What wonders will Animal Crossing Wii bring?

With the straight from the horse’s (mule’s?) mouth confirmation that Animal Crossing Wii will be unveiled next week during E3, it seems as ripe of a time as any to do a bit of speculation as to what the new entry into the Animal Crossing series will bring to the table. We’ll break it down into what we know, what we think we know and what we want the game to have but probably won’t.

The certain:

WiiConnect24 Support. Katsuya Eguchi, lead developer for Animal Crossing Wii, made it fairly clear in a 2007 interview that Animal Crossing Wii will feature some interesting¬† uses of WiiConnect24. For instance, players would be able to visit the towns of friends even while their friends are not playing, allowing them to leave presents and, potentially, a plethora of pitfalls. But that’s not all Eguchi had in mind, “Another application might be someone could send a letter from their cellphone or from an email address on a PC to the Wii, and then the player living in the town in Animal Crossing could receive that letter.”

Wii remote Fishing/Bug Catching/Tree-Chopping/Fossil Shoveling. In an interview with IGN, Eguchi mused over the potential to use the Wii remote¬† to control all of the standard Animal Crossing tools, “With regard to the controller, basically it could become potentially your axe, your shovel and your fishing rod.”

So consider Wii remote functionality pretty much in.

The Possible:

Localized Weather/Weather Channel Support. Envision a situation where its snowing outside your window. You boot up your Wii and copy of Animal Crossing and – what do you know! – it’s snowing in your town as well. This feature could do a lot to make each town more unique from day to day, adding another layer of variety. Of course, if you happen to live in an area with an inordinate amount of meteorological monotony, you might not be as excited about a feature like this. The key, of course, would be for Nintendo to figure out how to make things as balanced for as many people as possible.

Mii Support. A flagship Nintendo title that doesn’t allow players to use their Miis is as unlikely as Microsoft making Windows open source. The rub lies in the fact that Nintendo might be hesitant to ditch the standard, beloved character models in favor of Miis. A compromise would have to be reached, with Nintendo possibly allowing both Miis and the classic ‘Crossers’ to be used.

Animal Crossing Wii: The MMO. Speculation from way back last year said that Animal Crossing would be going in the MMO direction, becoming a more social experience than previous titles. The game could feature a hub-like center, where players could meet, mingle, and share items and tips. Players could also send invitations to those they meet, inviting them to visit their towns. The possibilities are endless. (Of course, keep in mind that Iwata himself debunked that earlier this year. The rumor, of course, lives on.)

Microtransactions. With the Wii already equipped to process mircotransactions, it seems entirely likely that Nintendo will utilize the feature, seen recently in Square Enix’s Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King. Downloadable content in the form of furniture, special outfits, and other such upgrades is certainly possible. The question is whether players will have to pay for these new features. They won’t like it, to be sure, but that’s never stopped developers before. We also cannot rule out Animal Crossing Wii utilizing the recently-announced ‘Pay and Play‘ service.

More Life Simulation. In terms of genre, the Animal Crossing series is filed under ‘social simulation/life simulator.’ What better way to simulate life than by forcing players to take a steady job, force them to pay bills, and affording them a more varied range of illnesses? It might be a recipe for disaster, of course. After all, we play games to escape life, not recreate it, right? Considering the recent explosion of Nintendo-developed ‘non-games,’ it shouldn’t be all that surprising if Nintendo goes the route of recreating your real-world misery in Animal Crossing.

The Unlikely:

The End of Friend Codes. As much as Wii and DS owners would like to see Friend Codes retired, it’s unlikely that Nintendo will take that plunge, especially with a family-oriented title like Animal Crossing. It really would be public relations suicide for Nintendo to nix the idea of ‘protecting children from predators.’ So, for better or for worse, it would seem that Friend Codes are here to stay. Now, if Nintendo opened up the possibility of tying in the Friend Code system with the Wii’s built-in parental controls, allowing older players to disable Friend Codes on their consoles, Nintendo could find a desirable middle ground.

The Fanboy:

More shops! Gardening! Roads! Build houses! Play as an animal! Voice Chat! Swimming! Get married! Make babies!