With Animal Crossing, a series that started out on the Gamecube in 2002, Nintendo has a hugely popular hit series, with a very dedicated and ever growing fan base. The game is engaging, you can play it any way you see fit, you can pore your creativity in it and you can live your virtual life together with the animals in your town doing your everyday chores. It was the first game I seriously played with a vengeance, it got me hooked to gaming and still, to this day, I feel as if it’s one of the best series ever made. Not only because of the gameplay, but also because of the way they innovate every time they release a sequel.
I’ve always said that there’s no way that they can make a game that is as good and engaging for the iPad. Last week I saw a review about Castaway Paradise from a lady who had actually played and loved Animal Crossing herself, so I took note of what she wrote, and set off to investigate.
The game was in some app stores since late 2013, but with its release in the US recently it’s now available worldwide. It’s had its fair share of updates and things added for the past months now, so you can be fairly sure if you step in now, it’s going to be a nice and stable environment.
You are washed ashore on, you guessed it, an island, but at least you’re not alone. You are welcomed by the mayor, and after the kelp beard is taken off you your looks are revealed, dependent on whether you choose to be a girl or a boy. I haven’t seen anywhere yet to influence your looks, so I guess it’s pretty random. Don’t expect the smooth and cute graphics of AC, and you won’t be disappointed. It’s more blocky, and you control your character by sliding across the screen and tapping commands. Works fairly well too. You spend your first time on the island sleeping in a tent, tending flowers, picking apples, fishing, catching bugs ( hey, nobody said it would be frightfully original) and doing chores for the islanders. The bug catching isn’t easy by the way. I’m having a real hard time having the critters to sit still when I approach them with my net. They must know something about life as an imprisoned insect that I don’t know yet!
Here’s where it gets interesting: by earning money you can open new houses, you can sow and tend to crops, and you can even put items and furniture outside. Now that’s new! By building bridges (yep, more money involved) you can unlock new islands with new possibilities. Through its Facebook connection you can exchange gifts with your friends, and you can even post little video’s about your doings on the island. That last bit intrigues me, it uses KamCord gameplay, an app in which you can playback the video’s you’ve made of your progress. Nice!
The entire game, like most free app games, is based on patience, or spending real money if you’re short on that. Your watering can for instance only holds 20x water, and when it’s empty, you wait. Or you can buy pearls to speed things up, you can buy jewels to acquire special things, and when you are really chomping at the bit, you can sign up to be a VIP member for a set amount a month. VIP members get nice extras, like extra space in their house, they don’t have to look at the adds that they spring on you when you least expect it and special items. But, like I said, with patience, it’s free to play.
To tell you the truth, it’s no AC yet. But I wonder if there will ever be a game that matches up to AC. But that having been said it’s free, it’s on the go, you can play it with friends and it looks to be generally fun. And the team behind the game seems to have an open mind towards adding more to the game and expanding it. It has tons of items to collect, you can decorate your house, take care of an island, the islanders are adorable ( well, most of them anyway, except for Angus). The only thing you need is spare time, because just like AC, you will most certainly get drawn in! This might even be one of the first games that seduces me to spend money on like I’d do on my Nintendo games! Because if a game is good, an app game deserves it too!