The gaming types among you will inevitably have read about – or maybe even played – Animal Crossing over the past few weeks, Nintendo’s ultra-addictive super-cute town simulator thingy for the 3DS.
But despite the fairly unanimous feeling that it’s pretty much The Best Thing Ever – coupled with my fairly obsessive personality, it has utterly failed to grip me. And you know what? I’d rather play stuff on my iPad; stuff like Kingdom Conquest II.
For those unfamiliar with the Animal Crossing concept, essentially you’re the child mayor of a little village populated by adorable talking animals, and it’s your job to make the town flourish.
How do you accomplish that? Well, there are several things you can do to earn money, such as selling the fruit you’ve picked, the bugs and fish you’ve caught, the fossils you’ve dug up, alongside unwanted clothes and household stuff.
With that money, you can improve both your town (by building bridges and shops, for examps) and your mayoral home (extra floors, a basement, etc).
And, uhm, that’s Animal Crossing in a nutshell. It’s incredibly simple, but insanely addictive. Well, supposedly. I feel like I’ve just spent a fortnight on heroin and merely shrugged it off. ‘Meh; it’s alright, I suppose.’
The problem I have with Animal Crossing is that it’s so unbelievably needy. I wouldn’t mind if you could dip in and out, but the game punishes you if you neglect your town.
Flowers wilt, weeds grow, and inhabitants threaten to move out. It becomes like a second full-time job. Er, that’s assuming you already have a full-time job. But you know what I mean.
A friend of mine invested something outrageous like 50 hours in his first week of Animal Crossing. Helps that he does next to nothing at “work”, but either way, that’s an embarrassing amount of time.
And for what? There’s no end game. No boss. No story as such. And I can’t say I was particularly bothered about seeing my town or house grow. I was oddly unmoved by the whole experience. And this is coming from someone who set aside dozens of hours to find all 250 pigeons in GTA IV.
It’s just the whole neediness thing; it’s such a turn-off. I mean, as if being mayor isn’t demanding enough, the inhabitants regularly ask you to run errands. WHY? Do it yourself, you lazy sonofa… I don’t see you running a town.
Adding to my nonchalance, I’m heavily invested in my other town, that in Kingdom Conquest II. There’s nothing cute or overly demanding about it; it’s ludicrously deep and I’m genuinely interested to see my town evolve.
I’ve documented my experience extensively in Kingdom Conquest II preview (aka: Notes from a very confused man) and Kingdom Conquest II diary: light at the end of the tunnel.
True, I’m obliged to stick with Kingdom Conquest II for review purposes (I’ll get there soon, promise!), but the telltale sign is the lack of resentment. I never find myself picking up Kingdom Conquest II and thinking, ‘Boo! I just want to play Animal Crossing.’
See, as a dedicated gamer, I do occasionally find myself cursing the fact that I have adult responsibilities such as, y’know, a job (a luxury stress, admittedly). I’d be quite happy to sit in my pants and play videogames all the livelong day.
And given the choice, that game would not be Animal Crossing. On paper, we’re a match made in heaven, and you're hella cute, but the chemistry just isn’t there. I'm afraid I'm gonna have to go with the medieval town and army of undead monsters. We can still be friends though, yeah?