I claimed that I could describe what sort of game Animal Crossing is. While some of the mechanics and foci are similar to what has come before, Animal Crossing is its own game.
- Careful scripting and controlling of the player sets up the story, explains the big picture, and then releases the player to experiment. Before long, the story opens up, and players can set their own goals.
- Conventional NPCs like Isabelle and Tom Nook gateway the player to new content.
- Deep mechanics provide players with tasks that can be mastered, and provide better rewards to mastering players.
- The unending, affable banter of the townsfolk animals give the player new targets to strive for, new tasks to undertake, new furnishings for the house, or just a relief from impending repetition fatigue.
I’ve thought about how to continue this series, including listing the long line of user generated content options, but very quickly these ideas became gushing. I’ll mention it in passing, along with the acknowledgement that the Able Sisters pattern design tool, or the ability to make music boxes at Retail, are options that players should explore on their own. I don’t know how my going into detail would improve gamers’ appreciation of the work that went into them, so reader: take my word for it, they are fun and creative!
I want to touch on accessibility in Animal Crossing, as I claimed that it was a game for everyone to enjoy, and gamers waiting in the wings may as well jump. Not everyone is having fun, as without exception, Nintendo EAD has without thinking about it confirmed a racial bias. All of the Villager protagonists are by definition white.
I can see how it happened, as Animal Crossing New Leaf (and the others in the series before it) begins the game and tailor the character by means of a first person conversation with Rover. Race isn’t something that can be identified by player responses (or we might have bigger problems than just passive exclusion). Apparently, there are ways to tan (burn?) the Villager until V is dark skinned. It just takes a lot of patience, and possibly more battery life than the 3DS has, to pull it off. It isn’t convenient at all, and stands as an awkward racial bias.
Nintendo as a company doesn’t have a racial bias; the Miis entered gamer culture with darker skin tones from the day the Wii launched! Animal Crossing players can import their miis directly into the game, skin tones and all. But the Mii mask doesn’t look the same as the uber-cute chibi Villagers, and that too fails to satisfy. I think that it is simply plain that Nintendo has blundered into a race minefield in America that they don’t have in Japan, and that the plans to address it came late in AC:NL’s development. This blemish against the game is a shame, as almost any and every other part is polished to perfection!
I might have to swallow my words, as I said previously that anyone could enjoy Animal Crossing, and truly, anyone wanting to live as the only (white) child among tons of goofy, funny animals, anyone who wants to build a perfect dream home and live there part time, will find Animal Crossing to be a joy to play. I hope that as many people as possible try it, as it deservedly stands as one of Nintendo’s greatest, and most brilliantly unusual offerings.
Animal Crossing is a good life fantasy; it is as easy as you like, and you can work at it as much as you want.
Thanks for reading.