Critical Hit | Advancing Animal Crossing

By 26.09.2011 12


They call me grumpy, they call me cynic, they call me sceptic, always the same. That’s not my name, that’s not my name, that’s not my name, that’s not my name! My name is, in fact, Ross Marrs and I feel obliged to share my thoughts on videogames. Therefore, here arrives Critical Hit, a monthly look at my various annoyances about the videogame industry.


I return once again to share my thoughts on the things bothering me in the world of gaming, and this month there’s been plenty of news for me glance over and rant about. Nintendo 3DS has had big news, with the surprising announcement of an attachable second slide pad. I say surprising, because I was shocked Nintendo would release such a thing. Whilst the idea of having an extra slide pad is welcomed by me, I can’t help but feel Nintendo should have planned the 3DS much better before launching it and it should have been there from the start.

I don’t want to echo the hundreds of other sites reporting this problem though and instead, I thought I would share my thoughts on something else that I feel needs fixing. Reggie Fils-Aime once said:

“The graveyard of any industry is filled with the headstones of companies who decided to keep doing things the same old way. Playing only on the margin, making things just a little bit better. That strategy works....for a while, but ultimately it's fatal. Over the years our industry has come to accept progress simply by what’s on the screen.”

Whilst I realise this statement was made about videogame hardware, one part of it grabs my attention, particularly because it also relates to some of Nintendo’s franchises. Doing things the same way and making things only a little better is one of my main concerns about the Animal Crossing series. I think it’s fair to say, since the original on the Nintendo 64, that it hasn’t changed much at all, with Nintendo removing or adding some slightly new aspects. In other words, there’s yet to be a massive change in the repetitive formula. This is completely fine if you’ve never played Animal Crossing, since they are great games, but once you’ve played one of them there’s not much else you’re going to get from buying any of the others.

I find it really disappointing, since Nintendo has the opportunity to take this franchise and evolve it in so many ways by now. Thankfully it seems like Animal Crossing 3DS will change the way you play more than previous versions. Players now take the role of a new mayor for your village and you’ll have to keep under control, though it remains to be seen how substantial these alterations are. Judging by the trailers we’ve seen you’ll have the ability to swim, pick mushrooms and change more clothing on your characters, but I’ve not seen much else. New music was featured, which has got me excited, but ultimately, I feel more needs to be done to justify another £30 for near enough the same game again.

Animal Crossing: Let’s Go to the City had a nice idea in that it expanded the gameplay out to a new area instead of just the village area, but it was far from a ‘city’; instead it only had a few extra shops, some of which were already previously found in your village. For the next instalment, I really hope Nintendo work on creating a much larger city to explore, with lots of new shop and areas to visit. Lots of new animal characters could be introduced here, with crowds roaming around, just like a real living, breathing city. Speaking of areas, there really needs to be a variety in environments to explore as well. Perhaps a large forest, or mountains, or caves. It’d create more exploration and could provide incentives like new treasures to find, or characters could give you tasks to collect something in these areas.

More customisation is also a must, particularly with the main character and your village. We know Nintendo are adding more changes to the main character in the 3DS version, with the ability to now change your lower body clothing, but what about different skin colour and different weights? Lots of new hairstyles and colourings should also be added. As for customising your village, the latest 3DS Animal Crossing trailer did show a bench and lanterns, so perhaps Nintendo have now added the ability to put objects outside. The ability to lay down your own roads and paths would be a nice addition too - you could ride bikes or other small vehicles on them.

Those are just my ideas though; I’m sure Nintendo could come up with many more creative additions. Ultimately, the franchise really needs to evolve more to keep it fresh, and hopefully the 3DS version of Animal Crossing will set the series on the right path for the future. This doesn’t apply to Animal Crossing alone, however: many other game franchises could do with being freshened up, with examples like Pokémon, which has generally stuck to the same formula since the first game, and Kirby, which doesn’t vary too much aside from quirkier quests such as like Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Kirby: Power Paintbrush.

