The first time I heard about this game was on an Animal Crossing forum; people there were quite excited about it in the run up to its release. Likewise, I thought the concept was interesting, and was looking forward to playing it.
When I first got the game, unusually for me, I read the game booklet first! This was because I had to go and wait in a long queue and decided it would look bad for me to actually start playing my DS, as I am supposedly a grown up, after all, but that I could probably get away with reading a little game booklet without anyone noticing.
Bizarrely, the booklet is simply snippets a game review with pictures, no actual instructions on how to play, or controls, or anything like that. The text refers to Animal Crossing a lot, claiming "this is like Animal Crossing but with more to do".
The game really does seem like another Animal Crossing, although I'm open minded as to whether this is a good or a bad thing at the moment!
Curiosity got the better of me, and I decided there was no other way to really find out about the game than to play it myself, so I set about enrolling in the School of Wizardry as soon as possible.
During the first couple of hours of play I've managed to learn the controls for the game; there is some in-game tuition for this, which is good. I've sat in the classroom for a few lessons, and decided that it won't be too difficult to be the Hermione Granger of the class, as I seem to get asked all the comprehension questions at the end of the lesson - luckily they haven't been too challenging so far!
I've been directed to my dorm room, and also chatted with a fair few of my fellow students, explored the grounds of the school and visited the shops as well. I found a helpful dorm room monitor, Reginald, and gave him the Spanish Inquisition on every option available in order to learn as much as possible. I'm even taking notes! There is definitely a lot to take in, at first, although you can go back and replay any lesson later so don't worry too much - I've already had to do this!
The game really does seem like another Animal Crossing, although I'm open minded as to whether this is a good or a bad thing at the moment! Conversations with other characters don't seem quite as fluid, and certainly the game graphics aren't quite as good, but otherwise there are many striking similarities, such as fishing, bug collecting, gardening, a fashion design area, little tune composer, etc.. Also the game is played in real time according to the DS clock, which again is similar to Animal Crossing.
There are many striking similarities, such as fishing, bug collecting, gardening, a fashion design area, little tune composer
The only downside of the game so far is that there doesn't seem to be an option to turn the speech 'babble' off, as there is in Animal Crossing - to me it's unnecessary noise and I wish I could have the option for silent speech. It would stop the other Mums in the swimming pool waiting room from giving me quite such odd looks - maybe?! Using headphones gets you just as many strange looks, I find! I think the Other Mums must keep their gaming habits more secret than I do, but that's another story!
Despite the obvious similarities to a game that I know very well, the first foray into School life has left me wanting to play more; so far I've learnt the basic theory behind spells and incantations but not actually learned how to cast any, so I'm looking forward to the next few lessons and seeing how my first week in Magic School actually goes.