Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Animal Crossing, Part 1: The Return

Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time playing Animal Crossing knows how extensively complex it is, and at the same time how boringly shallow it can be. With me, Animal Crossing sits somewhere between Sim and RPG. There are many tasks that won't take care of them self, as well as tons of things to be done and tons of dialog to be read. After the initial euphoria of the game wears off, you'll get bogged down in repetitive tasks, seeking the enjoyment you once felt, shortly after beginning.

With the many things Nintendo did right with the game, I also feel they executed some things poorly. But I also feel that level of quality control only comes through trial and error, which Nintendo couldn't foresee, obviously.

Back in 2005 I got my first Gamecube from a friend, who was about to toss it into the trash because it wasn't reading discs anymore. Since I love tinkering with broken video game systems, I decided to take on the project. After I managed to get the system open, I adjusted the laser and gave it a test, to which it passed. After buying a few games and playing the system regularly, the system quickly reverted back to having trouble reading discs. Soon, the only game I could play was Animal Crossing because I believe it only uses the disc to boot and save the game.

The system didn't last long and soon I packed the poor dead Gamecube into it's box and put it on a shelf in the closet, never to see light again until it was time to go into the great dumpster in the backyard. I kept the memory card and sold off the games, which now I wish I hadn't. Only on occasion did the poor people of my Animal Crossing ever enter into my mind as a "What Ever Happened to?" thought.

When I picked up another Gamecube I was eager to get back to Animal crossing and get the ball rolling again, just to see what may have happened to my slum town. I popped the game in and loaded my town, aptly named Hell. "Have a good time in Hell", the NPC quipped after loading my game.

Once I was back in Hell, things slowly started to come back to me. My town was overrun with weeds, as anyone who has played Animal Crossing would understand, and the towns folk all greeted my with a hint of anger as they proclaimed they hadn't seen me in 77 months! This puts the last time I played Animal Crossing approximately in July 2005, which makes sense because I still have 5 May tickets for Nook's drawing.

As I started to regain my knowledge of Animal Crossing I also had to refer to online sources that opened my mind to totally new options that I never knew about, mostly the Gameboy Advance features. I knew there were special things hidden throughout the game that were unlockable through various manners, but I never knew some involved attaching the GBA to Gamecube cable to your Gameboy Advance and turning it on to sync up with Animal Crossing.

After much exploring and acting as though those 77 months never occurred, I was back in the saddle and playing through the game like I had previously. After playing for about 4 hours the game started it's slow draw into grinding. I had spoken to everyone in town, I had sold all the things I didn't want, shipped off all the fossils I had forgot to (some 77 months ago!) and I had even went to the basement and played through my NES game collection.

What else was there to do...? Part 2 below!

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