Seven features from the series that should return in Animal Crossing on Switch

In addition to whatever new ideas the developers have

A proper Animal Crossing on Wii U would, in all honesty, have been a waste of a game. The system constantly struggled in sales and the series has never exactly been a blockbuster when it’s been tied to a stationary home console. It’s always at its best when it’s on the go, letting us visit our little slice of paradise wherever we may be. Just last week I spotted a woman playing New Leaf on her Galaxy New Nintendo 3DS and next November or December, I expect I’ll see her playing Animal Crossing on her Switch.

Getting confirmation of a new entry in the franchise at the tail end of the last Nintendo Direct was the perfect way to cap off the presentation. It’ll be seven years since the original release of New Leaf by the time its Switch follow-up hits store shelves, the longest gap of time between mainline entries in the franchise. Even with just this tiny announcement that a new title is on the way, there is much hype surrounding it and I’m sure millions of people around the world are wondering which direction Nintendo will take the series in.

While I’m sure we all have ideas of what new features we’d like to see in the game — I personally would love to see the idea of Tortimer Island expanded to different travel spots such as a winter lodge for skiing or a European castle to tour — I wanted to take this opportunity to look at prior entries in the series to note the features that should make a return in Animal Crossing on Switch. With four mainline games and three prominent spin-offs, there are a lot of ideas Nintendo EAD Software Development Group No. 2 can revisit for the upcoming title.

Animal Crossing – The Dump

Of all the games, this was actually the most difficult for me to choose a single element from. There are several features found in the original Animal Crossing that have been absent in subsequent entries. Obviously, playable NES games are probably right at the top of most people’s wish list, but I’d rather focus this article on more realistic possibilities. For Animal Crossing, I went back and forth between the Sports Fair, Morning Aerobics, and the various balls that are found around town, but ultimately my warmest memory of the game has to do with my daily visits to the town dump.

If you started the series with Wild World, you probably best know this feature as the recycling bin. In Animal Crossing, the dump served a practical purpose where players could get rid of items they no longer wanted or had storage for without hurting their town rating. I never used it that way. Rather, every morning, I’d go check the dump to see what treasures my neighbors had left there for me. In the early days of my time with Animal Crossing, the dump would be where I’d find new clothes, furniture, stationery, and everything else I couldn’t buy because all my money was going towards my mortgage. I still remember the very first item I found there: an umbrella, which was good because it was also raining my first day in town.

Animal Crossing: Wild World – Stargazing

If there is any game in the series that made Animal Crossing the type of franchise people lose their heads over when a new title is announced, it’s this one. Wild World hit at just the right time on the Nintendo DS when it debuted alongside the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. The game’s 11 million in sales proved the series is at its best when it’s portable and if you need any further evidence to support this claim, look at City Folk‘s sales numbers.

Wild World did away with a lot of the features found in the first game in the series, but did add several elements of its own I still enjoy today. The Roost is perhaps its best addition and thankfully it’s still alive and well in the franchise. Stargazing, though, hasn’t been as lucky. In Wild World and City Folk, players could visit Celeste at the observatory to create their own constellations. It was a neat feature to have in Wild World as the curved world perspective gave players a great glimpse of the sky above. The observatory gave Celeste a unique role in the world and I was a bit sad to see her relegated to gift shop girl in New Leaf. On Switch, I’d really love the opportunity to chart the stars once more.

Animal Crossing: City Folk – The City

City Folk is unquestionably the Animal Crossing game I’ve spent the least amount of time with. It had probably been a year since I touched Wild World when it released and I remember being greatly excited about going to the city in the game. Indeed, for the first two months I spent with the game, I would make daily trips to the city expecting each time to be something revolutionary. It wasn’t, and while I think Phineas and his cart gave the game a welcomed injection of whimsy, the city, in its own way, made the towns we were living in somewhat less special. What were once special occasions became ordinary instances.

