Wi-Fi — What Is It?
Short for "Wireless Fidelity", Wi-Fi is a form of wireless internet; it allows mobile electronics, such as laptops, to connect to various networks via a "hotspot." Nintendo is setting up their own Wi-Fi network as of November, 2005 in order to enable Nintendo DS users to connect to other players world-wide. DS Wi-Fi access will be free via public hotspot, and will also be able to be set up at home. There are a variety of games that will be released that will utilize this function — after Mario Kart DS and Tony Hawk: American Wasteland, Animal Crossing: Wild World will be the third game to use it.
How Can I Use It?
If you already have a wireless router connected to your PC, you're good to go. It may take some adjustment to get your router working with the DS, but it shouldn't be overly difficult. You may wish to do research on wireless routers if you're interested in using Nintendo's Wi-Fi network at home. Nintendo will be releasing a Wi-Fi USB Connector that will simply need to be plugged into an open USB port, but it is not clear if this device will be compatible with future systems, such as the Revolution, and definitely will not be compatible with non-Nintendo devices. The USB Connector is around $35.00 (US).
If you do not have internet at home, or lack hi-speed access, you may wish instead to connect to the Wi-Fi network via the public hotspots. Thus far, we know that Nintendo has partnered with Wayport to provide hotspots in the United States, and Fatport to provide hotspots in Canada. Nintendo and Wayport have already announced that DS hotspots will be available in participating McDonald's restaurants. A detailed list of hotspots can be located at www.nintendowifi.com.
Connecting to hotspots, both at home and in public, appears to be very simple on the DS. The Wi-Fi menus have been described as being clean, and "simple yet versatile". It has also been confirmed that if you have purchased the Nintendo USB Connector, you can connect directly to the service with only the click of a button. For those doubting that they would be able to set up and connect to their own wireless routers, no worries. Nintendo promises simplicity.
Animal Crossing: Wild World & Wi-Fi
Once you get your Wi-Fi connection and service set up, and you have your copy of Animal Crossing: Wild World to boot, you're ready to go!
When you start up your game, you will have three options: Play, Tag Mode, and Other. If you are planning on using the Wi-Fi network, you will need to choose the second option, “Tag Mode”. However, you can only connect to another user with Tag Mode if you know the other player's Friend Code in advance. To check what your own Friend Code is, you can head up to the north of your town, and ask Copper to “set up a Nintendo WFC connection”. He will then inform you that you don't have a Friend Code, and issue you one. If you ever forget your Friend Code, you can always be reminded by Copper. To add somebody else's Friend Code to your Friend Roster you will need to access your inventory, and then select the heart icon. You can then select “register” and then enter the code given to you. For those of you who already own a copy of Nintendogs, you might already be familiar with how Tag Mode works — Bark Mode was a testing ground for Tag Mode. Indeed, registered Nintendogs owners were asked to help select a name for the Wi-Fi hookup function via a survey sent out over email in the fall of 2005.
Visiting Somebody Else's Town…
When you connect to another user, you will enter the gates located at the front of your town, much like you did when you boarded the train in Animal Crossing for GameCube. From there, you will be taken to a lobby, where you will be able to choose which of your friends' towns you would like to visit. To reiterate — you will have to have that friend's password (you can find other people's friend codes at Nintendo-Play.com or  if you don't have any friends with the game), and they also must be online, in their own town, and added to your buddy list. If your friend has locked their town gates, you will not be permitted to enter their village regardless. If you are permitted to enter their village, they will be notified of your entry. Unlike the original Animal Crossing, if you want to send one of your cool friends a letter, you no longer have to be in the same town as them. Just deliver your letter to the post office, and they will receive your letter in a bottle, as it washes up on the beach. Additionally, when you visit a friend's town, there is a chance that one of your villagers will move out, and you will have one of your friend's villagers living in your own town.
Online In Your Own Town…
If you wish to have people come and visit you in your own town, things will work very much the same way. You and your friend will have to have each other on your buddy lists and your gates will need to be unlocked (you can lock and unlock your gates by talking to Copper or Booker, the gatekeepers). When your guests arrive, you will be notified of their arrival so that you can greet them at the gates. Remember, make sure to only allow people you trust in your town, because there is nothing stopping them from cutting down your orchards or stomping on your prized flower gardens. Nintendo has also confirmed plans to get the community involved with the Wild World community. Every now and then, Nintendo will send out letters and messages from varied members of Nintendo staff, and these letters could even include exclusive prizes! If you are not interested in collecting these letters and items from Nintendo, don't worry! You can always disable the function by using the phone that will be located in your house. However, Nintendo has stated that if you turn off this function, there is not currently any other way to obtain these exclusive items.
What Do You Do Now?
There are an infinite amount of things that you can do once you are connected to the internet and hanging out with your best AC buddies. You can do the regular things: fish, catch bugs, trade furniture, etc., but why not be creative? The users in the Animal Crossing: Wild World community have come up with many original ideas — some of which include soccer games, clean-up crews, and even a multi-village government. So be creative! Make your Animal Crossing: Wild World experience that much better!