Despite having played many video games, I've always hesitated at calling myself a "gamer." Mostly because I don't really want that association, but also because my "love" for video games has already peaked with Animal Crossing. It's almost like it was made specifically for me, so I don't look for anything else. There's just no point.
I'm not quite old enough to have played GameCube, myself (though I have fond memories of watching older relatives play the original Animal Crossing), so my first game was Wild World. I fell into obsession right away. I was delighted by the weird little characters, being employed (even if only briefly), and catching fish and bugs. I thought I was so clever for figuring out I could make money quickly by selling all of my town's oranges. Though when they didn't grow back the next day, I was mildly distressed. I think seeing K.K. slider's live performance for the first time, though, was when I really fell in love with Animal Crossing. Since I'm pretty sure my first day playing was a Saturday, getting to see K.K. Slider do his thing just wrapped up the day perfectly.
I played just about every day for almost a year, maybe a little longer, even if it was only for 5 or 10 minutes. I only stopped when borrowing a friend's Action Replay kind of ruined it for me. I still sometimes wish I could revive my original town, but the memories are the important thing, and I still have lots of them.
Animal Crossing is probably the only franchise that I actually buy merch of because I'm pretty picky and don't like graphic tees or half-assed collabs that's just X-company logo-or-character on Y-company product. But I find the Animal Crossing leaf very endearing, and that tends to be enough to open my wallet. I also can't even be mad at Amiibo Festival, because the ends justified the means. Still, despite the success of New Horizons, there's still relatively little Animal Crossing merchandise (aside from Amiibo) compared to Nintendo's other top franchises. So I'm very attached to my humble hoard!
Interestingly, years after the release of New Leaf and well before New Horizons was announced, there were suddenly a lot of licensed character goods and trinkets. Though I still think the timing was odd, this is time period is where a lot of my collection started and ended. One thing I just can't wrap my head around is that Ichiban Kuji (一番くじ) items use the English-language branding despite only being available in Japan. I can only assume that this is an acknowledgement that the signboard logo is objectively better.
Nendoroid 2016 (2nd release)
Club Nintendo 2015
Sanrio collaboration 2017? (1st release)
Gekijōban Doubutsu no Mori Original Sountrack, 2020 (released 2006)
Very Cool Ideas
I've mostly gotten over myself and my grievences with New Horizons but I still think it is the least-good Animal Crossing. I would like to see the next installment make a few improvements.
Since New Leaf you've been able to pick your town map. New Horizons lets you pick a hemisphere. Both Happy Home Designer and Happy Home Paradise have home locations that are clearly supposed to be a specific habitat. I would like to see this expanded on. It would be very cool if you could move to a town that is snowy all year, or a desert with cacti, or on an island, or one that has a lot of bamboo, etc. I don't think these need to be realistic biomes or anything, so the same types of bugs and fish are found following the usual seasons. But maybe certain types are more common. Maybe for snowy towns, penguin villagers are more likely to move in randomly, but kangaroo villagers can only be invited via campsite or Amiibo card. Time travel would no longer be necessary for people who prefer a specific season, and it might be a lot of fun if you have friends that all live in a different type of town!
I'm sure crafting was added to bring in Pocket Camp players (but they really don't deserve to be acknowledged), but it's really not fun at all. Why do I need 5 books to craft the only proper bookshelf in the game. But planting crops? Making pies? Very cute and doesn't require grinding.
I'd really like to see the personality types improved or expanded on. Since everyone is a sensitive crybaby (including the literal children this game is made for), I don't expect villagers to be mean again, but they don't need to be so watered down. I can barely tell the difference between uchi, normal, and snooty villagers specifically anymore, so I would like these to at least be more distinct. There could also be more personality types.
There are a lot of dorky looking villagers, but not a proper 'nerd' personality. I feel like smug tries to do this, but they end up not feeling very...smug, and it's weird. Something like a Blathers-lite that cares more about tech than mesuem stuff would be appropriate. Or perhaps an occult-obsessed personality. Katrina and Wisp are NPCs that villagers don't really seem to acknowledge, so I think this would help that. And it would be fun to see them interact with peppy villagers about horoscope stuff.
For girl villagers, I would like to see a rougher personality, something similar to grumpy. A loner type. I think this would benefit villagers that are currently snooty, like Tiffany, or better suit villagers that are currently uchi, like Cherry and Quin and Renee. Also, I think it might be good make 'normal' an actual neutral personality that both boy and girl villagers can have, and make them talk more about the weather or other boring stuff.
I'm not really into New Horizon's beach resort aesthetic, because you get thrown on to a deserted island, and since there are no shop upgrades...it just always kind of feels like a deserted island with a really well-funded museum. 'Rural village' works for Animal Crossing and you can't really escape that. Instead, I would have liked to have seen Tortimer Island and the tours return, it would have fit in fine with the Happy Home Paradise island. Or even Harv's island. I think that could all be combined in some way. Kapp'n deserves better.
I also liked Main Street. The bus ride to the city in City Folk made it seem like you were actually going someplace far away, but Dodo Airlines just has too many menus and waiting around. Main Street felt like the most logical solution. And, the train is cool. The world felt a little bigger and more alive with a train periodically passing through.
Anyway, NPCs that can go are Flick and Gulliver. Well, really just Flick. Stupid design. Annoying. Contributes nothing of value. Doesn't even eat the bugs. Hate him. Gulliver was funny once or twice, but either put him in a UFO again or don't put him at all.
Anyway, Nintendo, you can find my contact on my About. Please reach out as soon as possible that we can negotiate payment for my really cool super awesome ideas. And yes, I am available to hire as a full-time Ideas Guy.