characters. Like Sarah and her carpets, Wendell will give you a piece of rare Wallpaper. You can obtain more than one (up to three) if you talk to Wendell as another player from your village, but he will only give you one Wallpaper per character per visit. The only catch is that you must give the starving artist some fish in return for his wallpaper. He loves all fish, so any kind will do.

Animal Crossing Wisp Character ArtworkWisp the Ghost
Wisp is a late night visitor who comes to scare the naughty into shape . . . and no he has no connection to Santa Clause. Actually wisp will pay you a visit late at night if you have been too lazy to clear your village of weeds. He is invisible but will whisper to you. When he does he will materialize and ask you to catch five spirits with your net. Do so and he will reward you by either clearing your town of weeds, painting your roof or giving you an item.

In addition to the above, your Animal Crossing town will have a number of residents who will be in your town day after day. All told, there are a staggering 218 normal villagers. These characters will move in and out of your village from time to time (depending, as mentioned above, on how much or how little green [i.e. trees] there is) but they will largely stay for quite a while and you can only have up to 15 villagers at any one time. Although if you don’t talk to a villager for a long while, they may move. If they do move, they will be gone forever unless you have a second memory card with town data inserted into the 2nd Memory Card slot, then they will move there and may still remember your character.

However having such a large number of characters and only being able to have 15 at a time makes it virtually impossible to see every character in the game. Which is a bummer because every character has their own unique personality. Some will be peppy, some grumpy, others masculine, etc. etc. As the name of the game suggests, all of the villagers in your town are animals, while your characters is a human (ignoring the fact that he has horns growing out of his head, of course . . .). Each villager even has a funny phrase that they will repeat at the end of their lines when you talk to them. Example of some of the phrases in my game include “kittycat”, “pthpth”, “grumble”, “donk”, “hip-oh”, “splish”, “la-di-da”, “cheepers”, “toady”, etc. Typically these phrases will be related to what type of animal the characters is. Every once in a while they’ll ask you if you want to change it, and you can change it to whatever you like. Villagers also have moods that will randomly shift, they can be angry, depressed, etc.

This Animal Crossing screenshot has you talking to Apollo

These emotions are translated to the player through a variety of different animations and effects that will randomly come over the character to convey a certain emotion. These include a raining storm cloud when they are depressed, a red puff when they are angry, a light bulb when they have an idea, etc. Some of them are really common, such a dark line that flashes across their eyes when they suspect something of you, flowers that come pouring out of them if they are super happy, a heart that floats up above them when they love something, a question mark or exclamation point (self-explanatory), tears (along with a hilarious shake of the body as they panic) and a hilarious “surprise” animation. In addition to the effects, the characters are also quite animated themselves, and they’re eyes and face will chance as they speak to you. This all combines to make the characters very unique, appealing, charming and fun to chat with, even though they will often repeat lines. Yet even still, they have so much to say that it takes quite a lot before you grow tired, and even talking to the same character multiple times can give you different results. This creates the illusion of them having a ton to say. Cause generally, they do.

You will want to talk to the Animals for a variety of reasons, but the chief goal of them all is to gain new objects, in the form of furniture, shirts, umbrellas, stationary and, occasionally fruit. These are all things that can be gotten elsewhere, but you never know when you will get something rare from an animal, or when they will give you something that you have yet to buy in Tom Nook’s shop.

Animal Crossing Tom Nook's Shop Screenshot

The first way to get something from a villager is to do a task for them, as mentioned above. I like to call these “missions”, but in reality they are simply fetch quests. They will tell you to get a certain item that, most of the time, another character borrowed from them. You will then go find that character and ask for the item back. When you return it to the original villager, they will reward you with an item. Sometimes these fetch quests will be longer, requiring you to talk to multiple characters who just happened to lend that particular item you need to another character. Other times they will ask you to bring them something, such as a fish or an insect. All characters will have these tasks for you, and you will want to do them to gain new items as well as to make them happier toward you, which will give you a better chance of getting a good item from them in a trade later. However, don’t be looking for variety. Just because I call them “missions”, doesn’t mean this is GTA. There are only a few items that they will request and thus you will see the same ones over and over again. However either way all you are doing is fetching the item anyway, so I suppose it doesn’t really matter what item it is, cause you’re doing the same action each time. Repetitive? Yes it can be. But Animal Crossing, much like The Sims, is a game built in repetition, but that doesn’t mean that it makes the action boring. Besides, it’s always fun to see what item they will give you . . . a new piece of furniture? Something rare that you haven’t gotten before, a new carpet, a new wallpaper, a new shirt?

