Allen discovers that there's more to life (and video games) than completing the next objective.
If Animal Crossing and I had a relationship status, it would definitely be “it’s complicated.” While I enjoyed the first game in the series, I eventually lost interest and didn’t play another title in the series until New Leaf released. Upon playing New Leaf, I found myself frustrated and bored by the shallow mechanics, repetitive gameplay, and limited scope. I eventually sold the game to GameStop, and never looked back. Until now.
Before I explain this sudden turn of affection, let’s step back in time to 2005. I was attending a local community college and working at J.C. Penney’s in the children’s department. School would consume the week and work would consume the weekend. As someone with a multitude of hobbies, I often found myself stressed and disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy the things that I once loved. It was during this time that I got hooked on Animal Crossing.
I had been an avid gamer for years, yet I had never played anything like Animal Crossing. The game seemed almost too simple, but in a charming way. I especially enjoyed how the game mirrored real life. Days passed into nights, seasons changed, and townsfolk came and went all before my eyes. This microcosm served as a warm and welcome place for me whenever I needed a place to mentally recuperate. Eventually, I moved to another college, leaving my GameCube behind altogether, and Animal Crossing became another fond memory.
By the time that I purchased New Leaf, my tastes had changed, and what I once found charming now felt almost childish. The simple game mechanics vexed me, and I grew impatient as I tried to pay off my house and other town projects. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t provide many options for earning bells (in-game currency), and I could only play the game for a half an hour at most before the core gameplay loop started to feel repetitive. Without a quick way to earn money, I couldn’t complete my objectives, and I eventually gave up on the game.
For years, I didn’t even think about the Animal Crossing series until recently when my son was born. With extremely limited free time, I ached for a video game that was simple, relaxing, and fun. Then I remembered Animal Crossing New Leaf. I bought a digital copy of Animal Crossing New Leaf Welcome Amiibo and gave it another shot. This time, I loved the game for all the same reasons I hated it before. The simple game mechanics ensure that I don’t get stressed playing it, and the shorter playsessions allow me to accomplish a lot in only a half hour. Earning bells is more of an afterthought now as I find far more excitement from catching a new type of fish, talking with a fellow villager, or wandering through the museum. In other words, I came to understand that Animal Crossing is not the type of game that you try to “beat.”
Much like real life, Animal Crossing is all about the journey. If you only focus on completing your objectives, you miss all the small moments that make life (or Animal Crossing) enjoyable. So, take a moment to stop and smell the roses, and you just might enjoy Animal Crossing: New Leaf as much as I do.
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Allen Brasch is an aspiring writer who loves good science fiction, fantasy, and horror. When Allen's not writing or gaming, he's talking about all things geeky on his podcast, Devil May Play.