It's Like Crack

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!

currently playing: Johnny Boy - Wall Street

YEAH! YEAH!

I’m almost afraid to listen to it.

Tell me what you gonna do!

Johnny Boy - You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve (.zip of the album sitting on my USB key right now)

The Brits: Rocking In A Mastercard-Sponsored Manner

Erm…where’s Girls Aloud, lads?

(and as said before, if Paul Weller sings My Ever Changing Moods at the Brits, I’ll forgive him for most of the last decade. The cover of Wishing On A Star is not included in this deal)

currently playing: Saturday Looks Good To Me – Girl Of Mine

The Sorting Hat!

Mum makes the best cakes!

Labour: WE ARE THE LAW

Who’s up for a spot of being evicted from your own residence? Huzzah!

(Meanwhile, David Cameron picks up more Labour policies. Gotta Catch ‘Em All!)

Faith in the British political system is close to breaking point right now…

(I promise to get back to you tomorrow, Richard!)

currently playing: Tommy february6 – Koi wa Nemuranai

MacBook? Ewww!

Many of you know about my Apple habit. This year is the first time where I’ve been able to watch a MacWorld, and have the money to do something more than gaze lovingly. My credit cards have been cowering in fear.

They have survived for another day, however. All the rumours indicated that Apple were going to update their iBook and Mac mini lines with Intel chips, but what we got was a new iMac, and a new PowerBook (I refuse to call it a MacBook, as that just sounds stupid). I suppose it makes sense, as if you stuck Core Duo chips into the iBook or Mac mini, they’d out perform pretty much all of Apple’s PowerPC range, which would cripple their sales while they were working on updating the rest of the line.

While I was a little disappointed, Apple has made up for it with their new power supply. So clever!

So rest easy, credit cards! You live to fight another day!

Tomorrow: the beginning of a short series (well, you better hope it’s short, really): The Animal Crossing Diaries!

currently playing: The Gossip – Listen Up!

Hello, Control!

Firstly, a happy 21st birthday to Bonnie, Queen of The Couch!

There is a God!

But he has a sick sense of humour (take your pick - the Boyzone reunion, or the My Life Story reunion!)

Beware, for I will probably start talking about this in a few days.

Aww. Rupert Murdoch. Fair and balanced as ever.

This site, tomorrow evening. OH YES. Mmmm. Apple.

Analogue Devices

Rule 1 of poll-based charts: Fans of Norwegian bands are to be feared and respected, lest they unleash their might forces against you.

currently playing: ABC – Many Happy Returns

ANNOYING!

Why did they have to get somebody who I’d like to watch? grumbles about work

currently playing: Lisa Loeb – It’s Over

Doin' The Do!

She’s baaaaaack!

(Daphne & Celeste are also planning a 2006 return as well!)

currently playing: Stars – Counting Stars On The Ceiling