In addition to obtaining items by doing these missions, you can also always select the second option when you talk to a villager (the first is always a mission while the third is always “never mind”). This will cause them to say something random (”I really like the weather today”, etc.), give you a tip (”shaking trees too much may cause you to be stung by bees”), trade an item with you or give you money for an item in your inventory, or possibly play a kind of mini-game with you (such as one that has you guessing a number to receive a certain item, or one in which you must answer questions correctly).

Doing this will also help you complete your secondary objective, which is filling up your Tom Nook Catalog. I.e. collecting every item in the game. Once you get a new item, it is added to the Catalog, which you can view by talking to Tom Nook. The Catalog will show you every item you have collected, and unless it’s a rare item, then you can order that, item for a price, at any time. The Catalog is divided into sections, including: Furniture, Wallpaper, Carpet, Clothing, Items (umbrella’s and your tools), Stationary, Gyroids, Fossils and Music. It will also tell you how many of each item you have obtained, although it won’t tell you the max number of items that are in the game . . .

This is one of the few shortcomings in my opinion. Since one of the main goals is to collect all the items in the game (which isn’t a stated goal makes sense as one) Nintendo should’ve made it easier for players to organize and keep track of their goal. For example, there should be a way to see if you already have an item without having to talk to Tom Nook to double check your Catalog. And so, naturally, you should also be able to view your Catalog at any time.

This really came into play when I wanted to finally sell off all the items that had been building up in my town since I first started playing. Instead of being able to easily see whether it was an item I had doubles of (in which case, I might want to keep one and sell or trade the other), I ended up writing down each item and double checking that list to see if I had doubles. I also wish they would’ve added a status bar to your catalog for each category. This would make it fun to see the line build up until you reach the end goal of having obtained every item in that category. They wouldn’t even have had to reveal the max number of items. Any of these suggestions would’ve been great, as it stands, players will simply look online or in a strategy guide to find out this information.

So what does a typical Animal Crossing day look like? Outside of the above, one of the first things you will want to do when you start playing is to increase your amount of Bells. This can be done several ways. The easiest way, especially starting off, is to collect the seashells that line the beach, and then sell them to Tom Nook. The second easiest way is to collect fruit. Fruit will grow on the trees in your village, and each village has it’s own kind of fruit that only grows in that village. This means that your friends will most likely have a different kind of main fruit in their village than you do. There is only one type of main fruit, but you will occasionally be given new fruit by the villagers that doesn’t grow in your village. And you can plant this fruit by digging a hole and “planting” the fruit in it, to grow a fruit tree (which you will need to check on at least once a day, in the morning, or else it will disappear and not grow). The types of fruit in the game include: Pears, Peaches, Cherries, Oranges, Apples, and Coconut (think I’m missing one . . .). You will get more Bells from Tom Nook if you sell him a fruit that isn’t from your village, although the price (500 Bells) is always the same no matter what type of fruit it is.

Another way to get money is by simply selling items you have, and it can include almost anything: Furniture, Stationary, Clothes, Umbrellas, Fish, Insects, Fossils. You can also get money by talking to villagers who will occasionally offer to buy something in your inventory if you select the second option when talking to them. However, you never know if the price they ask will be better than what Tom Nook will give you (even though usually it is) so there is a sense of risk and reward in doing so, and if you say no when a villager offers to buy something, that doesn’t reflect well on you (and can get them angry).

The last way to get money in the game is by shaking trees. This may cause a batch of 100 Bells to fall from it’s branches (and occasionally a rare item, which will happen once every day in one of the trees you shake). Although not a lot, this will add up. And let’s face it, it’s addictive to shake those damn trees . . . I always find myself shaking each and every one! Like a lot of things in Animal Crossing though, there is a sense of risk and reward, because you will ocassionally drop a honeycomb full of bees, who will sting you! This will cause various reactions from the villagers when you talk to them (from humor to fright) and can have a negative reaction.

Probably the best items to sell to Tom Nook that are easily attainable are Fossils, he will give you a very good price for most of them, typically over 1,000 Bells. Be careful though, some fossils are very rare.

