Game Diary - November 13, 2008: I'm Terrible At 'Animal Crossing'

'Animal Crossing: City Folk'Animal Crossing," like "Madden" is one of the series I'd like to like, but I never feel like I'm playing it well.

With "Madden" my problem is that I fumble the controller.

With "Animal Crossing," I have trouble identifying goals and understanding that I'm playing it successfully.

Last night I started "Animal Crossing: City Folk." In the early going, the game is almost identical to the DS version, "Animal Crossing: Wild World," which I played on and off for about a month a couple of years ago. In the beginning of "City Folk" you are restricted to a forest village, working off a debt to local shopkeeper Tom Nook. Access to the game's new city section and the features one can access there, like the ability to put your Mii face on your character, are, initially, inaccessible. The city is off-limits until Nook's debt is reconciled, I believe.

So at the start, I can only play "City Folk" as successfully -- or as poorly -- as I played "Wild World." I need to talk to townspeople (townsanimals?). I need to get a shovel or bug net or fishing rod to dig, trap and catch. I need to collect seashells, and I guess I should start sending letters. But none of those activities ever felt quite right to me in previous "Animal Crossing"s. I consistently felt like I was missing something.

There are few video game concepts I find more appealing than that of a game that has something new to see and do every day of the year. Like I said at the top, I want to like "Animal Crossing," but I've never figured out how to have fun with it. Maybe I just need some tips about how to get the most of an experience like this. (And maybe I don't need an early copy of "Left 4 Dead" distracting me!)

Next: Either I'm testing Wii Speak with a certain Nintendo super-blogger tonight. Or I'm finishing "Mirror's Edge."