I got "Animal Crossing City Folk" for Wii in the mail from Nintendo yesterday, along with a separate box containing the Wii Speak peripheral.
As is so often the case, I discovered something interesting in the fine print. Here's a tip: if you're buying Wii Speak, don't buy it used.
The Wii Speak peripheral is a microphone that is made to be placed above or below your TV, enabling group Internet-connected voice chat with other people who also own the peripheral. I can't tell how useful that's going to be until Multiplayer's own Tracey John and I try some "Animal Crossing" chat.
The peripheral can also be used without "Animal Crossing," just for game-free voice chat, but that requires used of the Wii Speak Channel, which will be released in December.
But there's a catch, a fine print surprise. There is a pamphlet packaged with the peripheral that includes a 16-character code, a "Wii Download Ticket Number," to be used for downloading the Wii Speak Channel. According to the pamphlet, this code "cannot be replaced by Nintendo or your retailer if it is lost or stolen."
A Nintendo rep further clarified to me that the channel won't be able to be downloaded through any other means. You won't be able to get it off the Wii Shopping Channel manually, nor would you be able to buy it. Essentially, the Wii Speak Channel will be available to new purchasers of the Wii Speak mic and that's it.
I'd imagine that anyone who gets a Wii Speak in anything other than its original packaging -- buys it used on eBay, for example -- isn't going to get a fresh code. And without the code, they won't be able to get the channel. So if you're shopping for Wii Speak, you'd best buy it new. I don't think use of a used Wii Speak mic would limit its functionality with "Animal Crossing," but I can't confirm that. Still, this isn't how most gaming peripherals like, say the "Rock Band" drums or the Wii Balance Board are restricted, so I thought it best to pass on.
And is the peripheral worth it? We'll let you know once we test it out.