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Animal Crossing - Wild World

These notes apply to the Nintendo game "Animal Crossing - Wild World" as played on a Nintendo DS Lite. There are many other sites that contain detailed information about Animal Crossing; this page is offered as a very simple overview and set of suggestions for enjoyable game play.

Overview

Animal Crossing is a cute little virtual world wherein your character interacts with shopkeepers, goes fishing, collects fruit, digs up fossils, and does all manner of other fun things. It's the most relaxing game I've ever played; the worst thing that ever goes wrong is that sometimes your character gets stung by bees while shaking trees. The bee stings are comical, not fatal, and there are no time limits, jangling theme songs, or enemies in the game. You collect fruit, fish, insects, and fossils to sell, and you can use that money to expand your house, buy clothes and furniture, or just drink coffee in the coffee shop. You can donate items to the museum, get a haircut, make snowmen, and just play around.

Getting Started

When you first start the game, you find yourself working for Tom Nook, the proprietor of the little shop. He will give you a series of tasks to complete, none of which take more than a few minutes each. The purpose of this initial scripted play is to familiarize you with the various ways you'll be interacting with the elements and characters in the game. Be patient - after you've jumped through the initial hoops, you'll go into free play mode and you can do just about whatever you want.

Your House

You start out in a tiny little hut, and you soon realize that you haven't got enough room in your house to display all the treasures you have accumulated. Go out and earn money, then go to the town hall and pay down your loan. When you pay the loan off, Tom Nook will offer to expand your house - accept the offer, and your house will be bigger the next day. The first few expansions of your ground floor are relatively inexpensive, but when you get to the point of adding a second floor and additional rooms off the first floor, you start to see some pretty big loan balances. Don't stress out - just peck away at the loans as you can.

Dressers, Cabinets, and Closets

One of the first pieces of furniture you're going to want to buy from Tom Nook is a cabinet, closet, refrigerator, or anything else that opens up and lets you store things inside. This is one of the strangest things about the game - the dresser is not an actual object like a lamp or a table, really, but it's more like an access mechanism to your character's storage space. If you've got a dresser in your room and you put things in it and then you go and open the refrigerator, you'll see the same six 'drawers' that you see when you open your dresser. With six drawers of space, a dresser can be a very handy thing - but buying two dressers won't give you twice the storage space. I would bet that you could buy a dresser, fill it up with stuff, sell the dresser, buy another cabinet, open it up, and see all your stuff still there, but that's not an experiment I have tried. If you have multiple player characters set up in your AC game, each one has his own personal storage space - that is, things you put in the dresser as player A are not accessible to player B.

Catching Fish

It's quick and easy to make money gathering and selling fruit, but the real way to make a killing is by catching fish. Some fish fetch huge sums of money - for example, the coelocanth and stringfish types sell for $15,000 apiece. I have found that the easiest way to catch fish is to cast the lure with the stylus and then use my thumb on the A button to snatch the fish out of the water. Using this approach, you can drop the lure right in front of the fish and spend less time casting over and over and waiting for the fish to take the bait.

When you are fishing, walk - do not run. If you run right up to the bank, you may scare the fish away.

Fruit Trees

Your town has a 'native' fruit tree type that is established when you create the town, and you've probably got a couple of dozen or more of this type of tree. The fruit from your native trees sells for $100 each, and you can make a nice bundle every few days by shaking the fruit trees and selling the fruit to Tom Nook.

There are actually several different kinds of fruit trees available in the game, however, and all of these 'exotic' fruit types sell for $500 apiece instead of the basic $100 you get for the fruit that is common in your town. To really make serious money from fruit, you need to acquire and cultivate a lot of 'exotic' fruit in your town.

There are a couple of ways to acquire exotic fruit. One of the simplest ways to do it is to send letters containing little meaningless presents to the characters in your town. Go down to the beach and pick up some cheap seashells, for example, and enclose them in letters sent to your townspeople. Your pen pals will send you a reply that includes a present, and often that present will be a type of fruit that doesn't grow in your town. You can also carry fruit from one town to another when you connect two AC towns via the wireless interface.

Fruit planted in bare dirt is not guaranteed to grow into a successful fruit tree. If the planted sapling has not shown growth the day after you planted it, it will probably not grow at all. You can guarantee tree growth by chopping down an existing tree, digging up the stump, and planting the fruit in the hole left by the stump. This is highly recommended when you have only one exotic fruit in hand - like when a townsperson sends you one in a letter. Once you've got a few trees growing the exotic fruit, you can afford to gamble on planting new trees in open space.

