Friday, April 14, 2006

Byte: You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave

I've just finished writing my Animal Crossing: Wild World review for Pro-G, and I have to say, it's probably the game I've found the hardest to review. It's the Hotel California of videogames; hence the strap line. It's one of those titles that gets under your skin. You can stop playing it, but it never truly leaves you, because you know that whilst the DS is turned off, weeds are growing in your garden, Blathers is craving more exhibits and secretly snoozing in the foyer of the museum, Tom Nook is planning your next house expansion and mortgage, and your neighbours are wondering where the hell you got to.

It's a game world that you can easily lose yourself in, and of all the videogames I've ever played, nothing has ever made me form attachments to NPCs like this has. I use the line in the review that Animal Crossing is "not so much a game as a way of life". That's how I feel about it, and I can understand when Charles from NTSC-UK tells me that he knows people on his forum that have played Animal Crossing on the Gamecube EVERY DAY since it came out in 2001. All those Animal Crossing threads on State are forgiven now. I UNDERSTAND. Four years late, as usual, but you should know that's par for the course with me by now. I'm glad I never did get around to banning people for posting Animal Crossing threads now...

The other thing of note that happened today: I had my first mountain bike ride of the year. Well, after spending nearly an hour stripping the front brake to bits and replacing the threaded bolt on the handlebar assembly that maintains the tension in the brake cable, anyway. Just as well I hadn't quite gotten around to chucking out my old bike, as I filtched the replacement parts off that, since the bolt had stripped its thread, leaving my front brake flapping around like a goose on acid, making it a little bit dangerous to ride.

Once that was done, I did my usual five mile cross-country ride, which may have been a little bit ambitious, given that I hadn't pedalled a wheel in around five months and my calorific regime in the meantime would probably rival that of a Sumo wrestler's. Still, the fact that I'm sitting here typing means that I AM NOT DEAD, which is quite an achievement, I feel. That bloody hill doesn't get any easier, though. Nearly a mile uphill at 1 in 5, steepening to 1 in 3 for the last hundred and fifty metres or so. I almost was getting outrun by gastropods over the final twenty metres, but I'm proud to say that I didn't stop or get off and push. So there may be hope for me yet...
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