Maybe I’m the only one here who feels this way. Maybe what I’m about to say is completely out there, and my sanity should be seriously questioned. But I’ve been thinking long and hard about something lately, and I have come to the conclusion that Animal Crossing might just possibly be one of the cruelest series ever made.
Okay, I hear you all out there, looking at each other in confusion. Yes, I can hear the noise made by mere glances. Ducks have good hearing, doncha know. And I also hear you saying, but Duck, Animal Crossing is the nicest game known to mankind. All you do is relax and have fun. And befriend cute animals. And decorate your house with all manner of wonderful things. And I agree, on the surface, Animal Crossing looks nice. There are no battles to be fought. No violence. Nothing objectionable of any kind.
And yet, I still must insist, no other series of games feels as harsh as the deceptively sweet Animal Crossing. Before you cautiously back away from me, hear me out. To start off, rarely have I found a game so reluctant to give the player any sort of reward. Fossils and gyroids, for example, appear extremely infrequently, and after years of playing the occasional bouts of City Folk, I have yet to get every gyroid. On the rare occasion I do find one, it’s a repeat. Oh, another mega howloid. What fun. And then, whenever I get paintings, almost every single one is a forgery. I mean, seriously, cut me some slack, Blathers. The last ten paintings I’ve given you have been fakes, I know, but isn’t a fake painting better than no painting at all? Right? …No? I see. Considering I have, for some reason, been given the burden of providing every single exhibit in this museum, perhaps you’d like to rethink your analysis of my painting. Hmm?
Okay, not convinced yet? Well, what about this? The grass. Yes, the grass. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Forever. In nature, grass grows back. That’s kind of how plants work. But not in Animal Crossing. A large section of my town is now a nice shade of lovely brown, and no amount of repentance can help me now. At this point in time, I’m not allowed to run anywhere for fear of losing what little greenery I have left. And speaking of greenery, my town had a D ranking in terms of the number of trees. So I planted a few, checking in with the Town Hall from time to time. No change. Until one day, oh by the way, you now have a D because your town has too many trees. Well, thank you, it’s good to know I can do no right. Forget it, why don’t I just reduce the town to a barren wasteland, hmm? All my grass is gone anyway. Nook, sell me an axe, I’ve got work to do!
Okay, I didn’t actually do that because trees are the future and stuff. Wait a minute…
Need I go on? Yes? I’d love to. As if that wasn’t enough, isn’t it fun taking a walk at night, just relaxing, enjoying the stars overhead. And then, you spot something large and dark. What, you don’t see it? Just over there, beside that tree. Maybe we should…oh, crap, it’s spotted me! Run for your life! Maybe this series has no battles, but boy is it a terrifying experience when you get chased down by a scorpion or tarantula. And these things are unnaturally fast. I was once chased for literally several minutes straight around town. I finally got caught when I accidentally bumped into a tree. Blasted trees, I show you mercy, and this is how you repay me! You know what, Nook, you still have that axe in stock?
And speaking of trees, if you shake them, a decent percentage of the time, bees come out. If you’ve ever thought your town in Animal Crossing was a nice, safe place to live, think again.
And do you know what’s the worst thing of all? Fishing. That’s right, fishing in Animal Crossing sucks if you, I don’t know, actually want to get the good, valuable fish and don’t want to keep catching yet another sea bass. I mean, in City Folk, the game even acknowledges that this fish is caught far too often. They know what they’re doing. Nintendo can claim no ignorance for their actions. “Not you again”. The confession is right there in plain ink. Err, sans-serif. I rest my case.
Again, like the fossils, rare fish are few and far between. I can literally play every day for weeks on end and not spot a large fish even once. And then, when I do, trying to catch it is a stressful affair because, you know, you’re sitting there, watching it nibble at your line. Your heart is pounding at the first rare fish sighting in a month. And then, the awaited moment arrives. It bites. You press the button, your reflexes honed to that of a ninja cyborg after months of attempting to catch this very same specimen. You swore you did it as quickly as is possible for mere humanity. And the fish gets away.
There’s nothing like losing the one rare fish in a thousand to reduce one to an animalistic rage. You tell me, is there any other game in existence that is as utterly unfair and obscenely unforgiving as Animal Crossing? If you have any games that send you into a fury, and I’m sure we all do, please let me know in the comments. I’m going to go count to ten now.
Furthermore, Why Aren’t the Ducks in This Game Very Cute?
This post was originally published on United We Game on August 16, 2016.