Hi there, old chum! Sorry I haven't written in
a while, but dang - I've been busy. For the last few weeks, I've been
living in the world of Animal Crossing. There's always something
to do, something to get done. Busy, busy, busy.
I remember first moving in just as September was
starting in the 'normal' world. And whaddaya know? It was September in
Animal Crossing. Same time, same date, thanks to the real-time,
real-world nature of the game. Well, that is if my mystical portal has
been properly calibrated. Most people call this portal a "Gamecube." Go
my train rolled into the station, a friendly cat named Rover asked me
about myself. I told him my name was LiU and that I was headed towards
a humble little burg named "Berkeley." Rover just so happened
to have a friend there who could give me the hookup on a job.
That "friend" of his is the megalomaniac, Tom
Nook. Ruling with an iron first, he forced me into a life of indentured
servitude while being cooped up in a ramshackle hovel. He made me do...
CHORES! Like running back and forth between villagers delivering their
I kid, I kid. Nook is a pretty decent guy, even
though the house he gave me was more like a shack and I had to work for
a short bit to pay off part of my debt. But after I was off Nook's leash,
I found a satisfying line of work in the goods industry. Foolish Nook
will buy nearly anything I throw at him! Bugs, fish, fruit, spare kidneys,
you name it!
and bug catching require some deft timing skills, but will net a higher
profit. There's also Turnip speculating. The price of turnips fluctuates,
so buying low and selling high can net a tidy profit. Still, after fishing
for hours on end, I find myself wishing for some real occupations.
Capitalism in Animal Crossing rocks! If
only it were that easy in real life. I take all the money I earn from
my "job" and use it to pay off my housing debts or buy junk with which
to furnish my home. Sometimes if I help a neighbor make a delivery or
a pickup, he'll be generous enough to give up a shirt or a piece of furniture.
coolest things to get here are NES games. They are few and far between,
but it's nifty using my Gamecube portal to emulate classics like Pinball,
Tennis, and possibly even Super Mario.
After I finally finished paying off my first housing
debt, Nook offered to upgrade my home. I don't know how he managed to
excavate an entire basement over a single night while I was sleeping,
but I think he has an ultra-secret army of ninja contractors to do his
dirty bidding. Why doesn't he use the ninjas to do his chores, too?
Sadly, my house can only be updated a maximum
of 5 times into a cozy two-story home. Yes, it does take a while, especially
with the debts that will surmount, but 5 updates feels a little slim.
Where's my mountain villa with a Jacuzzi and mile-long driveway? After
all, I deserve it. Stealing fruits from trees is hard work. Heh.
Once, late at night, I saw my neighbor Murphy wandering
through the forest, so I thought I'd surround and trap him with a few
holes. But after leaving him alone and coming back, I realized that the
holes magically fill themselves in. Lucky for Murphy Animal Crossing
isn't a violent place. I can't klonk Bob on the head with a shovel and
bury him away, or ensnare an unsuspecting Lulu with my hook of doom. There
are traps in which you can catch an unwary villager, but that's just simple
It's a breath of fresh air to have a nonviolent
place you can bring kids to without any misgivings. Maybe they'll learn
about the importance of debt reduction as well.
Someone here once told me that happiness comes
from having a room full of great stuff. I disagree. I've always found
happiness through my friends and family in the normal world. And with
that, my animal "friends" here in the city of Berkeley really can't compare.
They are, well, noticeably stupid.
wrote one neighbor a letter with only one word on it: "Friend!" They replied
that I wrote too many complicated words. I can think of other one-worded
letters to write them in the future. I think I'll attach some garbage
to it as well. Not that they can even tell the difference.
Each villager has his or her own personal speech
pattern; they append a catch phrase at the tail end of everything they
say. It helps to distinguish everyone and creates personality, but when
you really think about it, they're all just dipping from the same pool
of dialogue. One person might pull up the exact same dialogue bit as someone
I just talked to. It really kills the illusion that these guys are all
independent, thinking woodland creatures.
Perhaps these villagers are actually some Borg-like
entity just waiting to pull me into the Collective. Then again, with how
much time I've been spending here, I think it's too late.
So I decided to take a break for a week, inviting
some friends of mine to borrow my mystical portal and venture into Berkeley.
When I returned, the locals said they missed seeing me. And then they
returned to their stupidity. Bugs started to crawl around in my home.
Blech! How awful!
competition definitely makes Animal Crossing a much more interesting
place to visit. The first person to play each day will get the best chance
to find the daily hidden items. A certain neighbor of mine always manages
to wake up before me and dig up all the valuables and buy out all the
goods, cleaning out Nook's store. So I buried garbage in her front yard.
Sometimes I think about how much fun this world
would be if it were truly connected to other cities across some digital
highway. If only there was some way to break the limit of one human playing
at time. I could have a friend visit me from far away, and we could essentially
converse in real-time like instant messaging. And this diary would be
more like a log. And then true updates and special events could be loaded
in as well. [And then the game would be called The
Sims Online - Ed.]
Nonetheless, there are still ways I can visit
other cities. I'll need to have another city held within a memory card.
Even handier, I can trade items with anyone via passwords. Someone only
needs to know that my name is LiU and my city is Berkeley, and then they
can get a password to transport stuff to me. (Oh, how I do wish people
would send me nifty things. Hint, hint. )
interesting items can be unlocked using the Nintendo eReader. As far as
I know, Animal Crossing cards are not capable of generating new
items, only recalling items that are already existing within the annals
of the game. The eReader works with the Game Boy Advance, which can be
used for some cursory functions in Animal Crossing, including playing
NES games, but nothing pivotal.
While I can't describe this city as cutting edge
visually, it has its own charm in understated yet colorful and bright
graphics. There's always a catchy tune in the air, sometimes a touch jazzy,
other times something peppy. Totakeke the dog, known about these parts
as K.K., spends his Saturday nights lounging at the train steps, happy
to dispense his flavorful folk tunes.
Yes, diary of mine, this place can be addictive,
but eventually, I can see my interest begin to waver. My house will be
as big as it can possibly be. Sure, I might check in occasionally for
special holidays and events, but by then the materialism will have worn
away and I'll be stuck here with a bunch of stupid animals that I can't
kill. And instead of actually directly playing with other people, I'd
only be talking of my city and dispensing passwords here and there. But
a world without any specific goals or responsibilities that runs in tandem
with my 'normal' world has indeed been fun to visit, and I heartily recommend
that others see what lies in their own personal Animal Crossing.
So until next time,