If you married a non-gamer spouse, then you’ve probably experienced the same things I have. My wife stopped playing games after Mario, and she avoids anything new. I continuously look for any game that I may be able to get her into. To say the least, it’s been near impossible. While I have had some success stories, such as Mario Kart: Double Dash and Warioware, nothing has come close to Animal Crossing.
Animal Crossing is something really special. For some inexplicable reason, it grabs the adoration of everyone from the shmup hardcore crowd to the casual “video games are for dorks who fantasize about half-naked elves” crowd.
But why is it special? You basically just run around to collect stuff and manage your house all while looking at crappy graphics. When I first saw the game, I thought it looked like the stupidest thing in the world. I’m still not completely sure why it’s such a special game, but I hope to nail, at least, a few points.
No decapitating here
It’s relaxing. Everything about this game, from the music to the atmosphere, the activities you do to the in-game rain, makes you want to just lay under your warm covers and play during a rainy weekend day.
No one is trying pwn you while calling you a newb. There isn’t an evil empire trying to bring death and destruction to the world. No zombie dog is jumping out a window making you leave man stains in your pants. No one is trying to decapitate you. You’re just strolling around your town with no real goal, just minding your own business.
I love action-oriented games that are so scary I defecate in my pants and curse at the T.V. But sometimes, after all the stress that games like Ikaruga and Resident Evil 4 cause, you just need a nice, relaxing, stress free experience.
That gopher is damn funny
Anyone or anything that makes you laugh, you naturally feel more affinity to. Your friends are probably your friends in part because they make you laugh.
With that said, the writing in Animal Crossing is fantastic. The jokes are completely corny, but in a funny sort of a way. Each character has his or her own personality, and there are several dozen different characters. They talk about everything from their house décor to how chubby they feel. Sure they repeat themselves sometimes, but you know you were sad and pissed off when they decided to move away after they had lived in your town for several months.
Damn right, those are boobs I drew on my custom shirt
As a society, we’re all about customization. It creates a sense of individuality in a culture where everyone is dying to get noticed on some level in some setting. We also like to customize ourselves and our possessions with things that we think are cool, not what the original manufacturer put on as a default.
In Animal Crossing, almost everything is customizable: the furniture and layout of the house, your clothes, hairstyle, radio music, etc. Even the town’s layout is open to your every whim, from planting your own garden to sadistically cutting down the town trees.
Besides, who wouldn’t love the ability to draw boobs on your original T-shirt design?
Sometimes simple is fun
Everything in the game is simple. The customization is fun, but simple. A very minimum amount of buttons are used in the game. The concept of the game is simple. The different game play functions are simple. The music is simple. Hell, even the graphics are simple. Sometimes, after having to manage a million different factors on how I customize my characters, weapons, etc, in different games, sometimes you need simple.
If you haven’t played Animal Crossing, try it. No matter what the game looks like, try it. If you’ve already played it, introduce it to a nongamer you know. If you do, suddenly you’ll find yourself spending the 4th of July with that person playing Animal Crossing as the town celebrates the holiday, mailing each other items that you need for your house, or discussing your latest T-shirt creation.