As such, you will always want to be on the lookout for spots in the ground that you can dig up with your shovel to find items. Items hidden in the ground will include fossils, Gyroids and occasionally pitfalls (a prank item whose only use is to plant it in the ground, which will cause a villager to fall into it if they step over it) and an item that a villager has buried. You will also come across shining spots in the ground, which will offer up 1,000 Bells. Plant piece of fruit to create a special fruit tree, and if you feel really lucky, by another axe (so you have two in your inventory) and bury it in the shining spot. Shake the tree that grows for your chance to get the legendary Golden Shovel.

When you dig up fossils, they will originally be in the form of unidentified fossils, as mentioned above you will need to create a letter to the Faraway Musuem, attach the fossil and then send it in to get identified. It will then be mailed back to you. Once you have done that, you will want to make sure to take that particular fossil to the Museum to add it to your collection if you haven’t already done so.

Likewise, you will want to do so with any fish or insects you collect. To fish, you simply walk up to any body of water with your Fishing Rod equipped (walk, don’t run, running will scare the fish) and press the A Button to throw in the lure. From there it is simply a waiting game. Rinse and repeat until a fish bites. When it does, your controller will rumble and it will nibble a few times before the fish turns a shadowy color which is your clue to press the A Button. Time it right to pull the fish up. If it’s a fish you haven’t caught before, take it to the Museum to add it to your collection, at which point Blathers will take it from your inventory, and add it to the Museum (as he does with all donated items, unless it’s one you already donated, then he gives it back).

As for insects, you will occasionally find them in the piles of leaves around the town, hanging from trees or climbing on flowers. In order to catch one, you will need to equip the Bug Catching Net. You will then want to hold the A Button to ready the net for swinging, which will also make you creep slowly. Then get close enough to let loose with the net and catch a bug. Like with fish, there are a ton of different types of bugs to catch. If you haven’t already, then donate it to the Museum to build up your collection. If you have donated it already, then sell it to Nook or trade it with a villager.

The only way to get the mythical Golden Fishing Rod and Golden Bug-Catching Net is to catch every kind of fish and bug in the game. To say that this is quite a feat is an understatement. Because of the game’s real-time clock, certain bugs and fish will only be obtainable during certain seasons (Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer are all represented in Animal Crossing, as is various weather like rain and snow) which means that you will have to literally play all year to get every type of fish and bug. Good luck!

After doing the above, continuing on with a typical day in Animal Crossing, there are only a few things left. And most of it involves places. You will want to check the dump and the Lost and Found at the Police Station each day for new items. You will also want to occasionally compose letters to various town residents and send them off at the post office, this will make them happy and they will occasionally send you items in return. You will want to check the Wishing Well to find out the state of your town, and appropriately plant or eliminate trees and weeds. You will find several weeds growing around your town each day (if you don’t play the game for a long time and come back your town will be COVERED in weeds) and you’ll want to walk over to them and press the B Button to pluck them and make your town prettier.

Last but not least is Nook’s shop. You will want to buy any new items he has to increase your catalog. In addition to being able to sell them back to Nook (for much less) or trade them with villagers (almost always for more Bells than Nook would give, or for another item they’ll trade you) you will be able to use the items to decorate your house. Furniture and other random objects (from pool tables to tvs to a weight bench, a chess table and various plants, and much, much, much more) can be placed in your home by “Dropipng” them, at which point they can be pushed and turned to your hearts content. Each and everyday your house will be rated by the HRA and given a score. This score can be increased by making sure you stick to certain themes of items.

For each item you buy at Nook’s, you will be given a raffle ticket. For every five tickets, you will be able to enter Nook’s raffle at the end of the month, where you can net rare items like an NES game. It’s a good idea to make sure you have enough raffles to earn all three items that he raffles, as they are rare and hard to come by.

