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(Feature) A Day Back With…..Animal Crossing: Population Growing

March 14, 2013

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It’s just under a decade to the day I first shut my GameCube and opened the door on the poorly named town ‘Mario’ for my character ‘Yoshi’. As an 11 year old child, I had all the time in the world to enjoy the beauty that Nintendo had created. From here, my love affair with Nintendo’s series began.

Animal_Crossing_CoverartEvery day for the next 3 years, I would rush home from school to pick up the remote and preform the same tasks every day. Open my mail. Go to Nooks. Talk to every villager. Dig up every fossil. Go to the beach. Fish. Save. Repeat the next day. It would change occasionally. Maybe once a fortnight there was an event, the villagers didn’t just drift around the town meaninglessly. Other then this, the game didn’t really change. Perhaps the fact that I never got tired of this basic formula is a testament to how precisely perfect Nintendo got this game.

I love every single piece of the game. To me, the music holds the same importance as the title music for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time does for others. Listen to it on this link, which will guide you to what is surely the greatest website in the history of the internet. It just constantly plays Animal Crossing music, from any game in the series, but changes on the hour as it would in the game. The person who made this deserves a knighthood. Anyway, I think of the music as a symbol of my childhood. When I put the game on earlier today for the first time in over 5 years, I felt a warm glow inside. I felt like I was that child who ran home to play the game all those years ago, yet playing the game felt like a sad reminder that I wasn’t.

Everyone who’s ever played an Animal Crossing game before knows all about what happens when you don’t play the game for a week or so. When I was that child, I’d go on holiday for a fortnight dreading having to come back to a town because a few dozen weeds had grown. Playing the game today, I felt like a gardener who hadn’t cut his lawn for 5 years. The whole town of ‘Mario’ just a sorry image of what it used to be. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t just the landscape that had changed, those who inhabited it had as well. My two favorite animals on the game, ‘Bob’ the cat and ‘Rodeo’ the cow had both sent me letters informing me that they had moved onto new pastures. Had I still been 11, I might have shed a tear over those letters.

As I continued to walk through ‘Mario’, tediously plucking weed to weed, I found a villager of the town ‘Mario’ to talk. His response was:

‘WOW. IS THAT YOU YOSHI? …… We haven’t seen you for like ….. 5 years.’

ps-vita-or-3ds_size_9igWhy I hadn’t played the game for so long I can only wonder. It’s sad to imagine that I haven’t. Since the original game, I’ve played Animal Crossing: Wild World and Animal Crossing: City Folk. I’ve even imported a Japanese 3DS so I play Animal Crossing: New Leaf before this June (Not that I understood a word of it. I’ve since sold the game as it was a painful experience!). Never has a town lasted more then a month since then. You might wonder why? For me, it’s never felt the same. While the other games play much more smoothly, you can’t deny there is something about Population Growing which makes it more fun.

In the GameCube version of Animal Crossing, there are many features which make it far more unique then other games in the series. For one, you can play £45 worth of NES games on this one disk alone. Balloon Fight, Donkey Kong, Excitebike, Tennis, Golf and Wario Woods. The list goes on. Once I was bored of fishing, I’d just play one of my games in what became a growing collection. I remember how proud I was when I finally got all 10 NES games. The sense of accomplishment you got from playing this game was the greatest I’ve ever had while playing a Video Game.

It’s that exact sense of accomplishment which makes Animal Crossing so fun. While Animal Crossing doesn’t have a story of plot, you could create your own way of feeling like you had finished the game. In my town, I’d payed off all 2 Million Bells of my mortgage, caught ever fish, found every bug, collected every fossil and painting. I still hadn’t done everything. I could play the game for another decade and I still might not have collected every piece of furniture. Every time you finished the goal you set yourself, it was more exciting then when I’d complete every level in a Mario game, or see the credits role across the screen on a Zelda game. Nothing can explain it.

Playing Animal Crossing: Population Growing today taught me two things. Firstly, I had a very sad childhood. Secondly, I can’t wait to start all over again this June (in English…) when Animal Crossing: New Leaf comes to Europe. However, I’m certain that I’ll never enjoy the game as much as I did with Animal Crossing: Population Growing. For me, there will never be any feeling like picking up the GameCube remote and walking through ‘Mario’ for hours on end. One of Nintendo’s finest creations.

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From → Retro

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