Note: As you’ll see from the date on the images I wrote this post a while ago and my island has developed a lot since then but this sat in my drafts for a while because ironically, I was too busy playing Animal Crossing and kept forgetting to publish it…
I am an Animal Crossing virgin. Technically… All I have played in the past is Pocket Camp which I don’t think is as big as any previous AC games (I could be wrong…) I managed to get hold of a Switch for a reasonable price not that long ago and after asking my friends and Twitter what I should get as my first game (Switch games are so expensive! Just going to get one every pay day or so), Animal Crossing seemed like a popular choice. I was worried I had missed the sea plane one it, but my bestie was very keen to get me set up and gave me as much as I could carry to take back to my island to help get me started. She even wrote a guide for me! Usually I am the more experienced gamer so it was a bit of a twist on our relationship, I think she’s enjoying it.
Her: “What is your island flower?”
Me: “I haven’t seen any yet unless… There’s loads of weeds, are weeds my flower?”
Her: “… No”
Prior to starting the game this was my approximate knowledge of it (thanks to Facebook and Twitter): There’s an owl who doesn’t like bugs, everyone hates the Easter Bunny, and parsnips are a really big deal but I’m not sure why.
Within the first 15 minutes of gameplay I managed to grasp the vague plot:
I signed up for this desert island getaway with 2 others (Pashmina and Goose, who is confusingly not a goose). When we get there we have a nice time setting up, I am instantly favoured by our guides, shady Raccoon Tom and his mini-mes. Then Tom starts talking about payment. “Oh no, you don’t have any bells???” You failed to take payment for a lavish holiday upfront? I think that’s on you at this point. Tom has an idea though. Nook miles! Do all the things and pay him off like that! Can’t we beat him up? There’s a crafting table right there, Pashmina, Goose and I could arm ourselves with flimsy axes or spades and launch an attack, freeing ourselves from debt. Mutiny doesn’t seem to be an option though (Animal Crossing: Pirates could have been the sequel/expansion where you can choose an alternative lifestyle and go raid other players islands, assemble a crew and build a sweet boat). Instead the idea is we peacefully learn to craft stuff and build the island into our own little town.
While the mutiny and pirate idea is far cooler in my opinion I instantly appreciated the calm, and no pressure atmosphere the game brings. You may be in debt but Tom isn’t knocking on your door in the middle of the night with a bat (not yet anyway). You go about setting up our island, exploring and building. Or, I do anyway, Pashmina and Goose are just chilling, fishing, chasing butterflies etc. Meanwhile I’m crafting stuff to furnish my tent and the surrounding area. Each to their own. They won’t be getting any nook miles that way though, better get on it or they’ll be slaves forever.
I come to realise that this is VERY similar to one of my favourite games, Stardew Valley. Plant your flowers, collect resources to craft more and more stuff, make friends with the villagers, collect things, upgrade your house, there’s even a museum where all your finds are going. Is there going to be a community center too? I’m not complaining, I love Stardew Valley, I’m glad it’s similar, I’ve played it to death though so it’s nice to have something to replace it.
I managed to upgrade my tent to a cute, little shed and was all pleased but then saw Pashmina and Goose’s, they have bigger houses. At least on the outside anyway. They aren’t even doing anything! Not fair.
My friend invited me to her island, she’s been playing since it came out so she has a lot going on. It was really fun, she gave me a tour while chatting to me on the phone, we went to the museum, and looked at all the buildings and little areas she’d made. It was like a proper day out! The only thing I was a little disappointed with was that you can’t actually go on any of the stuff like the spinning tea cups ride or even do things like have animations of you building sandcastles or playing a board game etc. I hope at least the other villagers can?
Overall, I am glad I bought the game, it is good fun. I am getting a little frustrated at the moment because I want more stuff to craft and I want to get my island going properly but I’ve only just managed to get the shop built so it’s coming along slowly. However, as frustrating as the slow pace is I appreciate it a lot. The game almost forces you to not spend hours at a time on there (unless you really like fishing), at least at first anyway, which is not something I’m used to games doing. It means it’s not dominating my time and I can switch over to what I was playing before to help tide me over until the next day if I want to keep playing games when I’m done foraging and crafting. Usually when I get a new game the ones I had on the go before it arrived will be instantly forgotten but not this time.
If you want a new island to visit hit me up! I’m happy to have visitors/be a visitor. I’m finding it really fascinating seeing what everyone has done differently with their islands. My friend had a very flowery, country village with some really random but cool bits here and there all intersecting and spread out, then I visited The Wandering Mage’s island and that’s like a little metropolis, there’s a lot of different sections (the orchard, the flower garden, the shopping centre…) all very organised and super pretty.