Yes I did say NES games. One of the best features of Animal Crossing on the GameCube (and a feature missing from both Animal Crossing: Wild World on DS and Animal Crossing: City Folk on the Wii) is the fact that the most rare, and treasured items of all, are PLAYABLE NES games. If there is any such goal in Animal Crossing that is one that you REALLY will want to attain, it would be unlocking every NES game, because they are all playable, which adds significantly to the value of the Animal Crossing itself. Once you buy or win an NES game, drop it in your house (preferably on a table) and go up to it and press A to play it. Games such as Excitebike, Donkey Kong (1, 3, Junior & Jr. Math), Clu Clu Land, Balloon Fight, Baseball, Wario’s Woods, Golf, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros., Ice Climber, Tennis, Soccer, Punch-Out!! and Pinball are all hidden in the game. Best of all, Animal Crossing will even save your high scores in each game, something that not even some of the normal NES games did upon their release! All in all, there are a whopping 24 NES games to be found in Animal Crossing. Advance Play even allows you to connect your GameBoy Advance to the game and upload the smaller NES games to the handheld for play.

After doing all of the above, there are a few other activities in Animal Crossing before we get into the specific Holiday-related ones.

First of all, there is the HRA (The Happy Room Academy). This is the group, as mentioned above, that rates your house. The HRA will send you a letter every day that will tell you your current house score. This is judged based on what items you have in your house and, to an extent, how it’s arranged. However, the game only gives you vague tips as to how to increase it, and never spells it out for you. So I will do so here, because it is a fun part of the game.

It is a bit complex, but here are the gist of things. There are three types of Furniture in the game that go towards the HRA score: Sets, Themes and Series. Themes include decorative objects which don’t serve a purpose except for looking cool. An example of this is the Chess theme, which includes items like a chess board and life-size chess pieces. A series is a group of furniture that are all the same type, such as the Ranch, Modern, Lovely, and Kiddie series. Each one will include furniture like a bed, table, couch, chair, desk, lamp, pantry, etc. Last, but not least, are Sets. These are items that don’t fit into the above two categories and include only a few items. The Frog Set, for example, includes the Lily-Pad Table and Froggy Chair.

Generally, Themes and Series should go on the first floor (complete with matching carpet and walllpaper) with Sets going in the basement (once you unlock it). Having any of them complete will net you more points. In addition, there are special items that you can add to your house that will increase the amount of points you earn, such as items you get from characters like Tortimer or other special Holiday characters (such as the Spooky Halloween series). In addition, points are deducted for any clutter laying on the floor (unless you put it in your basement), so it’s best to put those things away in dressers or other storage, or keep them laying on the ground around the village. In addition, you need to make sure that any usable items (such as chairs, which you can sit on, or musical items that you can “play” by pressing the A Button to have them make a sound) are positioned so that you can access them without moving them. Additionally, items with a face should be facing away from a wall, and not towards a wall (that includes the see-through wall where your door is, face them away for more points, even if it means you can’t see the front of the object). Having a high HRA score will net you a few exclusive items that you can’t get any other way, which naturally, will help you complete your catalog.

Last, but definitely not least, there is Feng Shui. Feng Shui in real-life was an ancient Chinese practice where the aesthetics of your environment were thought to bring good fortune. In modern times, it has come to be known as a way of using certain colors and placement of furniture (such as chairs and tables) to effect the mood of a person in a positive way. So a restaurant might make the room a certain color because it’s thought that that color will unconsciously make you want to stick around. Thus you will eat more food, giving them more money (naturally). In Animal Crossing, Feng Shui is a way of organizing and color coding your home in order to bring you good luck (and help with your HRA score too). Like with the HRA, Feng Shui is only alluded to by villagers and is never completely spelled out for you, though you will get the occasional tip. To maximize Feng Shui in the game, you will want to color code the top of your house with orange objects, the right side with red objects, the bottom part of your house with green objects and the left side with yellow objects. The feng shui however only extends a few grids out, so the middle of your room won’t effect your Feng Shui. In addition, the corners of the room overlap, allowing you to use both colors. A positive Feng Shui will improve your “good luck” with finding items, rare items and money. Always a good thing!

Finally, we come to one of the most dynamic parts of Animal Crossing. And that is the game’s real-time clock . . . or rather it’s real-time calender. As stated many times, the residents of your town will celebrate REAL holidays, such as Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving, albeit, some with different names (Christmas is called “Toy Day”, for example). They even celebrate lesser holidays such as Mayor Day (President’s Day) and the like. On the big days, such as Halloween, Christmas and Thanksgiving, you will have special characters that visit your town. Here is a brief(er) rundown of them as well as what you will want to do on that day and the special events and items that take place.

