Very recently I’ve taken to downloading games onto my systems rather than deal with going to stores and all the bullshit that comes with that, so I went out and bought a 32GB SD card for my 3DS. This was a good thing, but also very shitty since the 3DS doesn’t retain any save data for Animal Crossing or certain other games, so more storage meant losing a year and a half’s worth of work in that game. While initially I was pretty pissed, it was kind of nice because it gave me a newfound reason to play it. Playing it a second time I’ve noticed a few annoying things that, had they been fixed would have made the game perfect.
- Better music
This one’s a little nit-picky, but I think it needs to be said. I’ve recently got the Animal Crossing Chrome app that plays the music in real time, and I gotta say, the music from Animal Crossing and Wild World/City Folk was much better than New Leaf. While it seems a few songs from New Leaf like the 5PM music have drawn inspiration from the original AC, but a lot of the other songs are somber and kind of forgettable. And a lot of the later night music are only 15 second loops; compared to the original AC and City Folk, where every song was more up-beat and bouncy, even in the later hours. Like I said though, this is a minor complaint, and doesn’t really dampen the game in any real way.
- More Intuitive Fishing
Am I the only one who thinks fishing in Animal Crossing hasn’t been good since the first game? I don’t know why, but ever since Wild World, fishing is just a bothersome thing to do. The fish all swim to close to the shoreline, or riverlines. Trying to aim your fishing rod is stupid, and it seems like even when it no matter how close you land to them they still won’t go for it unless it’s dead center of their field of view. It’s a pain in the ass.
- Hints from Redd
This falls under the more nit-picky things on this list, but I really think it could have made for a more tightly designed game. It’s always been a thing in Animal Crossing that Redd will show up and try to swindle you with fake art. In the early editions it was really just a game of chance, but in New Leaf, there are actually notable differences in fake art compared to the real thing. Providing you have a working knowledge of art, which let’s face it, most 6-year-olds playing Animal Crossing probably do not. Granted, this can be a teaching tool, pushing kids to do a bit of research on art, what with the convenience of the internet and that, but, once again let’s face it, no 6-year-old playing Animal Crossing is going to do that. And I thought I noticed something in Redd’s language when you’re looking at fake art vs. genuine art, but I was wrong.
Now, when Redd show’s up, he always has four pieces of art, yeah? One genuine piece or art among three fakes. So why not have him use slightly deceptive language when he’s trying to sell you a piece. He’s a known swindler, so he’ll try to convince you, but there should be something off about his language. Like with a fake he could say “I didn’t believe that this was the real thing at first, but I was corrected immediately.” And for genuine art he’d say “Now you must be a real art lover to spot an authentic Fine Painting like that.” Now, I’m stupid and those are probably pretty obvious, but you get what I mean. Make it subtle, but not impossible to figure out. That or get the inevitable app or google the real deal, but this should be stuff the game tells you.
- More Personalization of Isabelle
With such a robust assortment of characters, and even some really good personalization of the main characters like Tom Nook and the Abel Sisters (primarily in Wild World), it’s a real shame that Isabelle is always stuck behind a desk never interacting or showing any semblance of personality. Sure there’s the one moment where she admits she loves sea shells, but she never leaves her post other than to tag along behind you for a second and say nothing, never shows up at The Roost for a coffee, or to catch K.K. who she claims is so dreamy. I think it would have been nice if she had her own house in your village, or what if the Town Hall had business hours like the shops? I mean, it’s not open on holidays and if you wanted you could keep it open later with the Night Owl ordinance, but why does she have to stay there every moment of every day? Why can’t you interact with her, and befriend her? Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but it really did seem like all the main characters had better developed stories in Wild World. Honestly, this is the summation of his life from the website Nookapedia: “Tom is very money-driven, and many years ago left behind his friends, most importantly Sable, to travel to the big city. While there, he has dreams of success which are quickly broken by the harsh life there. After making nothing of himself, he returns to the player’s town to set up his store.” Here’s what Sable will say in City Folk, though I remember her mentioning this story in Wild World “Oh, Welcome! What? The couple in that photo? Oh stop it, <Player’s name>, really. I’m still single! Of course that’s not me. That’s my late mother. I’m the young girl, there, and the smaller girl beside me is Mabel. The two of us are ten years apart… Both Mother and Father died when Mabel was still just a little girl. But since she was so small, she doesn’t remember a thing, the poor dear. The only memory she has of our parents is this photo… I never thought I’d be able to take the place of our parents for her… So I just did what I had to and tried to look after her as best as I could. Somehow, thankfully, she grew up to be that bright bit of sunshine we all love. It was a huge relief that she grew up so normal. Her only fault is that she can be a bit too tomboyish…”
Those are extremely sad, dark stories for such a mundane kid’s game. And that’s what, to me at least, made it so great. If you took the time, you begin to learn things about the people in your world. Their hopes, their dreams, their successes and their failures. It made the world seems so much more alive and connectable. But all of that was stripped from New Leaf, and I don’t understand why. I hope if this series makes it to the WiiU, that they’ll put that personalization back in.
- Swappable designs
This may be a minor complaint, but the fact that when you customize items with a custom made design, and then you change it and it changes the design in that item, or when you lay it on the floor to make roads and stuff is so stupid. Honestly? What there wasn’t enough memory to keep a design on the floor after you’ve changed it in your designs? It’s so stupid! What if I want roads and cool custom designs like Altair’s Robes and other nice jackets and things? At the very least it should stay on items. And it makes no sense since when you use a custom design on your second floor museum exhibits and then change the design, IT STAYS ON THE STUPID SIGN? How does that even work? That means it was specifically programed to stay on those signs, but nowhere else after being changed. What a load of crap. I sincerely hope in the next iteration of this game you can do that. I want the freedom to make cool designs then have room for clothes and stuff. Or just give us more than 8 slots for designs.
