Right now, this very second as you read these words, fully grown adults with beards and pubic hair are cruising about digital space as ten year old wide eyed versions of themselves. They’re spending hours talking to animals, running into strangers’ homes and trying to cross pollinate flowers all in the aid of paying off the mortgage on their fictional home. This friends is the world of Animal Crossing.
Every couple of years Nintendo boards its great aeroplane of distraction swooping over nations, opens its falange and drops Animal Crossing onto which ever of its consoles is in vogue. This time the devastation caused to productivity levels seems greater than normal with Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the 3DS. With the 7th game in the series Nintendo has discovered how to put crack into gaming form. But what makes Animal Crossing so addictive? Why do people care? What’s the allure of rolling hills and rocks that can create money when hit with a shovel?
1. The aim of the game is to be lovely
This is a game without guns, violence or negativity and it’s incredibly refreshing. The cast of characters you meet are so well drawn and endearing that you genuinely want them to be happy. When you’re asked to deliver a package, it’s not because you will get something out of it, you want to do it because eventually it will cause someone joy.
2. Gotta catch ’em all
Animal Crossing taps into some stupid human desire to collect useless shit. There is a whole museum that you just need to fill with bugs, fish, fossils and portraits. Again this isn’t from any kind of personal gain, it’s because an owl tells you to and you want to make him happy. If you have friends in the real world that you want to meet in the Animal Crossing one then the collecting bug bites even harder. You start the game with one type of fruit (two if you talk to your secretary a ton) but if you visit other villages through local or internet connections you soon discover the joys of apples, peaches and pears (oh my) to name just a few and those bad boys sell for a bugger ton Bells, the currency of this gaming world. In the spirit of sharing, you find that those you play with want to swap and share the things they have with you so your town can grown in tandem with theirs. It’s really rather beautiful.
3. The God complex
What makes this iteration even more addictive than before is that you are now in charge of the town. Mayor Tortimer has seen that in his old age he can no longer guide the town and has retired to a beautiful tropical island. This, along with the residents being a little bit dim means you have power like never before. Need a bridge? You can do that! Fancy a new water feature? You betcha. All these things mean you feel real ownership and responsibility for your fellow citizens.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The Nintendo business model of nostalgia is in full swing as you find master swords, metroids and Mario caps at every turn and we bloody love it. So if you feel like visiting the Vada town of Blamo just leave your friend code below and you can stick your rod in our pond. (mine is 4038-5989-7415)