Jack the King of Halloween
On Halloween (which is actually called so in the game) all the villagers dress up as Jack (i.e. they put a Jack O’Lantern on their heads) so that you can’t tell the villagers apart. They will then run up to you demanding candy. Candy is sold all month long during October, and you’ll want to stock up on it for this night. Contrary to what the villagers want you to think, candy is the last thing you want to give them.

Animal Crossing Jack the King of Halloween Character Artwork

Why? Because hidden amongst all the villagers is the true Jack, the King of Halloween, who is naturally dressed up just like the rest of the villagers and will appear in a random acre. The only way to tell it’s Jack is because Jack won’t chase you, unlike the normal villagers. But just like them, Jack will demand candy. And you better have candy! If not, you will miss out on your reward, which is a piece of the Spooky series (which includes wallpaper and carpet amongst the furniture). If you don’t have candy, Jack, like the villagers, will turn your items into bum items (Jack O’Lantern and a Jack in the Box) and your shirt into rags. The best way to avoid this is to wear a crappy shirt you don’t care about, and then create blank letters and attach each piece of candy to those letters, this will protect your candy. After getting an item from Jack, he will disappear again to a random acre. If you manage to find him again, you can trade in candy to get another item in the Spooky series.

And be sure that you put the candy from your letters to your inventory BEFORE you talk to him, or else you will be “tricked” (bum items as mentioned above) and won’t be able to talk to him to get an item afterward. Which means you’ll have to find him AGAIN before you can get another item. This is a real chore that can take hours (it can be very difficult to find Jack, he IS there, but sometimes you’ll literally have to scour every acre before you find him) so only the most persistent players will get the entire Spooky series. Although it’s made harder because Jack can and will give you doubles of the Spooky Items, so make sure you have LOTS of candy. As for me, I managed to get all of them (after manipulating time a few times . . .) EXCEPT the spooky carpet, which I need to finish my room. And can’t get unless I cheat and go back in time to Halloween, or wait until next year . . . because these special items can’t be traded. *cries* Note also that Jack is only available from 6pm on October 31st till 1am on November 1st the next day.

Animal Crossing Franklin the Thankgiving Turkey Character Artwork

Franklin the Turkey
Thanksgiving is the worst day for Franklin the Turkey, who you will find on the fourth Thursday of November (Thanksgiving in the United States) from 3pm till 9pm. During this time, the village will be having their Thanksgiving feast . . . but before the village knows it, Franklin realizes that he’s the main course and ducks for cover! Talk to Franklin and he’ll ask you to steal the silverware from the tables and bring them back to him. Doing so will reassure him that you won’t take a bite of his body, and he will reward you with a piece from the Harvest series of Furniture. If you want to get all the Harvest pieces (which you will, cause all these special items are worth lots of money to trade in or lots of HRA points to use) simply mix and repeat.

Animal Crossing Jingle the Christmas Reindeer Character Artwork

Jingle the Reindeer
On Christmas day, from 8pm on December 24th till 1am December 25th you will find Jingle the Reindeer wandering in one of the acres. Talk to him several times and he will give you a piece of Jingle furniture. But only one . . . UNLESS you change clothes and then talk to him again. Do so and he won’t recognize you. This will allow you to get the entire Jingle Series of Furniture (including wallpaper and carpet).

Animal Crossing Frosty the Snowman Character Artwork

Frosty the Snowman (or just “Snowman”)
Last but not least, the last in the line of holiday-related special characters is the Snowman. Unlike the others, the Snowman starts out as an inanimate object between Christmas and the end of February. During this time, it will snow in the world of Animal Crossing, and you will ocassionally come across balls of snow. You can roll these balls to make them bigger. The key is to find three of them and roll them on top of each other to create a proper snowman (biggest piece on bottom, then smaller two on top). Do so properlly and Frosty will come to life! (Ok his name is just “Snowman” but he is definitely a take on Frosty!). Talk to him and he will give you a piece of the Snowman series of furniture (including wallpaper and carpet). But be careful not to make a disproportionate snowman . . .

The holidays and real-time clock are really what set Animal Crossing apart from all other console games of it’s ilk. Time plays a very important role because not only does the time of day change but everything from what the animals will say and talk about to certain places closing (Tom Nook’s shop), etc. And not only that but the holidays and special characters that visit on special days really make the game special. There is always something to look forward too, whether it’s Gracie and her special clothing, Sahara and her unique carpets or Katrina and her psychic ways. And you will always know when someone is coming by talking to Copper who will keep you updated (if you ask about “Goings-On”) or by checking the town bulletin board frequently.

