Sunday, September 22, 2013


Animal Crossing: New Leaf Continuing Impressions

When Animal Crossing first came out on the Gamecube, it was sold as a game where you could do whatever you wanted.  You move into this little village full of animals, and you make your life what you want it to be.  But there was a catch.  You start the game in debt.  When you pay off the debt, you get a bigger debt.  Whatever else you wanted to do with your little virtual life, your debt was always hanging over you.  No one likes to be in debt.  And since this was the only major long-term goal the game presented you with, people pretty naturally came to think of Animal Crossing as the game that's about paying off your mortgage.

When New Leaf was being developed, the word from Nintendo was that, after doing the same idea for three games, they didn't really think it would be sufficient to make yet another game that's about paying off your house.  And I was like, eyeroll, I'll believe it when I see it.

And they've done it.

The change is so subtle that you may not even notice it, especially if you're used to the earlier games in the series.  After all, it starts out exactly the same way -- Nook hooks you up with your first house and sticks you with a bill.  You do some foraging, get some bells, dump them into a machine in the post office.  The surprise comes when you go into Nook's place after paying off your bill and, instead of starting you on your next loan, he tells you to come see him when you're ready to expand.  Well, being used to Animal Crossing games, of course I agreed to the next upgrade.  And the next.  And the next.

And then it occurred to me -- this is optional.

I was so used to the trap that I didn't notice that the door was hanging open the whole time.

I never liked the huge houses in Animal Crossing.  I don't collect a lot of furniture, and I don't really like decorating.  I thought that maybe getting the biggest house would give you some measure of "game progress" or something, but no -- a quick flip through GameFAQs suggests that there's nothing you really "get" for it.

So I've stopped.  I'm pursuing more interesting goals, like public works projects and upgrading the shops on Main Street.  Or hell, just screwing around and playing.  Taking trips to the island for mini-games.  I don't feel like I have this anchor dragging me down anymore.  Animal Crossing is finally the game it always wanted to be.  It's the little life sim where you can do things if they interest you and skip them if they don't.

Just another reason this is my favorite version yet.


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