KYOTO — Imagine a world with no work, monotony, mundane assignments or water cooler talk. Instead of commuting to work, you simply run around your local area lending a hand to your neighbors and working together to clean and build up your newly developing community. Instead of a paycheck hitting on the first and fifteenth of every month, you receive payment and credit card points for fishing, cutting down trees, pulling weeds, or catching bugs. You constantly have debt, and you’re motivated by financial gain, but that debt can be paid back whenever you like with zero interest to the being who is in charge of overseeing the growth and development of your new home.
No, this isn’t a hypothetical democratic socialist utopia that could exist if everyone would just vote for Bernie Sanders already. This is the virtual infrastructure and plot of Nintendo’s most recent iteration of the Animal Crossing franchise, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.”
Animal Crossing is a polarizing series among people in the gaming community, eliciting strong feelings from both sides. The most devoted players cite the game’s ability to create and foster community building in a positive and relaxing way that’s fun for players of all ages. The detractors, on the other hand, argue the games are basically dollhouses for nerds.
“I just don’t really get it?” said PS4 loyalist Clara Burton, while streaming God of War on Twitch. “My parents tried to force dolls on me as a kid, and even then I thought they were stupid. So why would I play a game where the entire premise is run around trying to find shit to decorate my house with while paying off said house to a raccoon who is constantly up-selling me? I already have that relationship with Fannie Mae. I’m not poly with my banks.”
Nevertheless, it would appear that Animal Crossing loyalists far outweigh their opposition. Sales for the game have been record shattering for the Kyoto-based video game developer, and have already outsold the Switch’s Super Smash Bros. and Pokemon installments. The timing of the launch has certainly helped as well. A game that offers all of the fun of being outside while the world is stuck inside thanks to government-mandated quarantines is a perfect storm in a depressing way.
But regardless of which end of the Animal Crossing appreciation spectrum you fall on, everyone can agree that game’s first soiree into holiday specials was as “egg-trociuos” as that pun I just made. This past week, players were confused and terrified by the reappearance of Zipper T. Bunny, a mischievous rabbit who hides eggs around the island that have no purpose except for furniture crafting and trading. The worst part? These eggs are acquired by performing tasks that typically yield actual crafting materials that serve a greater purpose to the community, like renovating the town store or crafting tools.
Following the backlash, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa announced in a press conference today that the game would be reeling in the wacky, holiday-themed characters and promotions for more realistic ones that provide fans and players a more authentic gaming experience.
“We understand that our most loyal customers and users were frustrated by the game-play experience from the ‘Bunny Day’ patch we built into Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” said Furukawa according to Google Translate, because we can’t afford an interpreter. “We apologize deeply to all of you, but believe we have come up with some new holiday-centric promotions that will make you all very, very horny,” (again, we acknowledge that that’s probably wrong).
“We know this is a few months out, but we want to take this opportunity to introduce to you all our special Veteran’s Day Character, Vinny from Vietnam!” he cheered to a room of appalled gasps. “On the surface, Vinny is just another homeless amputee veteran down on his luck, but you’ll find there’s so much more to this plucky, fun-loving character.”
“You’ll be able to help Vinny by constructing a brand-new VFW for your island, that will only require 300 pieces of each wood, 4,000 iron nuggets, and 18,000 Nook Miles. Vinny will also shout fun obscenities at you while experiencing hysterical fits of PTSD, and there won’t be anything you can do to stop them! And don’t worry, if you get tired of Vinny’s antics, you can always actively ignore him, wait for him to die from starvation, and then gently push him into the ocean where his corpse will float to a nearby island to be reeled in by an unsuspecting and unlucky friend of yours. The fun keeps on going with Vinny!”
Shocked and unsure how to respond, the crowd of reporters stared at President Furukawa with mouths agape for a few moments before he also teased the company’s plans to develop a demon filled Halloween special and next year’s Easter special where you’re forced to watch an amiibo representation of Jesus Christ relive the events leading up to his crucifixion. Talk about Animal CROSS-ing right…right?