It’s been a busy week in Neo-Twycross; cats have arrived, alchemy has been performed and I’ve decided to murder Blathers the owl. Firstly, though, I need to rectify a mistake I made when starting this blog – I blithely assumed that everyone reading would be familiar with Animal Crossing already.
Not so. To that end, I thought I’d bring new readers up to speed so my wittering on about Mr. Resetti or K.K. Slider at least makes eye-contact with sanity once in a while. Ahem: Animal Crossing is a game in which you, a cutely-stylised human, arrive in a town full of animals to make a life and a home for yourself.
There are no levels to complete, no bosses to conquer – aside from an initial “tutorial” that sees you completing simple tasks to pay for your house, you’re free to pass the day as you see fit. That said, your neighbours won’t stay in a weed-infested slum for very long, so it’s in your best interests to improve the town, fill the local museum and generally keep
people happy if you don’t want to end up sitting in a swamp by yourself strumming a banjo.
The world exists in real-time; if you fire the game up at night, it’ll be quiet and dusky, with golden houselights spilling out into the trees. Pop to town in mid-winter and you’ll be rewarded with the crunching of snow under your adorable little boots. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to see everything, which is where the compulsion to communicate and share comes in.
Nintendo’s hope is that the entire family will share Animal Crossing together, each staying in one of the town’s four houses and playing the game when it suits them – the kids play when they come home from school, Mum plays late at night after a long day of bounty-hunting, and so on – and that they’ll leave each other notes, presents and practical jokes along the way. If you know the details of someone else with the game, you can convert objects into unique passwords and trade that way.
Animal Crossing has consistently sold well and has spawned a number of sequels on more modern hardware, taking advantage of voice chat and internet connectivity, but (so far) these blog posts chronicle my adventures in the Gamecube original, which passed me by when it was released because I was frozen in carbonite on the wall of Jabba’s palace.
I’ve not been in town long, but I’m starting to find my feet and it seems as though my diligent discovery of fossils is starting to have an impact upon the town. More and more new arrivals are springing up – Olivia, another cat, has moved in next to Mitzi – and now that I’ve found an axe, I’ve begun thinning out some of the more obstructive thickets and planting replacement trees in places I’m not going to smack into them – a sort of arboreal fung shui session, if you like.
What I’m not doing anywhere near enough is writing letters to people – with little to no hope of finding the special “keyboard controller” released at the time, writing anything more than a cheerful haiku to the townspeople is an immensely frustrating experience. If only Nintendo had predicted, er, predictive text a decade ago, writing in-game would be far more pleasant, albeit accidentally obscene from time to time.
Still, time spent not writing letters was time spent fiddling with the mysterious golden patches that spring up periodically around town; digging one up usually earns you a substantial number of bells to spend, but burying your shovel (using a second shovel to avoid any unwanted paradoxes) sows a special golden sprout. Once it’s fully grown, shaking it will reveal that you’ve successfully cultivated a shovel tree, and a golden spade is your reward. (I wonder if whoever keeps burying these sacks of bells is trying to
grow a money tree…)
If there’s one thing I’d particularly like to do with my new spade, it’s smack Blathers the owl with it. The narcoleptic museum curator not only goes through the same torturous dialogue every time I wake him up, but proceeds to tell me how much he hates insects every single time he’s presented with one. I’m not sure what Nintendo’s fascination with long-winded owls is all about, but it makes a trip to Nook’s with my fossils and cicadas far more tempting than another button-mashing speech from pellet-boy. Still, I’m
persevering. For science.
My errands on Saturday were far more surprising – checking my mailbox for returned fossils also revealed a flyer from Nook, informing me of a sale beginning in thirty minutes time. More of this sort of thing, please, Animal Crossing – it’s nice to be given little clues and invitations to what the game has to offer, and the short wait only fuelled my anticipation to see what was going to happen.
While I was hanging around waiting for Nook’s sale, I stumbled across a familiar blue chicken – it was Rhoda, the ungrateful wretch who’d recently upped sticks to Robin’s hometown of Serenity. Sadly, she wasn’t in town to grovel at my feet and beg forgiveness for her treacherous ways, but it was a genuinely surprising incident nonetheless. Almost as surprising as the hideous green shirt Nook had on sale, which I’m now wearing purely because Astrid had told me she wanted first dibs, and I hate her.
Speaking of Robin, some mysterious codes have just arrived. What could he possibly have sent me? Well, that’ll have to wait until the next update – I’m up to Nook’s to type in some 30-digit codes with a Gamecube controller. I may be some time…