Sometimes, I like to play World of Warcraft and smite my demonic foes. Sometimes I play Unreal Tournament and go on a massive killing spree. Sometimes I boot up Rocket League and roar at my screen when my teammates are idiots. But sometimes, beyond all that, all I really want to do is live in a little virtual town with animal friends and make money by catching fish, selling fruit and working to build a better house.
Animal Crossing: City Folk was one of the main reasons I got a Wii back in 08, and it was my first Animal Crossing game. I don’t remember where I’d heard about the series (I vaguely recollect an online forum based around Wii titles called friendcodes.com), but it’s up there with Minecraft, WoW, Spore and Terraria as one of those few games that caused me to almost leap out of my seat with excitement when I first laid eyes on it. From there, I watching Animal Crossing Let’s Plays on Youtube (there was a great Gamecube one I remember fondly) and pining for a title in the series until I finally acquired my Wii.
Eventually, however, due to the nature of the Wii in having to set it up whenever you wanted to play (sometimes getting the Wiimotes to sync to the sensor bar was a bitch), I got sick of playing it, and moved on with my life to let my town become overgrown with weeds and abandonment. I’d actually become interested in the previous title in the series, Wild World, as it was a DS title and was therefore more easily accessible. I believe it was Christmas 2010 when I got the game, and to my delight one of my villagers was a penguin named Aurora. Later, when I’d abandoned my town and restarted with a new one, Aurora once more moved in, following me between saves. I think she’s my favourite villager.
But the latest entry in the series (unless you count Happy Home Designer) is New Leaf, and I made sure to pick that one up alongside my 3DS. The quality-of-life changes are delightful, the graphical updates much appreciated (although I do miss the old grass somewhat) and the game as a whole feels familiar, but better. I recently decided to try out Wild World again and found that I couldn’t adjust back after being spoiled by New Leaf. I think my favourite part about New Leaf – besides them fixing the hastily deteriorating grass found in City Folk – is the ability to choose the beautiful town ordinance, making the age old dilemma of your town being overrun with weeds nonexistent. I can abandon my village without having to worry about restarting when I return, or spending an hour de-weeding the entire village.
I’m not entirely sure what it is that keeps pulling me back to Animal Crossing. I’ve never fully paid off my debts and acquired the largest house, or maintained a perfect town or grown much of a bond with my villagers (besides Aurora in Wild World). But every few months or so I’ll get this little niggling at the back of my brain to go back and play more, and I’ll do everything there is to do in a day in the game, every day for a week or two, until I give up on the debt again. But I’ll always return, no matter how many Animal Crossing inspired games I play in-between.
One last thing: If you love the Animal Crossing soundtrack as much as I do, consider trying out this website. It plays the appropriate soundtrack for the time of the day, and you can choose between games in the bottom right. It can make life pretty peaceful!