But it’s the little things that really make this game come together to equal a great package. For example if you don’t save before you quit the game or if you manipulate time by changing the in-game clock (which can mess up some things, so be careful) you will get a visit by Mr. Resetti before you are able to leave your house. This character is one of the funniest in the game. He will chew you out for resetting the game and will literally talk your ear off as he goes on and on and on, which is an awesome “punishment”. It’s hilarious because the writing is really funny and yet at the same time it’s annoying because he will keep going on and on and take up your time. And you aren’t able to continue until you listen to EVERYTHING he says. Reset enough times and he will force you to spell a word exactly as he says it, while only giving you a few seconds to look at it before you have to type it out. And you literally can’t continue until you get it right. On another occasion he will “fake reset” your game which is one of the coolest moments.

Animal Crossing Mr. Resetti Character Artwork

Another cool addition to detail is how blathers will tell you all about the various creatures that you turn in at the musuem. Complete a dinosaur and he’ll give you info like this: “Mammoth – Pleistocene earth was their home, and they are firmly established in our minds as creatures of the Ice Age. Mammoths ranged in height from 6 feet to 14 feet at the shoulder. The whooly mammoth is their most famous species. The last of the mammoths died out some 10,000 years ago, which coincides with the ascent of man. It is, perhaps, the first animal whose extinction was contributed to by man. Though certainly not the last. Humans can truly be the most thoughtless and callous of creatures when they think only of themselves! Hoo! I say again: HOO! Oh, dear! I wasn’t referring to you personally. No offense intended. Temper, temper! ”

Sadly there is no way to view his information on the creatures again (which seems to be a big oversight if you ask me, what’s the point if you will only hear it once?) but it’s a cool detail nonetheless. And notice all the humor packed into even that single paragraph? This game is FULL of it and you’ll laugh and chuckle to yourself constantly while playing, whether it’s from the funny animations, the witty dialogue or the way all the animals say a little catchphrase at the end of their sentences.

Everything just comes together to make Animal Crossing one of the most charming and addictive experiences in gaming. The collection factor is a reason to keep on going (VERY few people will actually complete the game 100% or even max out any one of the collections) and there is so much to collect that you will be playing for a long, long time. Additionally, even the short term goals such as upgrading your house will take you a while to complete. Especially if you don’t know the tricks of the trade, such as selling Turnips that you can only buy on Sunday morning to insane prices (easily the most efficient way to rack in lots of dough) or that fossils are worth bundles of cash. And even the little things such as planting other types of fruit that isn’t from your town in the ground (note that you can only bury something with the shovel equipped) so that a fruit tree will grow, for long term financial success.

And then there are the NES games, which are not only fun to play, but there are enough of them that you may want to purchase the game simply to have an easy way to access a load of classic Nintendo-developed titles, from Excitebike to Balloon Fight.

All in all, Animal Crossing was one of Nintendo’s most original titles for the GameCube, and even today the game is still a joy to play. And the NES exclusive unlockables ensure that this is one Animal Crossing game that can never be outbeaten, even if it lacks many of the features of the newest game, Animal Crossing: City Folk. Either way you slice it, Animal Crossing ranks up there as one of the best Nintendo GameCube games.

Animal Crossing Character Artwork Banner

Animal Crossing is a fun game, no matter how simple or trivial the activity at hand. Whether it’s shaking fruit from trees, talking to Animals, selling items for Bells or taking part in an event, Animal Crossing does it all with charm and grace via witty dialogue that’s extremely well written and, best of all, laugh-out-loud funny, cute and charming. Much like The Sims, Animal Crossing is a game that looks boring on the surface (and probably to people watching), but if you are the type who likes to collect things or just have fun in the moment, then Animal Crossing will keep you occupied FOREVER (literally). The game changes from day to day so there is something to discover every year, no matter what year you are playing in. And only the most dedicated of players will manage to get everything and truly complete the game, and that’s after they’ve spent 100 hours wrapped up in the world of animals. However, if you have played the later Animal Crossing games, Wild World and now, City Folk, then there is little to no reason to go back . . . except, of course, if you want to unlock a bunch of simple NES games, which is really the PRIME reason to get into the original Animal Crossing. At least, in the opinion of this reviewer, having all the NES games to look forward to unlocking was the main selling point, and the main reason to keep trucking. Overall, a fantastic and highly addictive game. Although you can choose to play for only an hour (or less), it’s much more likely that you’ll spend several hours (or more) once you actually sit down to play it. And that speaks volumes.

