I played Animal Crossing on GameCube for less than an hour before I stopped caring. When my friend lent it to me, I was intrigued by the idea that a game could continue in real time, day in and day out. I was green to the game, so I didn't realize two very important truths. The first is that these games are ment to play in small sprints. The second, getting in to AC is a relatively long-term commitment, one that sucks up your time and attention in small, unsuspecting doses until you're utterly spent. Back in 2004, I wasn't ready.
So I went on with my life figuring that while I could cast off Animal Crossing as boring, the truth of it was I just didn't get it. Then at E3 last week, 90% of the people I Street Passed with were playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and I decided to give it another go. What the hell, right? It's almost ten years later, it's portable now so I can play it on the bus, not to mention I'm much more open to new things than I was as my former angsty brat of a high school student self. And most importantly, I write for a damn video game culture site, so any excuse to continue my outdated protest against the series is unprofessional. I picked up a copy last Friday and holy crap am I suddenly very busy.
To say I'm an Animal Crossing noob is about as best I can describe it. I booted up my 3DS knowing I'd be the mayor of a town, and something about bells and fruit, but that's about it. I'm gradually learning more and more about the game, and I'm currently invested in getting a 100% approval rating from the town for all the weeds I pick and letters I write. I'm getting better at fishing, my prize catch being the hammerhead shark I scored down by the beach. I've only been stung by three swarms of bees, which I'm cool with, because I don't mind being teased by my citizens about my puffy face.
When I first arrived in Balamb (hell yes I named my city after the school in FFVIII) I thought about posting a flyer on the bulletin board about how ridiculous it is to have a mayor sleeping in a tent, but I like camping, and the tent was damn cute, so instead I wrote about how much I like pizza. I was able to afford the down payment on my house with the bells I got from the hammerhead shark (that real estate crook named Nook must be diving into swimming pools of bells like Scrooge McDuck with all he's pulling in) but now I have to start decorating the place, building on floors, making it look worthy enough to share pictures on the Internet.
All of this requires more bells, and so far, I haven't found a way to collect these bells without actively playing. So I spend about an hour a day, split up throughout the day, fishing for squid, collecting bugs in my net, shaking trees for fruit, and digging holes to find fossils to sell at my town's recycling center. Sometimes, when I'm playing late at night and the recycling center is closed, I donate my items to the museum. But this doesn't help me improve my home, and I know a fossilized T-rex would look great in my future foyer.
While I'm out collecting all these items to convert to bells to convert to status in the form of my possessions, house, and town, I keep getting stopped by my neighbors who want me to give them stuff. I like Rex. Rex wanted an orange, I had nine in my pack (stacking fruit is a game-changer), I gave him one, and he was happy. Mayoral points to me. But this girly sheep Baabara (I'm still kind of digging all the puns) wants me to find her a bug that I've never seen before. She claims it's not that rare. I think she's a liar. But I want to be a good mayor, aiming to please, so I put my bell hording aside to make my citizens happy.
Its times like this when I start to get overwhelmed.
To my disappointment, I can't find the bug. Maybe it's in another town? I can link up with friends and visit their town if I open my gate and look for Baabara's bug there, but I only have two friends who own a 3DS. I'm up a creek without a paddle here. Baabara is going to hate me.
I hear there's an island that opens up at some point, so maybe I can go there and find this mystery bug she's looking for. But by then, I'll be tasked with creating a public works project, paying off the debt for my fifth story add-on, visiting Russ at 6:00PM so I can check out his new punching bag, and making sure I hit rocks everyday for a gem and a fat stack of bells. Oh, and my friend told me he knows someone who got a Master Sword from a fortune cookie, which has become a top-of-the-list priority, along with a separate room for all my meta videogame memorabilia.
The kid in me starts shouting, "THERE'S SO MUCH TO DO AND I WANT IT ALL!!"
Maybe my first impression of that Animal Crossing game was a subconscious warning. My brain told me it was boring, but really, it was my keen gotta-catch-'em-all senses from my Pokémania days telling me, warning me, that I'd be all-consumed if I continued on. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a bug catching competition to win, a newsletter to write, some rocks to bash, a friend to visit, a carpet to decorate, and a few thousand bells to spend.
[The very cool header on this article was taken from Arkade.Me.]
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