We are fast approaching the end of January 2019, and we’re still severely lacking in a Nintendo Direct, one which will, presumably, come with more information about the Animal Crossing Switch game which was announced back in September. Meanwhile, we have nothing to do but wait, hope, and speculate. It’s been five long years since New Leaf released, bringing with it a whole host of new features: an island full of mini games, public works projects, new NPCs, and the ability to swim, just to name a few. What new features and quality of life improvements will we get to experience when Animal Crossing makes the jump to the Switch? Nintendo may not be dishing out new information just yet, so why not check out the list of features we’d like to see?
Quality of Life Improvements
Animal Crossing is easy to pick up and play, which is no small part of its charm! That said, there are a few small tweaks that could make the experience even better.
A Toolbox. Inventory space is at a premium in Animal Crossing, and your pockets fill up pretty fast. No one wants to run around their town without the tools that help make your time in town worthwhile: an axe, shovel, bug net, and fishing rod. Heck, I even make room for my watering can half the time. We’d love to have a special row dedicated to tools, tied into the D-pad quick-switching feature… and if it has the added benefit of being able to keep a slingshot, megaphone, or a to-go cup of one of Brewster’s delicious coffee concoctions on hand without eating up fruit harvesting space, even better!
Grass Fertilizer. There’s nothing worse than opening your game to find that most of your town has become a mudpit; endless fields of sloppy brown muck, lacking in grass or snow. Trying to nag guest players to not run and stay on the paths is tedious, and grass takes forever to regrow. Escaping into the aesthetic of your town is one of the biggest draws of Animal Crossing, and in the event that our lawn does end up trampled, we’d be more than happy to throw a couple thousand Bells for a grass fertilizer, or hire Leif to patch up those bare spots. Please, give us this option so we don’t have to live in a muddy swamp. Please?
New Leaf brought with it a new role for your character, that of town mayor. Tortimer has retired to the island, and it’s now up to you to run your little town. It only makes sense that this role would come with much more control over your town, and some new features, such as Town Ordinances and the ability to commission, build, and place Public Works Projects, lived up to this promise. That said, there’s still a few more things we’d like to have just a bit more control over.
Zoning. There’s nothing more annoying than having a new villager’s house appear right on top of your black and gold rose garden, or that spot you planned for your next Public Works Project. Give us a map of the town and allow us to draw in areas where houses should go–and where they most definitely should not.
Paths as Public Works Projects. Have we mentioned that houses popping up where we don’t want them is, collectively, our biggest Animal Crossing pet peeve? Like many other Animal Crossing players, we’ve been using QR codes to lay down paths, but now that we’re mayor, why can’t we plan and build actual paths which our villagers will recognize, follow, and wander away from when they’re yearning for a bit of nature? Combine this feature with the ability to customize paths with QR codes and we’d be very happy campers. Or mayors. Whatever.
Species and personality preferences. I’m going to be brutally honest here: I would very happily go the rest of my life without ever having another jock or a dog villager in my town, and I know that others feel the same about different personalities or animal species. Why not allow us to set town preferences to help us encourage our favorites while avoiding our least favorite characters? Isabelle could market the town as being ideal for grumpy characters, or the perfect home for hamsters, encouraging or discouraging certain characters from moving in. We’re not suggesting these rules guarantee only one kind of villager, or completely lock others out, but giving even a little bit of control over which kinds of villagers will move in based upon your preferences can’t do anything but improve the overall experience.
Custom Furniture. New Leaf came with a whole host of ways to customize your clothing, furniture, wallpaper, etc, but after so many installments, some of the furniture sets in the game are getting a little… tired. What if you could team up with an NPC–a beaver, maybe?– and design your own furniture out of generic shapes? Paint and re-upholster your custom creation at Re-Tail, spit out a QR code, and you could very well be the creator of the next must-have AC furniture line!
Patterns and QR Codes for Pants. You can make a shirt, you can make a dress, but try as you like, you just can’t create a custom pants outfit in New Leaf. I’ve spent way more time than I want to think about designing custom clothing, but I can’t replicate my favorite jeans, t-shirt, and leather jacket look, simply because my pants always turn into a dress. Isn’t it about time we change that?
Custom Shoes. Along the same line, Kicks provides a wide variety of shoes, but being able to change the shape, color, or pattern of the shoes–or even customize your own socks–could vastly expand your wardrobe.
There’s already a lot to do in Animal Crossing, but there’s so much more that you could do. We wanted to take a look at some of our favorite features and imagine how to make them even better.
Villager Friendships. I remember the first time I walked into a villager’s house and found that they had another villager over for a visit; at one point I found two different villagers sitting together on a bench chatting. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and we’d love to see these little moments expanding! Adding a splash of autonomy to Animal Crossing could make our little towns feel even more alive. We’d even like to see one villager becoming sad and needing a little cheering up, or deciding to move away from our towns because their best friend decided to move out. It would all be worth it if we got to see two besties shopping together, planning trips to the Island together, or even deciding to move in together and become roommates.
