In this Soapbox, Gavin discusses the fine line between enjoying his Animal Crossing journals and doing homework.
For anyone prone to compulsive behavior, video games can be a dangerous hobby. Whether you’re fighting just to get a platinum trophy, completing a collection of digital doohickeys, or not feeling like you’ve really won a game until you’ve unlocked every last detail, there are countless ways to get carried away to the point where the fun skip town and you’re left with a to-do list.
Of many ways, Animal crossing is a housework based game. There’s something lovely about marking your daily chores, whether it’s watering plants or roaming the beach for today’s message in a bottle or whatever else you’ve set up on your desert island.
Is a Get away However, and perhaps more than any previous game in the series, New Horizons does its best to highlight that you are supposed to relax. There is more to do than ever, a buffet of possibilities, and the point is to do what you want. However, Wedding Season, the latest seasonal event seeing the return of alpaca couple Reese and Cyrus, revealed my worst compulsive gambling trends.
To be fair, the Stamp Rally event in May had a similar effect. The wall of my bathroom (I say ‘bathroom’, there is a TV, a washing machine and a fireplace) is full of duplicate plates of fish, insects and fossils that I collected every day from May 1 to 18. I didn’t need to pick them up repeatedly, but I could… so I did it.
However, touring the museum to find the stamp stations was a breeze, compared to flying to Harv Island, filling your wedding studio with furniture as quickly as possible, and taking an anniversary photo of the happy couple. every day throughout the month of June. The aesthetic quality of this treasured anniversary photo is not measured by space or decorative intent, but rather by how many appropriate items are placed in the room. After taking this wedding photo, Reese gives him heart crystals, a new coin designed (feel) to add one more step to the daily routine.
You trade these mindless gems, which occupy inventory slots, for wedding-themed furniture from Cyrus, who dutifully returns the Heart Crystals to Reese. Apparently she has some kind of fetish for nonsensical items, but I really can’t blame her. I am suffering from a similar ailment.
It is the mindset of the old hoarder. You see, wedding furniture is only available at Cyrus, and only for the month of June. If I do not do it Visit the couple, I will miss the exclusive items! Items in which I have zero interest.
After walking to the airport and going through the routine of reaching Harv Island, then talking to Harv, then talking to Reese, then laboriously customizing the furniture to the theme you want, and placing one of the items in the room, then take the photo, then talking to Reese again and getting the damn Heart Crystals, then looking at the selection of items I can get … self-hatred for doing all of this explodes. Why the hell am I doing this?
After letting go of the pad and pausing for a moment of self-reflection, I realize that I am treating the catalog in the same way as my Critterpedia or Museum exhibition spaces. I visit the Nook’s Cranny and the Able Sisters store every day and buy anything and everything I haven’t seen before simply to fill that catalog space and have the option to buy it again in the future. After all, who can say when I will desperately need an ancient belted tunic, a pair of Argyle crew stockings, or muay thai shorts? You know, for all the Animal Crossing parties and events I attend.
On later reflection, this hoarding mindset is the root of other little friction points between me, the game, and a good time. Interior design is not my forte, mainly because I rarely get rid of something ‘cool’. Consequently, showers are dumped in kitchen corners and my rooms become simple storage spaces that house train sets, guitars, grandfather clocks, and neon signs.
My island is a mess, with random pagodas, basketball nets, and disappointingly small Oarfish models strewn about, waiting for a suitable environment that I’ll never build. There are some amazing and inspiring islands out there, but I don’t have time for that; I’m too busy piling up more trash with the vague idea of completing the catalog one day. Where’s Marie Kondo when you need her?
I already have all the fossils, I will get all the KK songs, and I am making good progress with the fish and insects. It is a pleasure to find those things. I’d be totally idle for a Critter update or a DLC package that added another bug page and fish to catch. Perhaps new fruit trees or plants could attract them, or a special character who has been researching wildlife could activate a lure machine on my island! Add another extension to the museum and I would be more than happy to continue fishing for another year.
However, the wedding season, by default, my brain played in lizard mode. Rationally, I can’t bother collecting for good, but there is a deep part of my brain addicted to boxes. I blame all those collectible platform games from the 90s; I have been programmed to vacuum every insignificant item no matter what. Banjo-Kazooie has a lot to answer for.
The difference with Banjo is that I can 100% that memory game in a few hours; Animal Crossing is a different beast. It is absolutely better when you play it as you like, without obligation. I can honestly say that saying anything about how to make Star Trek uniforms in the custom design editor has been one of the most rewarding and relaxing times I’ve had with a controller in my hands all year. Okay, it’s been a very strange year, but I’ve already won the game money multiple times.
However, it is a constant battle to remind me how personally should Play to get the most out of New Horizons. Some people will love the challenge and routine of getting every little thing; For me, it feels too much like a second job. The bunny day event might have annoyed people the wrong way, but for me the wedding season has dragged on and sparked some bad habits.
It is already done, I have everything. Sorry, Reese: Next year you will have to find another fool to set up your chairs and customize your cakes every day for a month!
That’s unless there is a new set of items to collect, of course.