As we wander to the cultural centre of the village, we're surprised at how well the game holds up. Once you adjust to the framerate, Wild World hasn't aged too badly at all. Sure, visually it's a bit ragged, and we're not sure how we ever managed with an inventory this small, but the core experience is the same old solid game, and the character dialogue is up there with the latest entry.
Blathers accepts the package and tells us about a shady character who came to the café selling insurance. We decide to drop in on Brewster for a damn fine cup of Joe (a bit acidic, but strangely refreshing). We're sure he'll return again soon in New Horizons.
We peruse the exhibits while we're there - two spaces for paintings are still vacant. Shocker! The New Horizons museum knocks this one's socks off in every respect.
Tom Nook and co.
Next up, we check out Nookington's department store. It's certainly a step up from the modest Nook's Cranny that Timmy & Tommy are running back on our Switch island.
Tom Nook's there in his business suit looking far more dapper than he does in shorts and sandals. He's buying turnips for 39 bells today. Yeah, jog on, Nook.
Timmy and Tommy are very excited about today's special item: a white bishop chess piece. We decline the invitation to add it to our catalogue. Probably got it already, anyway.
Having wandered the entire village, everything is looking surprisingly good! If we spent some time (okay, a lot of time) pulling up the weeds and picking up the rotten acorns, it would be a pleasant place to live. Still, we haven't ventured inside our house yet (beyond the bedroom in the start-up menu); it's time to see how we left the old drum.
We walk into a mess of items strewn across the floor and bugs scuttling around. Our main room has a vague Egyptian temple theme, no doubt to appease the H.R.A., and the adjoining rooms are similarly haphazard: a Mush room and something that's supposed to be a garden. We've never had much natural flair when it comes to interior design, mainly because we're such hoarders that it's tough to get something coherent going. Out second floor mad scientist’s lab isn’t bad, though.
Every table in the house is covered with turnips. Placing the vegetables off the floor prevented them from rotting in this game, and we've got dozens of the things in perfect condition, ready to sell when Nook will pay more than 39 Bells a pop.
With the house ticked off the list, there's only one thing — one person — left to see on this nostalgia trip.
Waiting for Angus
Angus has always been our favourite villager. He's haughty and difficult, belligerent, even, but also loveable and he struck a chord when we met him years ago. We couldn't leave without saying 'hi, macmoo'.
However, Angus isn't up yet. So, we wait. 7 AM, 8 AM, 9 AM, but still no sign. "I'm catching some z´s now. Wake me and REGRET IT!" reads the sign outside his house. We chat to other people, waiting patiently...
Finally, at 10 AM his front door unlocks and I let myself in. Angus is typically grumpy, but we're confused when he enquires how we knew he'd moved here. What's he talking about? Angus has always lived in Dibly... hasn't he?
Chastised and disheartened, we leave his house and begin looking through the ten (!) letters we carry on our person. We find missives from residents long gone, including Roald (Roald!), Gaston, Pecan, and two from Angus himself.
The first is an invite to his birthday party on 30th April - 'come to my place for cake and some sad jazz music'. No wonder we love him.
The second is a note informing us that he's off:
It seems that Angus moved out once before, and then somehow returned? We've completely blanked on this fact. We'd forgotten that our very favourite villager had packed bags on us and sent a snarky farewell note.
Was this some form of selective memory? Have we just got old and started reminiscing about the good old days, misremembering events and sweeping any unpleasantries under the mental carpet?
Who can say? All we know is that Angus moved out... and then moved back again. That's something, at least. Angus doesn't believe that fool Jack Reacher or whoever it was who said "Never go back". Then again, Angus doesn't pay much attention to anybody. He's a moody git.
Life goes on
Ultimately, heading back to our Wild World town reinforced the subtle, simulated truths that Animal Crossing has always dabbled in. In our absence, life just keeps rolling on; we're really not all that important. Our being away didn't stop Dibly. It's still there waiting for us, and although the faces might change (or mysteriously return), the seasons still come and go and there's always something happening.
Of course, Animal Crossing: Wild World isn't perfect, and in a straight contest against New Horizons, there's no question as to which is the superior game. However, Wild World is packed with personality and that ages very well indeed.
If you've got an Animal Crossing town on an old console, we recommend dropping by the old place. Let us know below how long it has been since you last visited, and if you return, tell us how it — and you — are holding up.