Tom Nook also neutered
Animal Crossing is a series about doing whatever you want, with a few loose goals put in place if you choose to pursue them. It’s one of the least punishing series ever made. One of the few times you might feel anything unpleasant in the series is if you try to cheat by hitting reset, presumably to undo an in-game “mistake” like failing to catch a cool fish or having a bad interaction with a talking penguin.
Reseting causes a character named Mr. Resetti to pop up the next time you start the game, who then lectures you about how you shouldn’t have cheated. Along with Psycho Mantis’s mind reading in Metal Gear Solid, it’s one of the more creative fourth wall-breaking moments in gaming history. For a game that’s otherwise focused on giving the player total freedom to apply negative reinforcement by forcing you to read a lengthy (and often hilarious) in-game lecture seems perfect.
But maybe it was too perfect, as according to the latest entry of Iwata Asks, Mr. Resetti’s chastising was enough to bring some players to tears, presumably out of guilt. That led the developers to make him an optional in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. They also changed the underlying goal of the game from paying off rent to Tom Nook to improving the town as its new mayor.
New Leaf is quickly moving towards becoming the best-selling game in the series, so it’s clear that Nintendo made the right move. Still, I can’t help but feel like Animal Crossing is better when it can make players feel awful. It adds contrast to what can otherwise be a wholly soft experience. Without dark we can have no light, without Yin there is no Yang, without stress you can’t relax, and other cliches. How about you? How do you feel about Animal Crossing with zero feel-bad potential?