Wild World removes several features and the playable NES games, in favor of adding online play with friend codes. In order to get around the issue of international online play, most real-world holidays were excised, with a small handful of generic ones offered in their place. The "acre" system was removed and replaced with the "rolling log" effect that the series is now known for, with the new visibility of the sky leading to new features such as the ability to shoot down floating presents with a slingshot and the ability to make constellations to view when outside at night. Notoriously, the game also introduced the use of Nintendo Zone DLC, which is the only way to get monkey villagers, making monkey villagers a case of No Export for You for those who live in places where Nintendo did not roll out the service (as well as a case of Permanently Missable Content considering the shut down of the Nintendo Zone service).
On the side of additions, the game introduces a much greater level of customization for the player, allowing them to wear not only shirts, but also different face accessories and hats (having previously been restricted to clothes that would occupy both their shirt and unchanging Nice Hat). The player is also now able to change their hair color and hairstyle through Shampoodle, a salon that becomes unlockable late in the game, and are able to pluck flowers and wear them in their hair or mouths as accessories. The game also makes considerable use of the DS's touch controls, allowing the player to switch between touch controls and traditional button controls on the fly. Similarly to Super Mario 64 DS, the player can use the touch screen as a substitute for an analog stick when controlling their character, but can also use it to organize inventories, write letters, and design patterns.
Perhaps the biggest new feature is the addition of online multiplayer (via the DS's ever-controversial "friend code" system), which became a considerable focus of both the game's marketing and its gameplay— some services are outright exclusive to multiplayer. Thankfully, for those who either didn't have access to WiFi at the time (given that the technology was still relatively nascent in 2005) or are playing after the 2014 shutdown of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, the game still allows for local multiplayer through having two DSes and Wild World game cards in the same room.
Animal Crossing: Wild World is one of the best-selling DS games and popularized the DS' online capabilities. In hindsight however, the game is the subject of mixed opinions compared to the rest of the series. While it introduced many well-received features and quality-of-life improvements that later installments would continue to make use of, the game was also hit with noticeable setbacks, many of which are speculated to be the result of the DS's technical limitations (save for the aforementioned removed holidays). As a result, the game stands as the black sheep of the mainline franchise to many. That said, fans will agree that despite its visible limitations, it was a good attempt at translating its home console predecessor to a handheld format, especially one that featured less traditional controls than the Nintendo 64 and GameCube.
This game provides examples of:
- Con Man: Lyle is a fast-talker who doesn't take no for an answer, but the insurance he sells is a scam that never pays out more than it costs to buy. He's seemingly in cahoots with Redd as Redd will always appear on the day that the player picks on the survey.
- Downloadable Content: You can download free stuff in Wild World.
- Emote Animation: Originally exclusive to NPCs, Wild World introduces Dr. Shrunk so the player can use emotes as well.
- Evolving Title Screen: The title screen shows a preview of the player's actual town, so it's different for every save file.
- Flying Saucer: Gulliver flies one that the player can shoot it down with a slingshot.
- Game-Breaking Bug: For reasons unknown, the game was not 100% stable and would randomly freeze upon finishing an errand for a villager, forcing the player to reset their game and face Mr. Resetti's wrath.
- Guide Dang It!: You can change your bed by pressing "A" in front of the foot of the bed, and then selecting a bed item from your inventory. Nothing in the game ever hints at this being possible.
- In-Series Nickname: Your neighbors may come up with nicknames for you. Whether it's embarrassing or affectionate is up to you, but you're given the ability to suggest your own if you don't like theirs.
- Last of His Kind: In Wild World, Rocco is the only hippo villager in the entire game (even the Octopus has more villagers). It's especially noticeable since in the original, hippos weren't exactly a rare species. Averted since City Folk as more hippos from the original games did come back.
- Message in a Bottle: An item the player can receive in Wild World. The player can write a letter inside it and throw it out into the ocean, and may occasionally find one themselves. It could either be a randomly generated message, or another player's via Tag Mode.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Lampshaded when you catch a piranha— your character asks "What river is this, anyway?"
- Random Number God: When you buy a painting from Crazy Redd, there's always a 50/50 chance that it will either be authentic or a forgery which is completely unfair as you have no way of discerning its true quality before purchase.
- Speaking Simlish: In Wild World and Wild World only, Animalese appears to sound like generic gibberish; it is unknown if the game is reading out the text with a text-to-speech program like in other games or if it genuinely uses gibberish. Additionally, Anamelese is changed in all regions to sound closer to the higher-pitched text-to-speech voice used for Animalese in the Japanese versions of the original Animal Crossing, a standard that all following games would adhere to.