first played: 08.08.2013
last played: 09.01.2014
total play time: 842.14 hours
i had always had a passing knowledge that the animal crossing series existed, however it wasn’t until animal crossing: new leaf (ACNL) that i had any real desire to play the game.
ACNL takes place in real-time (when it is noon in reality, it is noon in the game, when it is thanksgiving in reality, it is thanksgiving in the game, etc.), which is why i was initially so apprehensive to jump in. in ACNL, you are the new mayor in a town of ten (give or take) animal residents. your mayor character is responsible for many things: building friendships with your townsanimals, initiating and completing public works projects, building up main street, and generally doing any number of arbitrary and adorable things while watching the seasons change and the holidays come and go.
so much collecting.
when i started, it was a little overwhelming. you have to earn bells (the in-game currency) to make things happen, and the only way to do that (at first) is to fish, catch bugs, and collect fruit and seashells to sell at re-tail, the recycling shop. though tedious, it quickly becomes addicting, as you see the progress your town is making.
another of the big projects is your house. when you arrive in town, you have a small tent set up in a spot of your choosing. over time, you take out home loans, pay them off, and continue expanding. above is a shot of my house before i did any real customization on the exterior. that would all come later.
public works projects are a big deal, both to your assistant at town hall (an adorable pup named isabelle), as well as your townsanimals. each time a project is completed, you have the option of attending a ceremony to celebrate.
one of the silliest public works projects is the reset center (above). it’s basically a manhole cover that is nearly always closed. the resetti brothers (clever, nintendo) are either hard at work down there…or just futzing around (more than likely the latter). resetti will waste no time in telling you to get lost, while his brother don resetti is a bit more hospitable.
as stated previously, one of the main components of the game is collecting. there are dozens of furniture series. there are hundreds of items of clothing. the outfit above is just one of many i would wear while out and about xanadu (my town). that tulip hat saw many a digital rainy day, and i loved those yellow rain boots.
yes, i know none of these things are real, but that didn’t make me like them any less. all of those trees in the background? i planted them. i collected every type of fruit in the game (twelve in all) which took a ridiculous amount of time. i was so pleased i had them all, that i planted them in strategic order around my town square. and don’t get me started on my very carefully placed bamboo plants.
glorious days for xanadu.
at some point, a silly fellow named dr. shrunk will come to town asking if he can build a club on main street. if enough of your townsanimals sign the petition, in a little under a week, he will open the doors to club LOL. if you come see him in the afternoon bearing fruit (and before the club opens), he will teach you ‘jokes.’ these jokes allow you to emote with your animals.
and after you’ve learned all his jokes, he will teach you one final joke: the shrunk funk shuffle. i found by accident that you can use this to ‘dance’ with your animals. upon this discovery, i commenced dancing with everyone. my residents, the shopkeepers, absolutely everyone.
another thing you can spend your time doing is going back and forth to the island. the former mayor of your town (tortimer) can be found on any island tour, and he loves putting you through your paces. the tours can be a fun change of pace from your other mayoral duties.
kapp’n shuttles you to and from the island, and he sings you the most endearing songs. the first time i took the trip to the tropical island, i darn near cried from his earnest and adorable (sorry, there’s that word again) musical musings. he’s a trip.
every saturday at club LOL, kk slider arrives to play a live show. you can request specific songs, and i always request bubblegum kk. it’s my favorite slider tune and is on constant replay in the main room of my house.
one of the coolest things about ACNL is the museum. as you catch new specimens for your encyclopedias, you can donate them to the museum. after doing this, you can visit the different exhibits and see everything in its proper environment. the identified fossils assemble to form dinosaur skeletons. the bug exhibit has them in appropriate groups, some happily wandering around. the aquarium is gorgeous. and the art exhibit has famous paintings with information on the respective painters. it’s a neat way to see everything you’ve ‘done’ in one spot. plus blathers (the owl who curates the museum and accepts your donations) is pretty….adorable.
i know, i know. but that word applies so often to this game.
there is also a lot of subtle positivity to be found. a more obvious example is katrina, the fortune teller. each time she tells your fortune (which consists of revealing what your ‘lucky’ item is for that day), she reminds you of the statement in the image above. as someone who stresses far too often about things that probably don’t ultimately matter, it was a refreshing reminder.
as the seasons change, so do the events that occur. in the above image of my house, you can see the northern lights. i know they don’t hold a candle to the real thing, but seeing them in the game was a total surprise. it was one of the many, many times i found myself grinning at my 3ds.
one of the first things that happens when get off the train in your new town is a brief and touching ceremony in town square, where you plant the town tree. as more time passes, the tree grows…and grows. after a certain amount of time has passed, you can sit down on the ledge surrounding the tree, and a short list of ‘credits’ for your town plays. it’s a lovely way to see everything that has happened since you arrived.
resetti has anger issues. i just needed to point that out.
the above image is my house as it is now. in just over a year since i’ve been playing this game, i’ve only missed one day. ONE. some days are more time intensive than others, but i find myself unable to abandon my town. in the year that’s passed, i’ve completed two of the four exhibits at my museum, two of my three encyclopedias, scored nearly 2 million points from the home academy, and become best friends with nearly all my townsanimals.
i live in a temperate climate where the seasons are really just various shades of summer. and while i love the climate i actually live in, it’s always nice visiting my town to see the trees changing and the seasons come and go. the first time i saw it snow in xanadu i smiled like crazy.
it would be hard to pinpoint why i love this game, or why i’ve spent so much time within it. i reflect on what i’ve written here and i feel like i’ve barely scratched the surface (at best) and that i’ve explained it all wrong (at worst). some of the same reasons it is great are also the reasons i wish i could put it down. i know at some point i will have to leave xanadu to fend for itself, but until i have ‘completed’ certain things, i just can’t do it.
which is why the total time played will likely say nearly 1,000 hours before i’m done.
time sink, indeed.
if anyone would like to visit xanadu, my dream address is: 5000-2919-0524. :)