I heard somewhere that the ground under weeds is fertile, also - supposedly, digging up weeds and planting fruit in the hole guarantees growth. I have tried this a couple of times without success, so I recommend using the 'tree replacement' method for guaranteed growth.

Once you have a few trees of exotic fruit in your town, wait until your native trees bear fruit - they'll typically all bear at the same time, and then it's easy to tell the native fruit trees from the other trees. Chop down a bunch of the native fruit trees and plant exotic fruit trees in their place - this way, you're simply replacing one fruit tree with another whose fruit is five times more valuable. Expanding your exotic fruit production this way gives you the benefit of guaranteed growth with the bonus of knowing that you're not cutting down trees at random without knowing what they produce.

When you're working to establish new fruit trees, you'll quickly find that your fruit trees produce fruit at different times due to differences in planting times and tree maturity. You may find it handy during these efforts to leave one fruit at the base of each fruit tree as a marker - then, you will be able to tell what type of fruit each tree bears even if there is no fruit on the tree at the moment.

Fossils

From time to time, you will dig up fossils. These must be taken to the museum for identification, after which you have the option of donating the fossil to the museum (if a fossil of that particular type has not already been donated) or keeping it for yourself. Fossils are usually quite valuable, but it is nice to see them displayed in the museum, too. Although your fossils appear in Tom Nook's catalog, you cannot order fossils - the fossil section of the catalog is apparently just a checklist of all the fossils you have discovered.

Coconut Trees

Coconut trees, palm trees - whatever you want to call them, they're valuable resources. Coconut trees bear two coconuts every few days, and the coconuts sell for $500 apiece. Watch for a coconut to wash up on your beach, and then bury it in the dark-colored ground adjacent to the sand on the beach. Once your first coconut tree has borne fruit, plant those coconuts along the beach, and soon you can have a dozen coconut trees cranking out $1000 worth of fruit each every few days. Note: coconut trees will not grow anywhere besides the ground adjacent to the beach.

Snowmen

If there is snow on the ground, you will occasionally see snowballs. Roll a snowball around on the snow, and it will get bigger. Once you've made your first snowball as big as it will get, look for another snowball. Roll it around until it is somewhat smaller than the first snowball, then combine the two snowballs to make a snowman. If you get the size ratio right between the first and second snowball, the snowman will send you a piece of furniture in the mail that you cannot get anywhere else. If you foul up the sizes of the snowballs, the snowman will still talk to you (usually to complain about his deformity), but he won't send you anything in the mail.

Savings Account Interest

Rather than pay down a loan in small increments, some people like to accumulate money in the Post Office savings account and pay off the loan in one lump sum. Since interest does not accumulate on loans, this is certainly a viable option - and the savings account does earn interest, after all.

To study the process of earning interest, I deposited $50,000 on February 28 and let it sit in the account overnight, having read elsewhere that interest is calculated at the end of the month. On the morning of March 1, I received this letter: "Thank you for using your post office bank account. You earned 250 Bells for 30 days of interest." When I checked my account balance, I saw $50,250.

Based on this experiment, I drew the following conclusions:

  • Interest is calculated overnight on the last day of the month, as I had been told.
  • The interest calculation assumes that the entire account balance sat in the bank for the previous month (as opposed to some fancy 'average daily balance' or daily compound interest calculation). I base this conclusion on the '30 days of interest' part of the letter I received - that $50,000 certainly did not sit in the account for 30 days.
  • At an interest rate of half a percent, the Post Office savings account is not the path to riches. If you happen to have a pocketful of money at the end of the month, you can certainly park it in the account overnight and pick up a little extra cash for free - but since $50,000 yields only enough interest income to buy a cup of coffee and $50 change, it's barely worth the effort.

Wish Upon A Star

If you've walked around at night when the stars are out, you've probably noticed an occasional shooting star flying by overhead. Shooting stars appear as a bright streak across the sky, accompanied by a distinctive sound.

