The property market is a Wild, Wild, Wild, Wild World

Animal Crossing: Wild World (2006)

Almost every bet or prediction I’ve ever made in my life has turned out to be a turkey, you know, which is why I don’t go to betting shops, I don’t play the lotto, and I certainly don’t eat Rowntrees Randoms. To wit, I’ve been predicting, or perhaps more accurately praying, for a drop in house prices for, oh, almost ten years. But oh no, every force in the housing market is out to get old Burkey, so up those houses go.

It’s not that I have to work so many hours a day to earn a living and pay for the house, which is galling enough. It’s the fact that I’ll have to either work for 35 more years just to stand a chance at paying the mortgage off, or I’ll actually have to try a leg and work harder to get better jobs and promotions. And even if I did the latter, where would my personal and social life be if I took a job with a rude wage? I’ve got appearances to keep up too, you know, many of them drunken in nature.

Is that enough woe-is-me and self-pity for you? No, but I’m serious here, the house prices are nuts. Gone are the days that one modest income could buy a decent house, and have it paid off in a dozen years en route to an early retirement and an appointment with the high horse. Now we’re talking about houses several times your combined salary, if you’re lucky enough to have someone to combine it with, that is. And you absolutely must buy a house, because there is no alternative.

Renting a house? You could try it, by all means, but the prices would make your eyes water. How come property prices never make your mouth water instead? Or make you dry your eyes in pleasant disbelief. How does at least 1500 per month for a badly antiquated house with several leaks and floors that are more silverfish than surface sound to you? And that’s 1500 if you’re lucky. Try the guts of two grand if you want a locale that ain’t swimming with teenage pondscum.

You might fancy a flat instead, because they’re greener, more centralised, and supposedly cheaper. Well they’re definitely a bit cheaper than houses, but you’re completely forgoing a front and back garden. Somewhat tempting I’ll admit, not having to cut the grass, but answer me this, family men: where are your eventual children gonna play? In the piss-soaked stairwell maybe, or the syringe-littered lift that’s long since given up the ghost?

And what happens if you get stung like Frank Grimes, sandwiched between two bowling alleys and hating life? You can’t choose your neighbours, true, but if you’ve got the means then you can at least choose a detached house, and not have to endure the hatchet faced woman in the upstairs apartment doing the Riverdance with her high heels. I can understand renting an apartment, but you should see some of the dives they try to spin out for 1350 a month. And it’s all supply and demand of course, some punters will pay four figures to stay in conditions that would have humbled Anne Frank.

You do see some funny ones being advertised, although funny’s not really the word. I don’t quite know what the exact word is, some combination of squalid, grim and depressing more like. I’ve borne witness to the most cramped room in Dublin, one which featured a dreadfully 1970s carpet as standard. But the health and safety was straight from the 1970s as well – the headboard of the single bed (of course – lay down a double bed and the “kitchenette” would have to go) was an honest-to-God fireplace.

Perhaps you could switch it on and peacefully commit suicide by boiling your head? Or you can enjoy a midnight snack of coal. And what happens at Christmas? I’m just picturing Santa coming down the chimney at speed, only to be headed off at the pass by your screaming face, like Homer Simpson when he was stuck in the waterslide.

There was another one I saw that just sent me into proper belly laughs – a toilet plonked right beside a sliding glass door. All the neighbours and wildlife get to see you pinching one off. How great is that?!? Shouldn’t you be the one getting paid for putting on a scat show like that?!

Let’s hope flamboyant faecal fiestas aren’t the order of the day in your Animal Crossing town, although it is startlingly commonplace to visit your fellow villagers houses and take a load off on their bogs. This is Animal Crossing: Wild World for DS. You know, I always have the Animal Crossing games down as megasellers, and I suppose they are, although it wasn’t until New Horizons that the series really went stratospheric. Still, the previous entries did their business as well (that’s enough poo jokes), and an Animal Crossing game on the DS was always gonna sell big.

It’s Animal Crossing in portable format, as well as online for the first time. That’s enough to make your mouth water, although what might make you tear up again is the fact that the old Nintendo online is dead, and this game’s claim to portable fame is old news. But what was Wild World like back in the day, when everyone was buying DSes and game prices hadn’t gone through the roof, way ahead of inflation? 

Well, it’s a bite-sized version of the N64 and later GameCube version of the game, but with even more stripped back graphics, if you can believe that. Actually what does annoy me about this game is the teensy tiny thin font when speaking with whatever ten villagers you are coerced into living with. Still, who talks to the neighbours in the days of internet and Netflix anyway?

You’re better off amusing yourself with those Animal Crossing staples that sound absolutely mule when written down but somehow become so compelling when you sit down and play them for yourself. A bit of fishing, a spot of bug catching, and generally running around your town like a headless chicken because you’ll always have something to do and somewhere to go, even in the dead of night.

The original Animal Crossing needed a console, a controller, a telly, some power (more than some apartments could offer). Wild World is the game you can take anywhere with you, or hide underneath your pillow when your mother came in. Running around in WW can make me nauseous though. I don’t know what it is, but the cylinder world in this game is a bit wild, which must be where the wild world comes from.

But what it’s all about, in the end of course is sourcing enough cash to pay off your mortgage, plus several extensions. Animal Crossing doesn’t have many goals, but this is the main one. It’s up to you whether you’ll find this slavery to the bank of Tom Nook fun or not, but all I can do is sigh and lament the fact that you really will never have enough, no matter how many Bells you earn. It’s little wonder the word “mortgage” contains the French word for death.

If I were you, I’d become the worst tenant in the world. Trash the place, make enemies of the neighbours, pay Tom Nook back on the never-never, and generally strike one back on behalf of renters everywhere. God knows we ranters and buyers need someone on our sides. Just wait until you get a mortgage of your own though, and see how drastically your outlook and voting habits change.

Play your cards right and you could even become a buy-to-let vulture/shark. Pretty grisly stuff though. If the real world of property gets a bit too overwhelming for you, and I know it does for me, then perhaps a trip back to classic, colourful and non-cynical Animal Crossing on your DS will be just the ticket for you.

5 April 2022

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