A Love Letter to Animal Crossing
Updated: Apr 11
As many of you probably know by now, one of the most anticipated games of 2020; Animal Crossing New Horizons is about to be released in about a months time. To celebrate, I thought I would collate all of my memories with the franchise from the past (almost) 15 years, just to reminisce and remind us all how far the series has come.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane!
The Beginning: Animal Crossing Wild World
I first heard about Animal Crossing at around 9-10 years old, so around 2005/2006. A friend of mine had been introduced to it by another friend so she instinctively introduced it to me too. (Disclaimer: Sorry Rachel, you will be featured in this post a lot due to our almost 20 year friendship and continued love of Animal Crossing!). The game I’m talking about here is Animal Crossing Wild World on the Nintendo DS. I didn’t have a GameCube as a kid and although I have since played Animal Crossing (GC), I class Wild World as like ‘the beginning’ for me.
I remember not quite understanding the concept of being able to connect DS’ when in person. After spending the afternoon at said friend’s house, I remember being picked up and sitting in the back of the car with my DS still connected to my friend’s DS as I was pulling away in the car – whilst visiting her town – I was convinced that since I lived literally down the road that our DS would stay connected and that I would be able to stay in her town… they disconnected when we got not even out of her road.
We also had a few sleep overs together that literally consisted only of animal crossing. She would stay over on a Saturday night sometimes just so we could go and see K.K Slider perform at the Roost at 8pm. Both sitting together to watch credits roll sounds pretty boring but we had a little ritual that we did every time. What we started doing is requesting songs that didn’t even exist. So we would type anything in to make each other laugh. That meant at the end of each song K.K Slider would say something along the lines of “sorry I don’t know a song called K.K. Slider Sniffs Butts so I just free styled” the anticipation of having to wait a whole song to see what funny thing each of us requested was literally the funniest thing to us from the ages of 10-20, we did it in literally every game.
During peak Wild World, I literally remember checking the game every single day just in case anything had changed. Even if I was about to be sent to bed, I would “go to bed” as far as my parents were concerned, just to quickly grab my DS – hide under the covers and do the needed checks: check post, check villagers, make sure no one has moved out or was planning on moving out, check Nook’s – there may be an item I desperately needed, check the beach – in case anything happened to wash up and then save and go to bed. I was usually on time for these things so I only did the late night checks on a few occasions (sorry mum, if you’re reading this!)
I also remember in my final year of primary school not really wanting to go to school everyday, my way around that? Play my Wild World on the drive into school. The only issue is that drive only took about 5 minutes so I really didn’t get much done at all.
A slightly strange memory that literally has not changed since I was 10 years old comes from 1 villager in particular. You may be familiar with Tipper, a cow villager who I absolutely despise. How? How could I hate a cartoon animal from a video game you ask? It’s simple: she has the same birthday as me. This again started out as a dumb 10 year old pet-peeve that has continued to follow me into adulthood as I just can’t shake my hatred for this poor cow, for a petty reason! It still regularly comes up in conversation when talking about this game. I used to send her rude letters, try and get her to leave my town and everything, I’ve never been so cruel!
This may have been Wild World, may have been New Leaf – I genuinely can’t remember but I remember on a few occasions, playing on my DS in my bedroom once everyone had settled down for the night connecting with my sisters in their room across from mine, only talking in game. it’s the little things that mean the most.
The Sequel: Animal Crossing Let’s Go To The City
The follow up to Wild World was Let’s Go To The City (or City Folk, in other regions) which was released in 2008 for the Nintendo Wii . I have A LOT of memories from this game as I was literally counting down the days until it’s release and was able to play it as soon as it was released. It was also when I started meeting more people who had the game rather than just me and my best friend. Which meant more interactions, discussions and exchanging of friend codes. Nintendo also introduced more features and events for fans to sink their teeth into in this instalment, which meant for longer play times, if that’s even possible.
Again, connecting (this time via Wi-Fi) with my best friend to play online together. Especially during events like Festivale, Bunny Day, New Years Eve, etc. Where we would connect for hours, completing the tasks set for the day.
I remember receiving the game for Christmas 2008 and being allowed special permission to take the Wii up into my bedroom to play the game as soon as I woke up Christmas morning. Even now hearing the City theme, reminds me of Christmas.
I also remember collecting any issue of Nintendo Magazine back in the day that had City Folk on the cover. I believe I still have these old editions stored away safely somewhere!
One time at school, I found out that a couple of girls in my class also played Let’s Go To The City – I literally couldn’t believe that they knew about AC (this was before I was actively on the internet so I thought AC was some secret gem that barely anyone knew about). I remember during one class getting them to draw what their character looked like with their name, name of their town and their friend code written on it and made a pact with them to all meet in my town at 8pm on a certain day. Since I wasn’t on social media and didn’t have their numbers I just waited in my town and hoped that they would turn up when they said they would. I don’t remember if they ever did but this memory reminds me how innocent life was back then.
A memory that I only just unearthed upon writing this post is either an anomaly or just something we had never come across before. So the story goes like this, my friend had PeeWee the Gorilla in her town. This friend’s younger brother also shared her town and so would often design shirts for the Able Sisters. We wouldn’t notice the new editions to the shop until the villagers started wearing them. One example of this was when we saw PeeWee walking around town with a basic shirt that literally just said “dog poo” on it. Childish but hilarious none the less. Time went by and PeeWee always wore this shirt. It must have been months later that PeeWee had left my friend’s town and I was in my own town, visiting the city. Who do I see walking around by GracieGrace? PeeWee. Not too strange considering random villagers showed up all the time – except he was still wearing the Dog Poo shirt. I genuinely to this day don’t know how this happened as I was under the impression that villagers just wore their default clothes when visiting the city. I immediately sent my friend a photo and we still laugh about it to this day.