Graphics: 8.0
Although very simple, both artistically and technically, Animal Crossing has one thing that can’t be outlooked, charm. Charm up the wazoo. If you are purposefully going for an understated, simplistic looking style (and it’s true that this game was originally made for N64), then Animal Crossing is just about the best of the best. And the effects used for the emotions the animals show are genius and really add so much spice to the game that you won’t even care how the game looks. It’ll still draw you in.

Music and Sound: 8.0
As with the graphics, the music and sound is something that seems shallow and simplistic on the surface, but the more you get into the game the better it is. From the way the animals say each letter to the fact that the town tune changes every hour to the over 50 K.K. Slider songs you can unlock (each of which features an absolutely AWESOME vocalized rendition by K.K. when he plays it) add up to make the music and sound in Animal Crossing great.

Ingenuity: 8.0
Animal Crossing was an incredibly unique game for it’s time. Even now, it plays like a totally unique hybrid of Harvest Moon and The Sims. And although it may not seem original to cross the two, it turns out to be original due to how unique the game is. It truly is like nothing else out there, which is why it’s almost impossible to classify the game. If that’s not ingenuity, I don’t know what is. The sum is indeed great than it’s parts, but when you add it all up, Animal Crossing is one heck of a unique, if not innovative, product.

Replay Value: 10
Something new everyday. Need I say more? This is a game that you can literally play everyday of every year, and yet still miss out on something. Ingenious, simply ingenious.

Published on December 8th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Ghostbusters game trailer touts Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis and Hudson


The Video Game HD Screenshot

A new Ghostbusters: The Video Game trailer along with new screenshots has been released by Atari, who will publish the game on six systems (Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PC and DS) in 2009. Note that the Wii and PS2 version will feature more cartoony looking graphics and characters due to the lack of HD graphics.

The Video Game on PS3Developed by Terminal Reality, who worked closely with Sony Pictures Consumer Products, Inc., the game will be released to coincide with the 25th anniversary celebration of the original film’s theatrical release with a completely new story that re-unites the original cast members from the film (complete with their voice acting and in-game likeness) in a sequel (Ghostbusters 3, if you will) that seeks to recapture the unique blend of humor, fright and action that established Ghostbusters as one of the most popular and recognizable pop culture sensations in history.

Here is an all-new trailer for the game.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game is penned by the original writers of Ghostbusters, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd and re-unites the original film’s cast, for the first time in 20 years, in Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson with a storyline that takes place two years after the Ghostbuster II film. The game even features fan favorites such as William Atherton (Walter Peck), Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz) and Brian Doyle-Muray (Mayor Jock Mulligan).

Sony will also be releasing the two movies on Blu-ray disc for the first time in celebration of it’s anniversary.

Best games of 2008 X-Play Award nominees


X-Play Best of 2008 Awards

X-Play will have their annual Best Games of 2008 Awards on Tuesday, December 9th at 8:00 PM Eastern/Pacific time on G4.

X-Play is the most watched videogame series on TV and has announced the nominees for it’s various award categories for the Sixth Annual Best of 2008 Awards. The categories cover over 20 different sections including Most Original Game, Best Strategy Game, Best New Character and Best Sound Design.

The categories have also been expanded this year to cover some all new ground. These include: Best New Downloadable Game, Best Racing Game, Best Music/Rhythm Game, Best Handheld and Best MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online Game).

The special episode of the awards will take viewers through each category, revealing the winners and explaining in detail exactly why each game won. It will culminate finally in the highly coveted Game of the Year Award, where players can watch with anticipation in finding out which of this years heavy-hitters will win it all.

Fallout 3 (screenshot) is one of this year's biggest games

Will it be Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic epic Western RPG Fallout 3? How about the intense sequel to one of the Xbox 360’s best games in Gears of War 2?

