I’ve always loved Animal Crossing. I lobbied my parents relentlessly to buy it for me for my 13th birthday. As a somewhat lonely kid, I liked the colourful world filled with animal friends. I think what I liked the most is that it gave me a sense of maturity and agency that no one really has as a child. You get your own house, you have a job (briefly), you have neighbours who you help, and you make your own money to pay off your mortgage. Responsibility and adulthood are self-driven; you decide what to do with your time, though in Animal Crossing there aren’t any consequences for not paying your mortgage. I’ve played every other incarnation of the series, though I found I preferred the portable editions. With that in mind, I asked my parents to get me Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which came out when I was in Tanzania. Caren brought it for me and I proceeded to throw hours into it, my village of Emstan, as we were restricted in our movement at night.
I really like spending time in Emstan. There’s so much to do, and you can pick it up and put it down for a while and everything is still ok.
Catching fish is probably one of my favourite parts of Animal Crossing. It’s relaxing and there’s so many different types – I still haven’t caught them all, since fish are seasonal and I always miss at least one. Fish are also pretty lucrative; you can sell them for a fair bit to the second hand shop. I like too how you can catch fish like the sharks which are bigger than your character. There’s also bug catching, but I’m not as good at it, because it requires more skill, in my mind. I did win both the fishing tourney and the bug catching competition though, which made me feel pretty good. Now I just have to win a BJJ tournament.
I like all of the strange characters who come and go from the village too (like the animals who hold the competitions), especially Katrina, the fortune teller. I’ve always liked fortunes and horoscopes. I think they’re a lot of fun, even if they’re not really accurate.
Another character who’s interesting to me is Gracie, the fashionable giraffe. She eventually opens a boutique in the department store, but you have to pass her fashion checks first. What I both like and dislike about them is that they’re based on the attributes of the clothes (cool, cute, modern, and so on), but if you put together an outfit that’s mixed but looks good, you’ll fail the check.
Just wandering around Emstan, my village (or town?) is really fun too.
There’s also lots of holidays and events. Sometimes it can just be a mushroom hunting month, and other times it can be something like Thanksgiving where you have to hunt down ingredients for a feast (but it’s not actually called Thanksgiving).
The animals are sometimes oddly obsessed with foods of all types, so they say things like this:
In New Leaf, you’re the mayor, so you can declare ordinances (like “Keep the town clean” – why does this have to be a thing, shouldn’t we be cleaning anyways?) and create projects like building more bridges or other infrastructure.
I guess one part I do like too is decorating my house, but it can be a pain, since you have limited storage space where you can keep extra furniture and clothes. For the most part, you can reorder things you bought before from the department store, but some items are not orderable.
Some people are a lot less eclectic than I am when it comes to décor. They can be very creative, and it’s fun to see what people come up with. When you streetpass someone, they appear in the “streetpass village” area and you can visit their house and see their rooms. I get a little anxious that my house is awful, but it’s not as if they can comment later on it… I did like this house that was decorated like a restaurant, though.
I do like Animal Crossing a lot, and I pick it up now and then for a few days at at a time. I don’t play every day any more, but I do like seeing my village and making new plans for it. Talking to the villagers and helping them with things is fun too. I checked my 3DS (well, now my New 3DS XL, which I bought as a thesis-defense-finishing gift for myself) to see how many hours I’ve spent in Emstan. It’s a little scary, to be honest, but I’ve spent about 130 hours there. I’d recommend Animal Crossing to everyone, since I think it appeals to a variety of tastes.