There's no enemy to overcome, no goal to achieve in Animal Crossing: Wild World. You wake up, do some chores and talk to villagers. That's it. Why it's fun we can't exactly say, but the staggering amount of personalization makes it easy to get sucked up in this super cute world. Right from the start you're given a town. Everyone's village has the same structures but a unique set of townspeople; talking to your neighbors brings you closer and often nets cool items and clues you in to what adorable animals do all day.
And it really is what they do in the day that makes them interesting. Wild World uses the DS' internal clock to keep accurate, real world time. Tom Nook's supermarket closes at 11 every night, the town bell rings on the hour and special events happen on certain days only. You'll have to balance that pesky "other" life with this virtual one or your town will suffer. Animals won't live in a town full of weeds and unhappy commoners.
With Wild World, you can hop online and visit anyone at anytime. This requires the visitor to input a "Friend Code" so no unsavory strangers come sneaking into your little world. Obtaining these codes has to be done personally via some means of real-world communication - in other words, there is no in-game method for sending someone your Friend Code. That is, unless they're standing right in front of you in the real world, in which case local wireless play avoids the Friend Code rule and lets you visit another player's town much more easily.
Visiting towns lets you trade furniture, clothes, or any of the 600 other items in the game. You can leave messages on their town board or join in on some laid back fishing ... all manner of lazy day activities. Online prospectors have already worked out daily chore schedules with other players, effectively creating an employer/employee atmosphere.
Other than the addition of online play, this idea's been done before (on the GameCube) and guess what? It's mostly been done better. The game doesn't look or run as smooth as the GameCube version and overall this is basically the same game we played in 2002. The furry/scaly/slimy inhabitants of your town never visit the museum, coffee shop or any of the buildings. There should be a better sense of community, not more regurgitated dialogue and fossil hunting. And what's with the fish? The damn things swim right along the shore, often too close to cast a reel before they change position again.
The move to DS almost necessitates use of the touch screen, but Wild World has GameCube genes and doesn't use it as effectively as it could. For example, anytime you want to switch items (shovel, butterfly net, etc.) you have to pause, select the item and drag it over to the "equip" slot. There are no quick-equip buttons to skip this. Meanwhile the game continues on the top screen while you're slogging through the menu. Why not leave gameplay on top and menus on the bottom? Boom, instant access to inventory.
Still, most Crossing fans won't mind the clunky interface or the lack of other upgrades because there's so much inherent charm seeping through the DS' screens and speakers. Judging by its instant and enduring popularity, hardly anyone else cares what a rehash it is. Fire this one up and prepare to ignore that boring everyday chore we call real life.