Sunday, May 10, 2020

Animal Crossing: The Hero We Need, But Not Right Now

Turns out Animal Crossing wasn't as much fun as I had hoped it would be. I do rather suspect it has less to do with the game itself and more to do with my current mood.

I played a tremendous amount of Animal Crossing: New Leaf (the 3DS predecessor to the current game). And while many things in my life has changed, the world of Animal Crossing has not. And that's probably some of the problem. I've a large amount of the Animal Crossing gameplay loop within the past several years. And it really is the same. The items, the villagers, the mechanics are just ported forward to the Switch version. Nintendo really is concentrating on shipping a minimally viable product at launch and the filling the actual extra features with free or paid DLC nowadays.

The new stuff at launch is worthy of a shoulder shrug. Slightly more viable multiplayer? Terraforming? Endlessly repeatable quests for a different but similar currency? I'm sure this a boon to first time or super dedicated players. But my GameCube copy of the original still works and things just haven't moved enough for me.

But there are other things happening here as well. If you haven't noticed we are in a bit of a pandemic. I've now been stuck in my house and immediate surroundings for about two months now and even this introvert is starting to spinning his wheels. Animal Crossing is mostly about nurturing and organizing your ... house and immediate surroundings. I've had quite enough of that already. Thanks.

It makes sense why I've fallen for Lord of the Rings Online so hard, a game that I bounced off of completely when it first came out in 2007. Back in 2007 I could actually leave my house and do interesting things. In fact I was in college on my own for the first time. That's exactly what I was doing with my free time.

To riff of the famous Clerks 2 skit about Lord of the Rings (NSFW), it's mostly a story about people walking. My ass would love to leave the shire right now.

And the shire I kinda what I have. I live in a small town, in a rural area where the closest major city is several hours away and currently closed because it resides in a different country than me.  There is evil rumored throughout the land but none of it has really hit us, and many in my town don't think it's a threat at all.

My house is a cozy little hobbit hole with a fireplace and plenty of supplies. I rather want to order a sign, 'No Admittance Except on Party Business', to keep my version of the Sackville-Bagginses out.

But I'm not a hobbit, I am, at last check, a man. And as such I require more adventure and whimsy than a hobbit. Cozy and familiar have been not only my last two months, but several months preceding thanks to the Minnesota winter.

I log in to Animal Crossing and do my chores. And then I log off and do my real chores. Having to decide my outfit for the day is laborious enough to do just once. Picking weeds and general lawn care is something I don't need a duplicate of either.

Wrong game at the wrong time. But maybe in 13 years I'll be in the mood for Animal Crossing as well.

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