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Definitely the perfect series to rant about. I remember Nintendo blurted out a few cool ideas in an E3 years ago when they announced Animal Crossing Wii. Stuff like sending messages through your mobile phone or emails, and receiving them in the game. That never happened. I don't own Let's Go To The City, but did they implement the weather system whereby it matches your location's weather through the forecast channel? I'm gonna go out on a limb and say they didn't. But that would have been a great feature.

I also think they should perhaps look at something like the Rune Factory series. They took Harvest Moon's simulation and added in an RPG element. Not saying AC should go anywhere near the route of EXP and fighting enemies, but perhaps the idea of being able to explore caves, dungeons and other random places outside of the village/city and work with others to retrieve items or take part in little missions would be a cool idea. Just to mix the game style up a bit from the same old repetitive simulation formula.

Then of course add in a robust online experience. Actually let players wander a huge hub-like world - a city, I guess, but a big real city this time, with lots of shops and stuff - and actually be able to see all of the hundreds of other players wandering around on the screen too. Chat to them, use voice chat, add them as a friend instantly. Ask for help in completing a mission or gather a group to come to your village and get them to do something for you.

And on top of that, just generally tons more customisation features. Did they let you change your face style in Let's Go To The City? I hated that once you answered the questions at the start and got your face, you were stuck with it.

I could definitely add more about this game series. Needs a big kick up the arse. I'm sure a bunch of us at Cubed3 could easily do a better job with the game than Nintendo right now. Hope the 3DS version is a bit more of a step up. Great article, Marzy.

( Edited 26.09.2011 23:55 by Azuardo )

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Really hope to learn more about Animal Crossing 3DS and its new features in the future. Might bet me into the series again if it's fresh enough Smilie.

EDIT : And I badly want proper Mii support in the series too Smilie !

( Edited 27.09.2011 00:06 by Kafei2006 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
SuperAdamio (guest) 27.09.2011#3

The last thing I want is the city back. I really hope they stick to the village - the city was unnecessary, and took away from the really cosy gameplay of living in a village. It'd be great if they had a lot more special visitors, and greater gameplay online. The StreetPass idea sounds great though! 8)

Nice one Ross. Perfect rant, well thought out. I for one have to agree. I didn't pick up lets go to the city because it wasn't justified as enough of a purchase, and also how hot on the heels it was of the DS version. I didn't fancy more.
This time round it sounds like they have changed a fair bit (and lord knows my 3DS could do with some use) via the story and other aspects, but with Animal Crossing, Nintendo shouldn't just stop at one thing. Just keep adding more and more to it, the nature of the game allows them to do it, and yet they haven't utilised it either. Throw in the Spotpass/Street Pass and you have some amazing potential for DLC, trading characters, items, special guests, new stores, store ranges, more items, fossils, fish, bugs. I would like to be able to explore á la Little Kings Story and find settlements to develop, and not just a few either, allow to keep expanding after one has been completed etc.
I hate to draw comparisons, but its connection to Notch's Minecraft is uncanny. Both have randomly generated worlds and let you go wild in them (near enough) maybe having some creation in the world of Animal Crossing to make it feel like you are shaping your town to your tastes instead of doing what the game suggests you should. So much potential, and yet, none of it explored.


The graveyard of any industry is filled with the headstones of companies who decided to keep doing things the same old way. Playing only on the margin, making things just a little bit better. That strategy works....for a while, but ultimately it's fatal. Over the years our industry has come to accept progress simply by what’s on the screen.

Am I the only one that finds this statement ironic? Sure, Nintendo have a habit of shaking things up with their consoles and therin, a 'few' gameplay mechanics. But their games (in the past at least) have all felt samey. Its a double edged blade. Skyward Sword seems to be breaking out of the mold (finally) but others seem stuck in the same rut, Pokemon especailly - I can never shake the feeling that I have played it all before, and have only completed two Pokemon games (Ruby, Diamond). But can also apply to Mario, Metroid etc etc.

