So how long has it been since we’ve seen a proper Animal Crossing? Animal Crossing: New Leaf released on the 3DS almost exactly four years ago in 2012. And since then the majority of gamers have left their towns to suffer slow deaths and overgrowth. Two spin-off games weren’t going to satisfy fans. “We want Animal Crossing U and we want it now” we said. Instead we get an update to a four year old game. But even if it’s just an update, Nintendo did their best to make it substantial:

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  • You’ll get the quality-of-life updates which help modernize the game for 2016, plus the cute new amiibo RV/campground area. Harvey is totally chill and fleshed out as a character. Still, I don’t find myself hanging out there too much.
  • Amiibo add a surprising amount of content here (Finally a real use for all those now discounted amiibo!). Fans have wanted to be able to customize their town residents for a long time and this is a decent way to go about it (and I’m glad they did so through the reintroduction of Wisp too). I love the game specific characters and hope Nintendo adds even more in the future (Finally I can make a NintenTown!).
  • For those with fully upgraded houses, Nook now offers a secret storage basement. It comes in the form of a lower screen tab that acts like a dresser while you’re in your home. It has plenty of extra space for hoarders and collectors.
  • Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer seems to have had some substantial influence on the update. After unlocking Nook’s secret storage basement Lottie shows up and teaches you the ability to decorate like in HHD. It’s a great feature that really takes the tedium out of home decoration.
  • Speaking of Happy Home Designer, owners of either physical or digital copies can unlock some special furniture with their save data.
  • You can now sit on rocks! And you can shake trees while holding some tools! Really exciting stuff!
  • The addition of Desert Island Escape as a playable game (through a in-game Wii U) is a huge plus. That mini-game was pretty much the only enjoyable part of the Wii U spin-off Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival. You can spend Play Coins to use your town villagers or scan amiibo figures or cards to play with those. The update is worth it just to play this.
  • There’s also the 3DS mini-game. It’s sort of a puzzle, tile matching game. It’s not as interesting or complex as Desert Island Escape.
  • The CAT Machine and MEOW tickets add another reason to visit your town. You’ll earn them through daily town initiatives, like selling fruit, fishing, or just saying hi to your animal neighbors. It’s sort of like the villager quests of the original (which I’d still like to see return) and makes your daily visits a little more meaningful. You’ll spend the tickets with Harvey at the campground for unique furniture.
  • The ability to sell your town and start over with TONS of bells is great. You’ll even get options for installment pay and extra for selling your item catalog (Pro-tip, it’s not worth it. I regret it.) Just be sure you’re doing it on purpose...

Here’s the real hot take: This update is a stop-gap. It’s an easy way for Nintendo to extend the life of a game that lost steam with fans a long time ago, and at the same time they can delay the release of it’s true successor on the Switch a year or two. Is it worth it? Sure. The Wii U doesn’t have the userbase to support a full game anyways.

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There’s plenty for fans to enjoy here though. It’s free and it’s good enough for a few weeks of play, but don’t believe for a second this is the revival Animal Crossing fans are looking for.


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JpSr388 is a casual(ish) gaymer, hardcore Nintendo fan, designer & writer. He writes about what he cares about, and is always good for some opinions. Find his sexy ass on Twitter here. Or keep on the lookout for more editorial, QuickDraws, Hot Takes and reviews here.