Sorry, this is another memory that includes Rachel. Do you remember Katie and Kaitlin? The mother and daughter cat duo who – in city folk – would turn up in your town saying they had lost each other (in one of your friends towns) and that they needed you to reunite them. This is a sweet idea until I tell you this next part. So one time, Katie is in my town and the thing about Katie is she is a young kitten so is quite upset that she has lost her mum so she cries and follows you around, tripping over if you walk too fast. It can be quite the ordeal. So anyway, I find Katie and she wants to go to Rachel’s town. It’s probably a Sunday or something so we are both at home with our families. I give her a call and the phone is engaged, which is annoying enough but I thought I’ll try again in 10 minutes. 10 minutes go by and it is still engaged. I tried over and over and over again throughout the whole day and the phone was permanently engaged. After hours of this I begin to get stressed out because I have this crying cat begging me for help and no way to help her. I eventually gave up and when I confronted Rachel the next day, she said something along the lines of never getting any call and her phone must have been broken this whole time. Katie never got home… just left my town on her own I guess.
I seem to accidentally have a relation to Resetti – the angry saving mole – this started out ironically and I have only just remembered it. Back in the day, I remember hearing about Resetti having a relative Don Resetti; who would show up randomly if you didn’t save in place of Resetti. I was so fascinated by this seemingly urban legend that I used to try constantly to get into the Reset Centre (again, a random occurrence that only happened sometimes under certain circumstances) and to reset enough times for the slim chance that I’d randomly get Don Resetti. It became such a joke between me and my friend that we staged a wedding for me and Don Resetti in game. Stay with me here. We reorganised my in game home to look like a chapel, drew a terrible picture of Don Resetti on an easel and filled my home with flowers. Rachel even ordained the marriage. This was so funny at the time and a little embarrassing now to revisit.
The New One: New Leaf
The last main series game to be released – that is until March 20th 2020! – was Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the 3DS in 2013. A new Animal Crossing game is always exciting as they always wait a while in between releasing a new one. So the wait between City Folk and New Leaf was 5 years. Which definitely seemed longer at the time. With New Leaf being released when I was 15, I had grown up a bit from City Folk and was actually on social media at this point, so it was easier to find out new information and generally get more out of the game.
I couldn’t tell you the date this was but it must have been a year or two before release. I remember being over a relatives house and getting a message from Rachel saying that there was a new trailer for a new Animal Crossing game. I vaguely remember watching this trailer and seeing things like the diving/swimming mechanics and the island and being horrified that they had changed so much about the game I loved so much. I basically dismissed the game from then on until closer to the release date when I obviously got more excited.
As the game came out in 2013, I was still living at home and I remember going to my local game shop to pre-order New Leaf as there was a promise of a model of the town hall guaranteed if you pre-ordered with that particular store. It came to release day and I remember queuing up with a few other friends, two of which had also pre-ordered the game. We were then disappointed to find that the town hall model was literally a few centimetres high, I’m not sure what we were expecting but apparently something more doll housed size! We then went down to the beach, new game in hand to enjoy the rest of our day. Little did my friends know that I had bought my 3DS along and had begun playing. A fact they weren’t too happy about at the time. I still have the very same save data/town to this day.
The Animal Crossing games have always been a way for me to make friends and this was true again for New Leaf, I remember playing with people I wasn’t too close with at the time who are now some of my closest friends thanks to the connectivity side of the games.
When New Leaf came out, I didn’t actually own my own 3DS. I was using my sister’s who had one of the original models. She didn’t play it very much so let me use it whenever I wanted. This was until I began to prepare to move out of home, an hour or more away. I then decided to get my own 3DS, this time an XL. But not just any 3DS, the Animal Crossing special edition 3DS XL. I managed to find and win one on eBay for a modest £150. I still own and use this console regularly.
After a year of living out of home and in a shared house for University, I had a sentimental goodbye on my last day in said house. So my favourite villager in Animal Crossing is Marina, the pink octopus. I’m now talking about a time in Animal Crossing history when Amiibo cards were introduced (around the time of Happy Home Designer). Anyway, one of my housemates at the time had managed to get hold of a Marina Amiibo card and had promised to let me use it to scan her into my village. I kept forgetting and putting it off until my final day in that house. I was mere hours away from moving out for good, unsure if I would ever see this friend again let alone have the opportunity to use her Amiibo cards. When I finally did it, I scanned Marina in and she is still in my town to this day. It’s not a particularly momentous moment but the timing felt like a special send off. Especially because I didn’t know at the time that I would still regularly see this housemate and have many opportunities to do this again.
I have a New Years tradition that I have been doing for as long as I can remember. Not the past 2 years sadly but before this I have always made the effort to boot up Animal Crossing (including New Leaf) just before midnight to quietly celebrate the new year AC style, whether I was at a party, with family or just in bed.
I really have only scratched the surface of this topic, I didn’t even have time to dive into the Doubutsu No Mori, Happy Home Designer or Pocket Camp! There are probably so many more memories that I am forgetting right now that will come back to me once I have published this post. But essentially, what this post is trying to say is that I have had a very long and fulfilling relationship with the Animal Crossing series. Some of my favourite childhood memories revolve around this game and I am so excited to make even more memories with New Horizons when it is released in 34 days!
Perhaps I will do more Animal Crossing related content in the future. For more from me find more of my work right here as well as nerdoutwordout.com.