One year ago on June 9th 2013, Animal Crossing New Leaf released to a particularly rabid fanbase on the 3DS. New Leaf presented a logical jump for fans of the quirky slice of life sim game. Instead of playing as a strange midget 10-year-old, you play as a teenage something with far better defined proportions. Instead of moving into a strange animal town as a new resident, you are told to use your humanity to better a town of animals as the new mayor. Instead of being limited to designing simple square pattern designs, you can specify designs onto t-shirts, tanks, jackets, dresses, hats, or postboards. A host of new animals were introduced and the new multiplayer options along with an emphasis on taking photos to share added fuel to the fandom fire. So how was one year of Animal Crossing gone?
Meet colorful creatures and people
Very few of my original townies are still around. In fact, Hopper the grumpy penguin is just about the only original left. Jeremiah the frog, Bill the duck, and Lolly the cat, among others, have all left. But over the course of the year, many villagers have come and gone. In fact, having a storied history of villagers really makes your main street look impressive when all your past townies shop around as visitors. One kangaroo even moved back
and remembered my name from her previous stay in Harbor!
I'll miss old favorites like Lolly, who was like a university student, only a cat. She always asked me to catch fish and bugs for her to study.
Soleil was a snooty hamster obsessed with image. But with perfectly coiffed hair like hers, who could blame her?
Bill was a tiny duck with the best muscles on any athlete. When your house is your own personal bathhouse and swimming pool, I guess you would love to spend all that time exercising.
Annalisa was about ready to move out of my girlfriend's town when I happened upon her while she was packing and convinced her to move to Harbor. It's too bad the nicest anteater this side of Japan couldn't stay for good.
Snake, a pink rabbit training to America's Next Top Ninja. Pink probably isn't the best color for stealth but that didn't stop you from running laps around Harbor.
And a special mention to Rodney, the ugliest hamster around. I was glad the smug bastard moved out of my hoe. My girlfriend was less thrilled to find out he took a liking to Yerba Bu.
Of course, the game wouldn't be where it currently is now without its sizable multiplayer aspect. I even bought the game (and system) for my girlfriend and we play together regularly. A few times, neighbors would move over to our towns either out of curiosity or because we offered each other the right to convince prospective mover.
Besides my girlfriend though, I've played with a lot of other friends, both here and at work. Every other month I'd meet someone new at work who just bought a 3DS and Animal Crossing. And since I'd been playing since launch, I'd have the honor of handing down some helpful donations.
Collecting all the things
There's no shortage of things to collect in Animal Crossing. Grabbing stuff is probably 90% of the game and it appeals to the collectors and kleptomaniacs out there. Whether its all the masks of the Japanese theater set or the entire set of Astro furniture to make a room look like a space station. And it doesn't necessarily stop at complete collections either. I have a room with no official aesthetic unity according to the Happy Home Academy but I've created my own game room, complete with six back-to-back arcade machines that feature Mario and Luigi in a vaguely Street Fighter view.
The multiplayer aspect again rears its pretty face. Every so often I'd exchange items with my girlfriend, particularly when on the prowl for specific items. It's especially a factor since I had access to Gracie's rare item boutique earlier than her and again now that she's started over.
The holidays and events
My favorite holiday by far is Halloween. In fact, I don't like celebrating actual Halloween all that much but preying on my neighbor's base fears and dressing up as a bug with my girlfriend as a ghost must be one of the top 10 cutest things I could do in the game.
Nature competitions are often held on Saturdays too. Sometimes I'd cheat a little and pre-catch a ton of specimens the night before. Usually when the day of the competition came, I'd like talking to my villagers as they parade around town with their nets and fishing poles like they're hot stuff. I know my beetles were the best though. I have the entire bug series of furniture to prove it.
I even checked in on my town during New Years. I missed most of Christmas but I still managed to buy a Christmas tree in time for it and displayed it in my home so that everybody who streetpassed me at work knew I was celebrating properly. Thanksgiving was a time I could celebrate the hallowed American holiday alongside a particularly remarkable turkey chef.
Even simpler birthdays were fun to partake in. Finding a gift was always a special little moment. I actually gave Bonbon, who is a peppy bunny, a rabbit hood item. I gave Jeremiah blue furniture since he's such a big fan of the color. Of course my own birthday wasa nice occasion to see my local animals celebratemy special day and give me a birthday cake. And I should mention all the countless letters and gifts I gave to my girlfriend. On long days where we wouldn't see each other over Skype because of work, sometimes we'd just leave our gates open for us to visit each other. And on more than one occasion we'd surprise each other with letters with gifts.
And all the other mayors
A special thanks has to be had for all the people I've played with over the past year.
I considered Destructoid's own AlphaDeus an Animal Crossing philanthropist of sorts. The sometimes troubled mayor threw himself into the game and made incredible progress, to the point where he honored many fellow mayors with kind gifts and donations. I only wish Dtoid's former resident musician only the best.
ZombiePlatypus was one of the many people to share and help in AlphaDeus' large scale efforts.
Steffu of Almond, one of my friends, is also a talented artist. I'd enjoy her Swapnotes when the service was still online as well as more than one trade and favor. When Lolly was getting ready to move before I could convince her to stay, Steff offered her boyfriend to adopt Lolly rather then to let her fade into Animal Crossing oblivion.
My coworker, Josie, continues her interest in the game to this day. Though she worries for the day when Kyle moves out of her town. To be fair, I'd be the same way with O'Hare.
And finally my girlfriend, Adriana aka Kitty Olivas aka Miss G. For those empty days filled with wonder, thoselong nights together on the island, those days spent harvesting your orchards, or those days just spend idling on a bed together while we Skyped.
For most of the people who have moved on, it's understandable with it being a simple game. Animal Crossing has always been a favorite of mine since the Gamecube days. But for the past year, it's been something special for me and my girlfriend. Animal Crossing is a fine game to slow down with. On long, hard days where it seems like the world is crashing down around you, it's always nice to slow down every once and a while and talk to a rabbit wearing a straw hat about how vintage his book collection is.