As dear as Animal Crossing is to me, my enthusiasm petered out with City Folk; the third game in the series released in 2008. The game was little more than a cross between the original for the GameCube and the DS version, Wild World. Because I played the previous titles extensively, the lack of change did little to keep me interested. By the time City Folk had come out I was ready to tell Mr. Tom Nook to take his chores and stick them up his…cranny?
So, I'm sure for many others the pressing question is how many changes have been added to Animal Crossing's familiar formula? And, is it taking advantage of the 3DS’ new features? The details of increased customablity and improved graphics leave me feeling hopeful.
Not long after arriving in your new town will you be thrown into the role of mayor, providing a totally new way of playing Animal Crossing. Remember Mayor Tortimer? All he ever did was show up for holidays and festivals, so now you get your shot at running things. As mayor you will be assisted by your own secretary, who will support you and your decisions to add benches, street lamps, and other landmarks to your town. If you’re worried you won’t be able to relax and “take it easy” as so many Animal Crossing players are fond of, fear not, as you have the freedom to be as negligent a mayor as you want.
Since its inception, Animal Crossing has always tried to incorporate a social aspect into the game. In the Animal Crossing for the GameCube, players could visit their friend’s town with the help of memory card swapping, or easily visit other homes shared on the same system. Features such as gift giving and letter sending have been there from the beginning to give players a way of sharing and connecting. With each addition to the series, social interaction has been enhanced with whatever new features become available; for instance Wii-speak, Wi-fi, and DS Suitcase mode. The expectation is that the 3DS will bring forth new ways of interacting with other players. Thus far, one of the new features developers have spoken about is the use of StreetPass. Each time you walk pass someone with StreetPass enabled, you can view their house in the collection of model homes found in the strip mall.
As expected, new furniture and clothing designs are being added to the already large collection, but other changes include more customizing options. Previously you were only able to change the color of the roof of your house, but Anime Crossing 3DS has made it so that the whole outside of the house, fence, and even mail box can be altered. What’s more, players will have the ability to “build their own furniture.” Patterns that you design can be added to couch cushions and other pieces, and the color of furniture can be changed.
You may have noticed that character bodies have been slightly elongated; this is to allow new outfit coordinating. Characters will be able to mix and match tops, bottoms, and even shoes. Gone are the days dull one-pieces or shorts that come magically attached to shirts. Animal character designs have also been tweaked; making large animals larger and small animals smaller, rather than every species being roughly the same size.
I'm glad to see Animal Crossing adding new ways of galavanting around town (such as swimming, sitting on park benches, and landscaping) while keeping up with old favorites like fishing, bug catching, and treasure hunting. The game has no official release date, but summer 2012 seems to be the earliest possibility.