Not sure why anyone negative'd your comment, Echoes, because I fully agree, and can't think why anyone else wouldn't either.

There's so much potential with some of Nintendo's games, but they're not making the most of them. You can argue they are bold with some of them though. I mean, who'd have expected them handing out some of their most precious franchises to other devs, and ending up with something like Metroid Prime after the first three 2D Metroid games? They certainly aren't afraid to try new things, but then you look at something like Animal Crossing and Pokémon, and it's strange that they have stuck to the same formula for so long, almost as if they've taken the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach.

I think another factor is that Nintendo don't know how to use DLC properly. Again, there's so much potential with Nintendo's games to really provide a lot of additional content through DLC, such as AC, Mario Kart and Smash Bros. These games only appear once on a Nintendo home console each generation, so without DLC we're stuck with what we get at launch. These types of games should really be making the most of DLC to provide extra incentive to keep playing and provide more fun; the player can always look forward to new things appearing and happening in the games. They bigged up the whole WiiConnect24 crap, and Animal Crossing was really the game they brought up on so many occasions as a prime example of utilising it, but I didn't see anything that really made use of it. But there really is a great opportunity to take advantage of online and forever expand and add replay value to their games, AC especially. I think this generation with 3DS and Wii U will really show whether Nintendo have grasped the idea of online and whether they can make good use of DLC.

Theodore and the Chimpmunks (guest) 27.09.2011#6

Animal Crossing is the perfect example of Nintendo's lazy approach. They make a good game once like Zelda, Mario and now Animal Crossing. Then they rehash the formula again and again without adding anything new. At least CoD adds new features each time. Even your FIFAs and Pro Evos they add extra things and innovate. The only Nintendo product not to do the lazy thing I can think of is Mario Galaxy. Animal Crossing news more than just this small town that does nothing. It needs to go online for more content each day and have new characters and violence!!!

Theodore and the Chimpmunks (guest) said:
Animal Crossing is the perfect example of Nintendo's lazy approach. They make a good game once like Zelda, Mario and now Animal Crossing. Then they rehash the formula again and again without adding anything new. At least CoD adds new features each time. Even your FIFAs and Pro Evos they add extra things and innovate. The only Nintendo product not to do the lazy thing I can think of is Mario Galaxy. Animal Crossing news more than just this small town that does nothing. It needs to go online for more content each day and have new characters and violence!!!

If you think COD adds more new things yearly than Zelda does every few years, then you really need to start playing the games rather than repeating all the crap from trolls around the internet.

Follow Me on twitter :: @Stulaw90 || My Youtube || Backloggery
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Theodore and the Chimpmunks (guest) said:
At least CoD adds new features each time. Even your FIFAs and Pro Evos they add extra things and innovate.

This made my day ! Please don't do this again, you'll kill me with laughter Smilie.

Or wait... was this a troll post ?

( Edited 27.09.2011 12:22 by Kafei2006 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Honestly, all I really want is another portable Animal Crossing with an active online community. That's really all I need and I'm ready to once again lose a big part of my life to the series. I want a lot more content than Let's go to the City had, both new and more of the old, too but I know I'll end up buying it anyway. Smilie

Oh and have we actually gotten any solid information about new stuff so far? I think all we have to form our opinion from right now are things we saw in the few trailers and screenshots, which isn't a lot to go by. Unless they're being extremely quiet about this game, I think it might be a while till we see its release next year, possibly Q3/Q4.

( Edited 27.09.2011 13:58 by SirLink )

Blackcat (guest) 30.09.2011#10

I think you are right they do need to add more stuff to AC,but on the 3D version I heard they have I lot more stuff added to it.I don't now exacly what changes has been added becouse it hasn't came out were I'm from,but I'm sure it will be mmore fun than the other ACs.Smilie

Blackcat (guest) 30.09.2011#11

Oopps that coment had a lot of mistakes in it sorrySmilie

Jacko (guest) 30.09.2011#12

I hope they add the caves and stuff that sounds realy fun.Oh and your paragragh was nice.

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