That said, I like the concept of the city and I’d like to see the idea return on Switch. Nintendo is now making us pay for online and since Wild World that has been a big selling point of the series. It would be nice to see the city reworked in a way as some sort of hub for players to meet at. Have some stores exclusive to it without taking away from the unique nature of the player town. We have The Roost where players can get coffee, why not introduce other restaurants like a soda shop or frozen yogurt place? Or maybe throw a bone to those asking for a return of NES games to the series by hosting an arcade in the city where we can play 8-bit games made especially for AC on Switch? There’s an endless number of ways Nintendo can approach this if it wants to give the concept another go.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf – A Customizable Town

It’s going to be pretty interesting to see if Nintendo is able to top the brilliance of Animal Crossing: New Leaf with its sequel on Switch because it truly is the peak of everything the series is about. It gave our characters realistic proportions, let us finally hang up wall art, allowed us to swim, and, most significantly, gave us the ability to construct new facilities and decor around our town where we saw fit. Getting the chance to run our town with ordinances and public works projects gave us more control than ever before, but I’d actually like to see it go a step further.

A vivid memory I have of New Leaf involves a delightful grove I set up in the lower right corner of my town near the cliff path to the beach. I had acquired every type of fruit available in the game and planted them all together in a welcoming formation. When all fruit would blossom at the same time, it was magical. Then some stupid new resident decided to build their house there and ruin it. I never forgave New Leaf for that and if this level of town customization returns on Switch, I’d like for there to be some way for me to prevent new residents from ruining my creations of nature.

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer – Yards

When Happy Home Designer released in 2015, I went HAM on it. I bought the Animal Crossing amiibo cards, I picked up the figures, I stopped whatever else I was doing to devote my life to interior decoration. It’s my absolute favorite part of the franchise and to make a spin-off solely dedicated to that activity is like Nintendo was making a game specifically for me. 

While I’d love the entire concept to return for Switch, I think more important than letting me design everybody’s house is letting all players have a yard. Introduced in Happy Home Designer and further expanded upon in Pocket Camp, outdoor furniture lets residents of the town extend their design philosophy outside of the four walls of their home and add some much-needed character to the environment. I’d love to see this return for Switch because unique character decor shouldn’t be confined solely to indoor spaces.

Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival – The Board Game

Depending on your view, amiibo Festival is either the worst or second worst game in the Animal Crossing series, not including all those apps and whatever the heck Animal Crossing Plaza was supposed to be. Writing about it right now is a bit nostalgic for me as it’s the first game I ever reviewed for Destructoid and I did not care for it. While the entire package wasn’t anything anybody wanted at the time, at the end of my review I noted the central board game would be a welcomed activity for any future entry in the series. I stand by that assessment. It’d be nice if, when I’m playing with friends over the online service I’m now having to pay for, we can do more than just fish, catch bugs, shake threes or talk with one another.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp – Amenities

I’m not quite sure Pokect Camp is working out the way Nintendo or really anybody was hoping for. In just under a year on the market, it’s passed $50 million in revenue according to Sensor Tower. It’s the slowest of the three Nintendo mobile games to hit that mark. I see people on Twitter showing pictures of their characters in holiday clothes, pointing out the last time they actually opened the app. I still play it on the regular, but since the introduction of fortune cookies, I’ve been less enthused about it. With a gamut of potentially great mobile F2P games on the way, I may be about done with it. I just hope the series isn’t done with one specific feature of the game.

I absolutely adore the amenities found in Pocket Camp. The pool, the half-pipe, the picnic, the rock stage, the tree swing; they all add a level of interactivity to the game that really hasn’t been seen much in the past. Seeing a camper lounging by the pool or doing their best Tony Hawk impression is simply fun and goes further in making it feel as though the animals in the game actually live in the whole world and not just their individual spaces. If public works projects return in Animal Crossing on Switch, they absolutely should have the type of interactivity seen in Pocket Camp.

CJ Andriessen
Editor-at-Large – CJ has been a contributor to Destructoid since 2015, originally writing satirical news pieces before transitioning into general news, features, and other coverage that was less likely to get this website sued.