My nephew came over for a visit. I told him to bring all his DS and GBA games so I could try them out. I wanted to see if there was anything fun out there and his selection is completely different than mine. I played with about eight or nine games before I put his Animal Crossing into my DS Lite. I didnâ€™t expect to like it anymore than the previous mind-numbing games. I was expecting Sims for kids. I hated the Sims, so I had zero hope for Animal Crossing.
How could I have been so wrong?!
My nephew hadnâ€™t played in a long time and his town had fallen into disrepair with garbage all over the ground. Additionally, there were cool things to pick up (so many that my pockets were full very quickly). I played with his game Saturday evening for about four hours while he and Mike endlessly played the mini-games on Super Monkey Ball.
Sunday morning, I was on the phone with the local game store trying to find out how soon they opened. I had to wait until noon to buy my own copy of the game.
Thatâ€™s when the really interesting thing happenedâ€¦
I bought a used game at the store.
â€œDo you guys clear out these cards when you get them or am I going to have to delete the previous ownerâ€™s stuff?â€
â€œWe donâ€™t do anything with them. If it doesnâ€™t work, bring it back, but yes, youâ€™ll probably have to delete the old stuff.â€
â€œDoes this come with the book?â€
â€œNope, just the card.â€
I saved five dollars, but ended up not getting the book. Oh well, Mike assured me that if I get stuck, I can figure out things online.
When I put the used Animal Crossing game into my DS, I was confronted with a very different world than my nephewâ€™s. It was a barren desert. â€œI guess you can choose the climate when you build your world, Mike. Look at this one itâ€™s a desert.â€ There were few trees and lots of sand. It looked hot, barren and desolate; kind of like Northern Nevada.
I deleted the previous ownerâ€™s town, Las Habras, and waded through all the warnings about killing everyone in the town and never being able to get them back. I felt guilty for massacring the citizens of Las Habras, but I wanted to start a town of my own. One that wasnâ€™t a desert and didnâ€™t have litter and garbage all over.
When I set up my town, Merriton, I realized the truth. Las Habras wasnâ€™t a desert because you get to choose the climate. Las Habras was a desert because the previous owner had killed all the insects, fish and plants. After playing with Las Habras and my nephewâ€™s towns, I never even knew that there were insects that you could catch. I couldnâ€™t find any because they had all been caught to extinction. Las Habras was a desert because some of the resources are limited. My nephew had garbage everywhere because his town was neglected. The only way to keep my town beautiful and garden-like was to limit how many fish and insects I caught. I would have to spend my money on plants and saplings instead of furniture, wall coverings, carpeting and clothing.
Saddest of all, when I visited my townâ€™s museum, all I could find were empty exhibit halls. I walked past the empty aquariums and galleries with a sad sense of guilt. My job would be to fill the museum with all that my town had to offer.
I played for eight hours on Sunday just earning money to pay off my humble house (with no plans on upgrades) and catching fish and insects for the museum. When I catch a fish or insect that the museum already has, I release it. I havenâ€™t figured out how to fill the museum with paintings yet and I havenâ€™t bought a shovel yet, so I havenâ€™t found any dinosaur fossils. My whole goal is to create a museum that makes me happy to visit and keep the town beautiful. I love to walk around and hear the crickets. I love to see the butterflies. I want them to stay in my town.
Most importantly, I donâ€™t want Merriton to become a desert.
Whenever the other characters in the game tell me that my house is small or plain, I donâ€™t care because I donâ€™t want a cool house. In fact, when they give me things to put in my house, I either regift them or sell them. Iâ€™d rather sell wallpaper than fish. Once they are sold to Tom Nook, they are gone forever.
It seems like the fruit on the trees and the seashells are renewable resources, so that is how I have been paying off my house. I use the cherries and seashells to pay off my debt and the fish and insects go to the museum.
Why is it that Iâ€™m obsessed with Merriton, but I couldnâ€™t have cared less about whether my Sims did their dishes or practiced for their acting career? Is it a world just different enough from my own world that I am completely lost? Is it the cute characters and how funny they are?
I donâ€™t know. All I know is that Iâ€™m withholding Animal Crossing privileges until I get my real world chores done. Itâ€™s that motivating and enjoyable.
Update 10-16-06: After weeks of obsessing over this game, I have written a follow-up. You can read it here: