Thursday, April 30, 2020

Animal Crossing and Corona Virus Blues

I'm one of the many people who are spending their coronavirus lockdown at home playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I managed to nab a copy just in time too; I had checked other stores in my area and they were all sold out; Yodobashi Camera happened to still have copies so I locked out. Then I saw it in the news; stores were going to be out for a while. YESSS!!! I feel so lucky to have gotten a copy.

While I was at Yodobashi, I also managed to see the posters announcing reservations for Final Fantasy VII, the complete remake. The day was bittersweet, as I did get my copy of Animal Crossing, but I lamented the fact that I may never get to play this game for which I've been waiting for years. I just threw down ¥30,000 on a Switch and I wasn't about to throw more money down on a PS4 just to play one game. I need to face it; I'm a Nintendo guy.

I need to be honest and say that I'm not a real, genuine Animal Crossing fan. I happen to have the GameCube version which I still play from time to time, but only because my kids kept asking to play it. I didn't even buy my copy of the game; a friend of mine gave me this copy over a decade ago and I happened to hold on to it. It only ever slipped into my GameCube system because a cousin kept coming over to play, he happened to start playing it and happened to like it. In all honesty, more people have played my GameCube copy of Animal Crossing than I have, and I think it's hilarious. X-D

It's one of those games that the more I saw other people play it, the more I got into it. When My cousin came over to play, I started a character and I'd play it only while he was there. Then I went off to college, my cousin stopped coming over, and I'd forget I even had the game.

Fast-forward to today, and my son discovers I have a GameCube with a bunch of games and he starts exploring them one by one. He's automatically a fan of Mario Sunshine and Luigi's Mansion. He plays the Sonic the Hedgehog collection and he likes it. He isn't too captivated by my Megaman Collection. He can't really play any of the Metroid Primes either, but he loves to watch me play. And then he got a hold of Animal Crossing, and I'm automatically taken back to those days when my cousin would come over. My son can't speak English very well, so he needs me to sit with him so that I can translate it for him into Japanese. I'm a bad father in this respect, I know, but at this point, what can I do? He wants to play the game and he can't read English since he's not being exposed to it as he should.

At any rate, I inevitably start my own character, and every time I play, I'm transported back to the days of my youth. I recall all the work I had to do to pay Nook off and to fix up my house just how I wanted it. I remember how much I liked listening to KK play different tunes.

Soon my wife starts asking what this game is all about and she wants to start a character of her own.

It's always amazing how much people are more drawn to this game than I am. I'm just playing around because they like it, not because I think the game is amazing in anyway.

And then announcements for Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Switch start appearing on TV and social media, and my whole family is immediately captivated. My son starts bugging me about how much he wants to try it. And then school is cancelled and my wife starts talking about how the kids will need to be entertained while we ride out the coronavirus. My wife, who normally holds the drawstrings to the family purse tight, is suddenly OK with me going out to buy this game. I decide to strike while the iron is hot and decide to visit our local electronics stores. First I went to the nearest Yamada Denki, and no cigar. Then Edion and it's the same thing. I went to Joshin only to find out they were sold out too. Finally, I thought to myself, I'll try Yodobashi Camera, and if they don't have it, I might as well give up. I go up to the gaming floor and they seem to have their decoy boxes on the shelves. I grab a box and take it to the register, and I'm delightfully surprised to find out they had it!

And now, the whole family is hooked.

Well, almost; the youngest is 3 and he can't play yet.

The game is AMAZING.

My eldest, our second, my wife and I all have our own characters, all living on the same island.

Since the Switch can switch (ah hah hah!!!) back and forth between languages, it's possible for me to play the game in English, and the rest of my family in Japanese. My family is thrilled to finally be playing Animal Crossing in a language they can understand.

We love the multiplayer mode, which allows more than one player to play simultaneously in the same session.

We're all customizing our houses and our clothes just how we want them. It's amazing to see all of our personalities shine through the game. I didn't know just how stylish my 2nd was, and I didn't know how artistic my first was. My wife is as girly as you can get.

The things you can do in this game are amazing so far.

We're trying out this online feature, where others can visit our island and vice-versa. My son is having fun going to his friends' islands and play hide and seek. A co-worker of mine also happens to play and we visited his island; it was AMAZING. It gave us ideas for sure.

As I've said, we love the multiple player feature.

This has allowed me and my wife to go on dates...

 Yes, even in the game, I'm wearing a mask to help prevent coronavirus...

My son and I went fishin' together...

My wife just love to fish! She also likes to make money selling the catch.

One night, she went on a fishing spree, and since she refused to sell the fish through the ATM for a lower price, she placed all the fish around the shop. The next day, I woke up to this. LOL!

And speaking of money, the game and the fact that it's online has spawned what I can only describe as its own little economy. People meet each other and pay each other in "bells," the game's currency, for things like services, goods found on their islands etc. The game's economy has become such a talking point that Tom Nook, the game's head entrepreneur made the front page of the Financial Times.

Astonishingly, the game has many ways in which players can earn "bells," from selling items to the local store, to finding money lying around, to players giving each other money, to investing in the turnip or what I'd like to call "stalk market," to growing a money tree to... Yeah it's amazing.

Having played the original Animal Crossing on GameCube, I've got to say, I'm just blown away by this upgrade. In many ways, it's just like that old game I played a while back. A lot of the aspects of the same, except there's a whole lot more to do. Not only are the game's graphics more visually appealing, the entire island is customizable in one way or another. Whereas in the first game, you basically had to live with the "town" you were given, you can change the entire island on the Switch to your liking. You can do things like build bridges, to dig moats and lakes, to move houses and stores around, to place pools and baths where you want...

I like to play this game just for the scenery. The game is in real time, which means that the day changes with the hours in real time. The game has stunning sunsets and sunrises, as well as misty moons. I love how the water becomes transparent or reflective depending on the time of the day and the position of the sun.

You can pick up this game at any point in the day, and the time of day will be reflected in the game.

Even the seasons change.

My family has played this game for about a month, and so far, we're all still rather hooked.

Personally, I like this idea that we have this island to customize and make it exactly how we want it. We can design the interior and exterior parts of our homes, we can choose from a wide selection of flowers and trees to have on our island, furniture, flooring, walls, light fixtures, wall decoration... so many aspects we can customize...

And I haven't even gotten into all the delightful villagers you get to meet.

All in all, I can say, my family and I are all very happy with our purchase.