I look in the mailbox to find a new letter from Margie. She's sent me a screen door. Maybe she thinks I've been changing in front of her too often. Not something I can fit in my house at the moment, and Tom Nook's shop is closed today for refurbishment. Typical, really, as I'm sure I would have been able to pay off my mortgage if he wasn't closed. I put the screen inside my snowman fridge for storage; I might send it to a villager in another town, sell it, or keep it for when I get another house. I write a thank-you letter for Margie, and head over to the post office to send it. On the way, I pass the snowman who gave me the fridge. He's in a bad way now; he's been getting smaller for days, but now he's about the size of a tennis ball. But he's still cheerful about life; I guess must snowmen know they're not here for very long, so they enjoy life while they can. On the way to the post office, I bump into Chow and Pattie. They're having a rather nasty argument over fossils. Chow has been a pain ever since he moved into Nustram; I've sent him letters asking him to be nicer to the other animals, but he won't stop being mean. I should do something about it. After I've posted the letter to Margie, I have a look at the bulletin board outside. Apparently it's La-Di-Dah day on Saturday, whatever that is (I ask Margie later, and she tells me that it's a contest; all the residents of the town compose a new theme song for the town (it's currently Blue Monday), and I have to choose which one I think is the best. Plenty of opportunity for new enemies there, then). There's also a fishing contest on Sunday, which I think I'll skip, as I haven't got the hang of fishing just yet. As Nook's Cranny is closed, I wander over to the Able Sisters's costume shop to see what new stock they have in. Chow snaps at Allie as she's walking past. Grr. Looking aorund the new clothes, I find a hockey mask. An evil plan forms in my head. An hour later, I grab my net from my house, stick on my hockey mask, and go Chow-hunting. I chase him all over the town, whacking him over and over. I think he got the message. Either that, or he'll move to another town soon. But it's getting late. A stranger has asked if she can visit later on, so I open the gates and watch the stars on the beach while I wait for her. My constellations drift by as the clouds disappear and the night sky turns blacker and blacker. Animal Crossing: Wild World is the gaming equivalent of the scene at the end of Toy Story 2, where the Barbie turns her head to show Prospector Pete that her owner is an artist. It is rainbow-hued, it is cute, it is sweet, it is twee; to be blunt, it is effectively an electronic version of having tea with your cuddly toys (those of you who want to strip Barbies naked and subject them to torture and humilation will have to wait a little longer for your fix). It's difficult to pin down just what makes the game so addictive; after all, it's a free-form affair without much to do except for dig for fossils, visit shops (and pay off your mortgage - capitalism exists even in Nintendo world sadly), go fishing, or write letters. Yet you soon become attached to the characters that live in your town; sure, none of them are going to pass the Turing Test, but even with their rather simplistic thought processes, they seem quite real. You find yourself writing a letter to an elephant, thanking her for her present, and telling her not to worry about the mean old panda around the corner. Yes, really. You can design your own clothes, and put them on display in the clothes shop. Characters will come in, buy your designs, and compliment you on your work. You can draw your own constellations in the sky, make up songs, and even create an emblem for the town (Nustram is currently using a 32x32 pixel replica of the Blue Monday 12" single). It's like that Barbie Fashion Wheel you always used to see on TV. But perhaps the greatest part about Animal Crossing: Wild World is the part I haven't really explorered yet. The Nintendo DS has an 802.11b adapter hidden inside it, and Animal Crossing takes advantage of this by allowing you to visit other people's towns. They may have different fruit there, different items in the shop, and of course, lots of different people living there. Actually getting to another town is a bit of a hassle (both users need the other's friend code to cross over), but when you do, it's magical - a whole new world of different characters to meet and greet. And yes, you can send them letters, and they might reply by sending mail right to your mailbox in your hometown. At this point, the game becomes viral; your characters may fancy life in towns that you've visited, and yes, they'll move to your friend's town, and you might get new arrivials from towns you visit. They don't forget you, though, and will often show their new user some of the letters you sent them. Your designs may travel from your shop to your friend's town and spread out all across the towns connected via the Internet. It's actually rather scary. My name is St. John. I live in Nustram, and my friend code is 2448-7607-5318. Come visit! Tonight, I'm going to pay off my mortgage and get a bigger house. Yeah! Yeah!