Or Valve’s latest innovative shooter, the zombie-packed Left 4 Dead? EA’s first foray into the first-person adventure genre with the acrobatic action game Mirror’s Edge? And there’s many others as well, from Will Wright’s latest opus, the creature-building Sims-follow-up Spore to EA’s first gory survival horror game Dead Space to Rockstar and Take Two’s latest epic open-world crime game Grand Theft Auto IV. And don’t forget about Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Wii Fit, Mario Kart Wii and big DS and PSP titles like God of War: Chains of Olympus, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and Professor Layton and the Curious Village. There’s lots to choose from and all the awards this year should be really interesting.

“It seems commonplace to expect and find every year to improve on the one before,” says Adam Sessler, Host and Managing Editor, “X-Play.” “But the level of sophistication and depth found in 2008’s standout titles are truly extraordinary.”

“Every year, it gets tougher and tougher to pick the winners,” says Morgan Webb, Host, “X-Play.” “This year was no exception and we had to really challenge ourselves to whittle down the list of nominees to come up with the best of the best.”

The Complete List of “X-Play Best of 2008″ categories and nominees include:

Game of the Year

* Fable 2
* Fallout 3
* Gears of War 2
* Grand Theft Auto IV
* Left 4 Dead
* Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
* Resistance 2

Most Original Game

* Boom Blox
* Braid
* LittleBigPlanet
* Mirror’s Edge
* No More Heroes
* The World Ends With You

Best Gameplay Innovation

* “Level creation/sharing” – LittleBigPlanet
* “AI Director” – Left 4 Dead
* “Objective-based multiplayer” – Resistance 2
* “Voice command” – Tom Clancy’s EndWar
* “Right stick combat” – Too Human
* “Public quests” – Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

Best Multiplayer Game

* Gears of War 2
* Left 4 Dead
* Madden NFL 09
* Resistance 2
* Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
* Too Human

Best Action/Adventure Game

* Dead Space
* God of War: Chains of Olympus
* Grand Theft Auto IV
* No More Heroes
* Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Best Sports Game

* FIFA 09
* Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds
* NBA 2K9
* NHL 09
* Madden NFL 09

Best Shooter

* Call of Duty: World at War
* Far Cry 2
* Gears of War 2
* Left 4 Dead
* Resistance 2

Best RPG

* Fable 2
* Fallout 3
* Persona 4
* Tales of Vesperia
* The World Ends With You

Best New Character

* The dog – Fable 2
* Niko Bellic – Grand Theft Auto IV
* Sackboy – LittleBigPlanet
* Drebin 893 – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
* Travis Touchdown – No More Heroes

Best Art Direction

* Fable 2
* Fallout 3
* Far Cry 2
* LittleBigPlanet
* Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
* Prince of Persia

Best Animation

* Grand Theft Auto IV
* Left 4 Dead
* NBA 2K9
* Madden NFL 09
* Prince of Persia
* Resistance 2

Best Writing

* Grand Theft Auto IV
* Fable 2
* Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
* No More Heroes
* The Witcher: Enhanced Edition

Best Original Soundtrack

* Gears of War 2
* Mirror’s Edge
* Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
* No More Heroes
* Resistance 2

Best Sound Design

* Battlefield: Bad Company
* Condemned 2: Bloodshot
* Dead Space
* Fable 2
* Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Best Downloadable Content

* Burnout Paradise – bikes/map expansion
* Call of Duty 4 – maps
* Rock Band 2 – DLC songs
* Team Fortress 2 – class upgrades
* Warhawk – PSN expansions

Best New Downloadable Game

* Bionic Commando Rearmed
* Braid
* Geometry Wars 2
* Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty
* Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
* World of Goo

Best Strategy Game

* Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
* Galactic Civilizations 2: Twilight of the Arnor
* Sins of a Solar Empire
* Tom Clancy’s EndWar
* Valkyria Chronicles

Best Racing Game

* Burnout Paradise
* Mario Kart Wii
* MotorStorm: Pacific Rift
* Pure

Best Music/Rhythm Game

* Audiosurf
* Guitar Hero: Aerosmith
* Guitar Hero World Tour
* Patapon
* Rock Band 2

Best Handheld Game

* Chrono Trigger DS
* God of War: Chains of Olympus
* Patapon
* Professor Layton and the Curious Village
* The World Ends With You

Best M-M-O

* Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures
* Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
* World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

Published on December 6th, 2008 under , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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