A Nostalgic Trip Back in Time…
Animal Crossing is a series that has always had a close spot to my heart. I will admit, when I first heard about the Animal Crossing series, it didn’t appeal to me straight away, and when I first played it, I struggled to see the full appeal of it. After some time with this heart warming series, however, I really could appreciated what Animal Crossing brought to the table. Countless hours and many sequels later, it continued to flood my head with memories that make me look back on, making me wish I could experience those fond memories all over again. I am going to indulge in some of my most fond memories in the Animal Crossing series, mainly from the Wild World and City Folk titles.
My first experience owning and playing an Animal Crossing title properly started on a late, rainy night. I was tucked away in my bed and I picked up my Nintendo DS. I thought to give Animal Crossing: Wild World a try. I had previously played the games, but my time with them was brief; I never had enough time, let alone the patience. This time was different, however; I could finally focus on and get a good sense of the game properly with nothing but the dim light of my DS shrouded by the night.
I turned on my DS and was greeted by the cute narration of one of the animal folks saying “Nintendo.” It was a small sample of the game’s cute charm and for what was to come. I’ll always remember that it made me smile and put me in a great mood before I begun my daily activities in the town of Kakoriko, which was the name I give my town in every game. I started a new game, and was greeted by Kappa, a anthropomorphic turtle who was driving the cab I was sitting in all by myself as I was making my way to a brand new life. It was travelling in the thick of the night, with the rain rattling on the cab’s metal sheet roof. I didn’t know who this Kappa was, but he asked me questions which came to my belief was the game’s way of generating my town. After my long conversation with Kappa, I had arrived at my town. The town was quiet with nothing but the sound of a few crickets softly chirping in the background, setting the mood.
Once I arrived in my town, I was greeted by its first resident, Tom Nook, who was notorious for being a cash grabbing land lord, but in my eyes, he was always misjudged. Tom was an excellent land lord; he let you pay your mortgage with great flexibility, letting you pay however much you want, whenever you want.
It was that night that I could foresee myself really getting invested in this game. I found myself being sucked into the game’s charm and was excited to begin my new life with a town full of fun loving critters with warm, open arms. Some cute, some creepy, and some even just downright weird.
I had enjoyed the game a lot at this point, but it wasn’t until I had gotten my hands on Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Nintendo Wii where I got my first taste of online multiplayer, which introduced me to a side of the series that I had never experienced before. I remember joining a website called the Animal Crossing Community, where fans of the series would all gather around to talk anything Animal Crossing related. They gave tips, share ideas, invite other players to their towns, and even talk about general topics. My addiction for the game had begun to grow at an alarming rate as my days would consist of meeting players, sharing friend codes, and visiting other towns. My friend list was flooded with players who I met online, and at one point I had to remove players to make room for others. The Animal Crossing Community was one of the friendliest communities I have ever been a part of and is the biggest reason why I have stuck with the series to this day. I remember the excitement that went through my body when I’d hear that sweet jingle and a text box would pop up saying “A player has arrived!” I spent hours and hours of my day having guests over, playing hide and seek, sharing fruits, furniture, and just chatting, and likewise when I visited their towns.
By night I would browse the forums of the Animal Crossing Community and dig deep into conversations on some of my favorite posts. My favorite forum was always the general topics section where I remember always checking out the “what made and ruined your day” post. It was one of the most popular topics on the whole site with a majority of its active users posting in it daily. I was so caught up in the post that I would constantly check when somebody posted something new in it. Everyone on that community wasn’t just some random person; a lot of us got familiar with each other, especially the regularly active users, and it was like we were all friends. It was a great sense to know and befriend others who enjoyed the series as much as me. As soon as I finished school, I would jump straight to my computer and log into Animal Crossing Community and see which fellow users would have their gates open.
Animal Crossing not only was a game I enjoyed, but it also got me through some rough patches in my life—more rough than falling into three consecutive pitfall seeds. It was like Animal Crossing was a way for me to forget about normal life and jump into this second life. I didn’t have a single worry in the world while I played; all the animals were my friend, I could spend all day fishing, digging treasure, catching bugs, and decorating my house. My problems always went away when I was playing Animal Crossing, it was the perfect escape. When things got really tough I would spend days on end just getting absorbed into my animal village. As long as I was playing, I felt happy.
Night was always my favorite time to play because I enjoyed the atmosphere. From the music to the night life, it was always calm and relaxing. The music in Animal Crossing always set the tone of day and night, night time especially. Sometimes I would just wander aimlessly around my town at night because I wanted to listen to the music and crickets chirping, getting myself as absorbed as I could. At night was when friends would always visit, or when I would visit them, as they all lived overseas. These people felt like friends and we visited each other regularly, always having a lot of fun together. I enjoyed the game so much more when people were over, sometimes we would spend hours in each other’s towns. It never felt old playing with people, and with the Wii speak we could actually communicate. Even though it wasn’t the best at online communication, it was enough for us to understand each other.
Honestly, my fondest memories were basically with Wild World and City Folk. I did, of course, adore New Leaf, but at the moment it is still not at that stage where I can start getting nostalgic about. To be honest, I already know I didn’t have anywhere near as good memories with it as I did the previous two titles, even though I think from a game play and design perspective, it is far better. I don’t even remember using online much for New Leaf.
Sadly, the Animal Crossing Community became a lot less active, as there are much more convenient ways for people to meet others, get ideas, and communicate in general. I do still go on Animal Crossing Community, but more for a feel good moment. Some users are still on it, but it is sad to see what was once a bustling and vibrant community become not-so-bustling and vibrant. There were many attempts to get the site more active, but each attempt failing one after the other, I would appreciate the effort, and even hoped it would work, but I knew it wouldn’t last long term, as people went to places like Reddit and Facebook instead.
Those are my fondest memories of Animal Crossing. Even though I haven’t picked up the game in a few years, it is always a game that sits in the back of my mind. I hope the series has given others as many great memories as it has to me. Here I sit, hoping for a new entry for the Nintendo Switch console… Well, one can hope!