- A More Intuitive Design Element
Phew, anyway, now that all that nit-picky stuff is out of the way, let’s get down to the real issues I have with this game. Namely, it’s completely ass backwards design element. I’ve come to realize, in my attempts to make a second town, that having Isabelle follow behind you and vaguely put things somewhere near where you’re standing is FUCKING STUPID. Who the hell thought this was a good idea? Not to mention, the rules for putting things are so tight, why can’t I put a streetlight near The Roost? Why would it be too close? It makes no sense. Not to mention, Isabelle’s instructions for where to put it, often make absolutely no sense. Try to put it too close to something and she’ll say “you need an empty space of land that 2 left and right, and 2 spaces back. So basically a lot of space.” 2 left and right? So basically where I’m standing? What the hell kind of instruction is that? Why didn’t anyone consider the crafting system from “Harvest Moon: A New Beginning.” It’s a system that let’s you roam the town freely, but switches to an overhead grid view, that gives you a clear understanding of boundaries around buildings and objects, let’s you place things wherever you want conveniently, and gives you basic options for objects like rotation.
That would have been perfect for Animal Crossing, you go into the Town Hall, sit at your computer and run “Town Building Simulation.exe” DONE. But no, have fun trying 5 times to get your park bench exactly where you want it, because you were half a pixel off from the arbitrary space where you’re standing.
- Control of House Placement
How the hell are you the mayor of the town, yet the real estate agent just decides wherever the hell he thinks is right to put a house? Are you a mayor in title only? There is nothing more frustrating than when you’re trying to come up with a nice design for your town, and Dickhead McNook plops a house right in the middle of your walkway. I think, a better system would be to have Nook approach you, THE MAYOR, before any construction began to decide where the house should be placed. That way, you have the increased level of creation and control, to build the town you want. Plus wouldn’t it make you feel more like a mayor? Speaking of which…
- More Mayoral Clout
I feel like the fact that you’re the mayor of the town really isn’t played on that much. You’re really just more like, the town builder, since every townsperson who has a public works project only asks if you think it’s cool, then immediately says THEY’RE going to see Isabelle so THEY can put in on the list. Wouldn’t it be better if they injected a little bit more Harvest Moon into Animal Crossing and made being the mayor more like a job? And I don’t mean to take away the very spirit of Animal Crossing, which is the freedom to do nothing. But consider this: Every day you have the choice to go into the Town Hall from say 8 until 6 if you don’t have the Night Owl ordinance. You sit down at the Mayor’s desk and Isabelle gives you an itinerary of public’s works projects townspeople want. You can only choose a 2 a day, and you have to pay for R&D. Not only that, she gives you a list of events that are requested, fishing tournaments, home tournaments and the like. You get a calendar of when to hold these events. These things are so minor that obviously you won’t go in every day, but it gives you a little more incentive to be, you know, the MAYOR OF THE TOWN. It’s these little details that would have made the whole experience so much more robust and meaningful.
- More customization options
The inclusion of customizing items was a welcome addition to the Animal Crossing series, and I for one was looking forward to putting my personal touches on my favorite pieces of furniture, to make my house a little more “me.” Which is why it was a little disheartening when you take your furniture to the Recycle Store to be offered one measly pallet swap for furniture. Couldn’t there have been more color choices, design aspects, a paint tool like the clothes customization but for furniture? What’s more is there’s like secret things you can do like how certain pieces of furniture can be molded with the ore you find in rocks, but it’s never made clear what can go with what furniture, or that you can even do it in the first place. But customization doesn’t stop with clothes, even customization of your town feels limited. Like I mentioned before, I’ve seen a lot of people make roads and walkways with designs laid down on the ground, but it makes you wonder why roads and that weren’t a customization options. Going back to “Harvest Moon: A New Beginning” there are a lot of little things that you can put in your town to make it feel a little more…towny. I think Animal Crossing should have done the same thing. Not limit the public works to just stupid nick-nacks you’re never going to use, but actual things like brick streets, topiaries, small things that not only give your town a sense of flow, but an actual functional design.
- Better Multiplayer
Last, but certainly not least, I’ve been saying this since Wild World: Animal Crossing needs a better online mode. From the start, the inclusion of multiplayer was the best idea Nintendo could’ve put into this franchise. Considering the first game had a very selective multiplayer element, being able to actually interact with other people in-game and run around and have fun with them was the kind of life that needed to be breathed into the game. However, the stupid friend-code bullshit was dumb and made multiplayer restrictive. Nintendo got close this time with the Dream Center, and the Island mini-game things, but why couldn’t they have just included a feature where opening your gate allowed any person to come in. All it would take was a search feature, or even just a random town that had its gate open at the time, but there needs to be a better way to interact with other human beings in this game, in real time. Not only that, it opens options for new friends, new townsfolk, new fruits and things to bring back. It makes the little mini game with Katt a whole lot easier. Sure, you’re going to have your trolls who want to just cause havoc and cut down all your trees, but when you see that there should be a very simple boot function that will remove them. Or like a rules set for towns, or even like the island, you can’t bring tools, and a gyroid will lend you stuff when you’re online? Anything is better than having to rely on friends to not only have the game, but be willing to play it the same time you are, and believe me, that is a lot easier said than done.