Animal Crossing is the one game series that I consider to be my unrequited love. From the release of the first title on the Gamecube in North America, I have been enthralled with the franchise. But I cannot help but be disappointed at how little the series has evolved over the years. It has not stopped me from sinking hundreds of hours into each iteration, but really, that just makes the stagnation all the more painful. Fortunately, the era of recycling seems to be coming to an end with the release of the yet-to-be-named sequel launching on the 3DS in North America in the first half of next year.
Up to this point, the most significant update to Animal Crossing was between the original Gamecube game and the first handheld title, Wild World, for the Nintendo DS. Many people denounce this transition due to the removal of the playable, collectible NES games- but Wild World was truly light years beyond its predecessor. From the rolling log to the expanded museum to the use of dual and touch screens, Wild World was better in almost every conceivable way. Most importantly, it brought Animal Crossing to the 21st century by introducing local and online multiplayer. Animal Crossing was once a rather solitary experience, but was changed forever once friends could meander over to your town, trade, chat, and hang out.
Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii was an insulting, crushing disappointment to Animal Crossing fans. The biggest “addition” to the game wasn’t really an addition at all; the City and all of its “new” attractions were complete farce. Almost all of the shops that made up the City were in Wild World, only the vendors appeared as traveling salesman then. City Folk took the preexisting content, put it in a shiny new wrapper, and called it something new. The potential for the franchise on the Wii was squandered. Other than the City, there were not many significant upgrades or features to be had- it was more or less a console version of Wild World. And then there were downright downgrades, the most egregious being Animal Tracks. Animal Crossing fans know the pain of this “feature”… Like I said before, I still sank 100+ hours into this game, but I was very unhappy with the product overall.
Animal Crossing on the 3DS, on the other hand, is very exciting to me. First and foremost- I prefer the series on handhelds. I think it lends itself very well to the portable, in-your-hands experience. But the thing that really has me salivating is the slew of changes and new features that will help make this a much more detailed and customizable experiences for veteran players. It has truly come to save this franchise from the brink of self destruction by way of rehash.
Animal Crossing 3DS Footage – Nintendo Direct
The biggest change has been known for well over a year- instead of playing as Tom Nook’s indentured servant; you are coming in as the new mayor of the town. This is where the first step of customization comes in. You will have the power to change the appearance of your town, from the position and type of lamp posts and bushes, to the installation of fountains. This will really help you to create a town that is unique to you- but it does not stop there. Your house is also customizable, and no I am not just talking about the wallpaper and furniture. I am talking about the architecture, the building materials, the fence. Everything. And I mean everything; you can reupholster furniture with your own patterns. Did you catch that? You can reupholster furniture with your own patterns. There are seemingly few limitations on how much you can customize your town, and, of course, it can all be shared with friends via wireless and online play, and with strangers via Streetpass. This is exactly what Animal Crossing needed; the ability to make your Animal Crossing experience unique to you.
While certainly the most exciting addition to the game, customization is far from the only one. The character’s bodies have been elongated to allow for every article of clothing to be changed, and a new shoe shop has been opened to suit those needs. And the shoe shop is accompanied by a slew of new venues, like Club 444- K.K. Slider’s new home for dance parties, a photo booth, the upholstery store, and what appears to be the office of a hypnotist, amongst several others. The tropical island from the first Animal Crossing also makes its return- only this time it is bigger and even has its own shop, you can take your friends, and it is a hot spot to test out the new swimming feature, diving to find creatures on the sea floor. The island also holds an old friend, one who is the caretaker of my favorite new feature- integrated multiplayer games. Friends no longer have to resort to fruit-tac-toe and “dig up the town” for entertainment. It is about time- here is to hoping that the ball from the original game will make a return and be featured in a game of its own.
These are but of a few of the many additions and updated features. The game launches in Japan this year, so the team behind the project recently posted a Nintendo Direct video showcasing over 45 minutes of footage. Check it out above, and get pumped for the sequel that Animal Crossing deserves!