Best Villager Friend. We all have that favorite villager, the one that makes us smile just by being in out town. There’s nothing worse than the sad lump in your stomach when that villager announces they want to move away; as a matter of fact, Julian deciding it was time to pack up and prance was the main reason I stopped playing New Leaf. Creating a feature which allows you to select one villager as a best friend, after building up a substantial relationship with them, which assures they won’t randomly move away from your town could save many a mayor that heartbreak. We’re not saying achieving this status should be immediate or even easy, but if you’re playing every day, you should be able to chat up your bestie, safe in the knowledge that they’ll still want to be there for you tomorrow.
Long Distance Friendships. As mentioned above, we all have favorite villagers, but what’s the point of encountering a favorite character in a friend’s town unless they’re already planning on moving away? What is the point of the Dream Suit, really? What if you could start to build up a relationship with a favorite villager from afar in hopes that they’ll think about moving to your town? The game could keep track of how many times you’ve interacted with a particular villager, be it through dreams or by visiting them in any number of different towns, and that interaction could actually increase the likelihood that they’ll decide to move into your neighborhood.
A More Robust Job System. Our first job, that of being mayor, doesn’t pay much. Or well… anything at all, so maybe it’s time for us to knuckle down and get serious about a second job. Expanding out the coffee shop job mini-game we saw in New Leaf could be a fun way for the more devoted players who are seeking a challenge to earn bells. Most people would, at least for a while, happily sort mail at the Post Office, help customers find what they’re looking for at the T&T Junction, and yes, fill customer orders in the Roost to earn bells. We’d love to see a system which will reward us with bonuses for showing up at the same time each day, or working weekly shifts. We’ve all got loans to pay off, after all!
Happy Home Designs. Regardless of how you feel about Happy Home Designer, its furniture placement system is a great step up from previous Animal Crossing games. We’d love to see that kind of functionality incorporated into the newest game, allowing us to truly decorate our dream home.
Public Works Projects. Look, the miniature Eiffel Tower is cute and all, but outside of benches and a few buildings, what do we really get out of Public Works? Pocket Camp has whetted our appetite for fun and functional additions to the village; if I put in a skating rink or a slide, I darn well want to see my villagers using it! Speaking of public works, if we were to put in something like a soccer field…
In-Town Mini Games. What if you were able to build a Public Works Project that enabled mini games, both with your villagers or with your friends, via multiplayer? Step onto the field to open up a new screen which allows you to play tennis with your villagers, or touch football with your IRL besties. Even better, We’d love to see a page taken from Toad’s Rec Room, allowing us to place two or more Switch screens together and play mini games, such as hide and seek, fossil hunting, or solve puzzles together across multiple screens. Utilize some 1-2 Switch features to have run-in-place races, copy Tortimer’s poses, or have a fruit-picking competition, all from the comfort of your own town, and we’d be thrilled!
Travel the World. With City Folk, we journeyed to the city. New Leaf took us to the island, but there’s a whole, wide world beyond our little towns! We heard tales about these places and even received souvenirs thanks to Gulliver, and we know our character would be glad to blow a few hundred thousand Bells to visit them themselves! Rather than listing all possible locations right away, these destinations could be locked behind in-game events, or even rotated out seasonally, providing fresh content and new places for the player to explore, as well as something other than your debt to Nook to spend your bells on.
Different Holiday Celebrations. Ok, we recognize that this is a ridiculously big ask, and we recognize that it’s probably not in the cards, but bear with us! The first year of Animal Crossing is always the best; it’s an entirely new game, a new town to set up, and new events to explore. But those same events are often stale by the time the second year rolls around. You’ve collected all the prizes, soaked up the holiday, and you know the basic lines of dialogue that your villagers, even if they’re an entirely new set, will say next year. But what if there were more than one way to celebrate a holiday?
We spent Halloween in New Leaf trying to scare our villager friends and having our items transformed into other things in the pursuit of candy, but what if only some people celebrated Halloween that way? What if you could give special gifts, or treats, to your villagers, and get different kinds of treats in return, based on how much they like that particular trinket? Or if you could spend the night gathered together in the town square watching and performing Halloween themed plays and skits? What if you learned about these different customs from the villagers of other towns, and you had the option to decide how you wanted to celebrate the holiday the following year?
Christmas could involve giving gifts, or going full Krampus and pranking villagers who have been bad. In some towns, it could even involve lighting lanterns and sending them into the sky. Easter could be celebrated with hiding eggs, arranging flowers, or by collecting ingredients to make a series of treats for the entire village to eat together. It would be a lot of coding, but imagine the excitement of talking to a friend about your experience, only to realize that they celebrated the holiday in a completely different way. It would help keep the game fresh and interesting two and three years down the line, and, even if you choose to celebrate the same way year after year, would add to the feeling that your town is just one, small piece of a much bigger world, full of different characters and customs.
If any of these features and improvements will be included when Animal Crossing makes the leap to the Nintendo Switch later this year remains to be seen. We can’t wait to see what surprising and unexpected features we learn about in the next Nintendo Direct, and are eagerly awaiting an official Animal Crossing Switch release date. Until then, get hype, mayors, we’ll all be coming home to a new town very soon!