If your hands are empty (that is, you're not carrying anything like a shovel or a fishing rod) and you're quick, you can press the A button to make a wish when a shooting star is overhead. If you do this successfully, the shooting star will grow much bigger and brighter and will twinkle. After making a wish, you'll get a letter the next day that contains a present. Here's a letter I received:

Earthbound Gibbs,
I heard a special someone make a wish one night...
It's my job to make that wish come true...
From Wishy the Star
The present that came with this letter was a Modern Cabinet. On the night that I first wished upon a shooting star, I actually managed to make a wish six different times, but apparently the correspondence from Wishy the Star is limited to one per day.

Dr. Shrunk and Facial Expressions

If you encounter Dr. Shrunk wandering around your town, engage him in conversation. He'll have a "session" with you about the importance of expressing your emotions, and then he'll teach you to express a particular feeling like shyness, love, and so on. To express your new emotions, bring up the keyboard screen (the one that lets you type messages into little text bubbles on the screen) and look for new buttons above the top row of the keyboard.

Dr. Shrunk appears only occasionally, and you can learn only one new expression per day.

Pascal the Otter

Once in a great while, you may encounter Pascal. He'll be standing on the jetty, looking out at the ocean. If you engage him in conversation, he'll tell you something strange and give you a gift.

The most interesting thing about this character is what he does after he's finished speaking - he does a backflip off the end of the jetty, lands in the ocean, and swims away.

Strategic Presents

If one of the townspeople has wallpaper, flooring, furniture, or anything else that you particularly like, send them a similar item in a letter. Then, watch the recycling bin in the town hall - chances are, you'll find that they replaced the item you admired with your gift and recycled the old item. Then, the item you wanted in the first place is yours for the taking from the recycle bin. Be sure to check the recycling schedule, though, to make sure the item you want doesn't get hauled off by the recyclers before you have a chance to fetch it.

Extra Pocket Space

When you receive letters, don't throw them away until you need to. You can drag and drop items from your pockets onto opened letters and leave them there, and this frees up space in your pockets. This extra carrying capacity comes in handy when you want to move a lot of fruit or other items from one town to another via the wireless connection. This trick works for any regular object that you can send through the mail.

Moving Fish Between Towns

Once, I found myself facing a particularly strange puzzle in Animal Crossing. I was playing the game on one DS, went to visit another town on another DS, and went down to the beach to fish. When I caught a coelocanth, everyone was excited, and I tried to donate the coelocanth to the museum. Since I was a visiting guest, I was unable to donate anything to the museum, so we were left with the problem of how to get the fish out of my hands and into the hands of the local residents.

Guests cannot drop items in residents' houses, and fish cannot be placed on the ground outside buildings. Fish cannot be sent through the mail, either. We puzzled over this problem for a while, and the best idea we could come up with was to wait until market day and try to have my character sell the coelocanth to a resident of the other town so that the resident could donate the fish after returning home.

Finally, we hit upon a solution that let us move the fish from one town to another without waiting for market day (which may or may not have worked anyway). A resident of my town emptied her dresser drawers into the house, picked up the coelocanth, and actually moved from my town to the other town. Minutes after moving in, she donated the coelocanth to the museum in the other town and then moved straight back to my town. After picking up all her scattered possessions and putting them back in her dresser, everything was back to normal. It is likely that this character lost her 'relationship' data with regard to the other characters in the town, but this particular character has been wiped out and rebuilt a few times anyway and persistent relationship data was not an issue.

If you find yourself in the unlikely scenario of needing to move fish between towns, I recommend creating a throwaway player character that can serve as a courier.

Houses and Signposts

As you walk through your town, you'll notice signposts that display informative notices and tips. The signposts serve another role that is slightly less obvious - they mark the spots where houses may be built by other non-player characters in the game. When a new resident moves into your town and builds a house, the house will take the place of one of the signposts. Likewise, when a resident moves away, the resident's house will be replaced by a signpost.

I have a signpost in my town that is really close to the beach, and I was irritated when a new resident built a house there. After the resident moved away, I tried to dig up and chop down the signpost, but that was not allowed.

After you have read the signposts, their primary function is to remind you not to plant trees in that area. The appearance of a new house will wipe out any tree that is in the way.

Other References

Wikipedia has pages for Animal Crossing, including a list of characters. The Animal Crossing Community site is quite nice, too - but be sure to distinguish between the original Animal Crossing game and Animal Crossing Wild World when looking through the site. There are differences in the two games (the set of fish is bigger in the Wild World version, for example).


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