Hokko Life was announced yesterday and it’s basically Animal Crossing. You catch a train to a new village, you buy a house you can put furniture in, and you befriend various animals who give you chores. Even its font looks the same as the one used in the Animal Crossing series. There’s taking inspiration from a popular series, then there’s reskinning someone else’s idea and slapping your own logo on it, which absolutely looks to be the case here. But with there being so few games that emulate Animal Crossing‘s peaceful life sim, is that really such a bad thing?
Nintendo is familiar with having its ideas snagged by other developers; Smash Bros. and Mario Kart both have long histories of games aping their core concepts. From Brawlout to PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, many have looked to emulate Smash‘s fast-paced, 4-player fighting, while many retro gaming mascots have had kart racers of their own. Yet the no-stakes, tranquil errand-running of Animal Crossing has never really been emulated elsewhere.
Hokko Life hasn’t exactly been well-received. Its announcement trailer has swiftly garnered more dislikes than likes, with viewers finding its concept far too derivative of Nintendo’s series. It’s not hard to see why it’s being criticized, but as a big Animal Crossing fan who feels like there are too few games like it on the market, I’m grateful that there’s going to be another chill game where I can carry out mundane tasks for anthropomorphic animals.
I just want an alternative!
In the time between New Leaf and the upcoming New Horizons, I’ve tried to find games like Animal Crossing but nothing really stacks up. Stardew Valley requires too much maintenance. The Sims isn’t as whimsical. My Time at Portia is too slow-paced. No game echoes the joy of waking up at 7 AM to do some light fishing and talk to a cat wearing a blouse.
On the other hand, Hokko Life follows the Animal Crossing formula to a tee while offering a few new features not found in Nintendo’s series. Players will have the ability to make and decorate homes for villagers, while its customization options for furniture also seems to be more expansive, allowing players to make a bunch of changes to the decorations they acquire. There is also crafting, something which will also make an appearance in New Horizons, but has been absent from previous AC games.
Now don’t get me wrong — it’s highly unlikely that Hokko Life is going to compete with Animal Crossing: New Horizons by any metric. Judging by its reveal trailer, there stands a good chance that it’s a bargain bin alternative for people who don’t own a Nintendo Switch. But I’m glad that there’s going to be a game out there that at least seeks to replicate what I love about Animal Crossing.
After getting my fill of New Leaf and parting ways with my 3DS, I’ve routinely wanted a game to tide me over until the release of New Horizons. Unfortunately, options are few and far between. I’m more than happy for other devs to come in with ideas similar to Animal Crossing, even if Hokko Life appears to be a little too derivative of it.
Was Temtem tootoo similar to Pokemon?
Hokko Life isn’t the only “Nintendo clone” released this year. We’ve also seen the release of Temtem, which liberally borrowed from Pokemon in order to deliver a monster-catching MMO. You start in a small town, you meet a professor who gives you the option of choosing one of three starter Poke—err, Temtem, and then you go around battling/catching other Temtem.
Like Hokko Life, Temtem isn’t subtle with its source of inspiration, but it also provides some new features that have thus far evaded Pokemon developer Game Freak. With it being an MMO, you can explore its world with a variety of other Temtem trainers, joining up with friends on your journey or just bumping into other players along the way.
In the same way that Hokko Life is aiming to be an Animal Crossing but with the customization features brought to the forefront, Temtem is a Pokemon game but with a greater wealth of multiplayer options. It offers something that’s only slightly different in concept and definitely lacks the charm of Nintendo’s series, but that does enough of its own thing that it doesn’t feel like bootleg Pokemon and has attracted a lot of fans as a result.
There’s no saying that Hokko Life will follow suit, but I’m at least pleased that someone is looking to offer a non-Switch alternative to these series. Sure, they could do with standing on their own two feet more rather than CTRL + Cing Nintendo’s ideas, but I for one welcome a few more games that offer reasonable alternatives to these games.