Nintendo’s adorable Animal Crossing series has been charming gamers for over a decade and the latest in the series, Animal Crossing: New Leaf (ACNL) continues the reign of cuteness. Since its initial release last year, over 5.4 million copies of New Leaf have been sold globally, making it the 4th highest selling game on the 3DS, placing it above The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. Curiously, despite its enormous success, conveying the game’s appeal to a friend unfamiliar with the series is no easy task. Somewhere between describing fishing and furniture shopping, you may stop to ask yourself, “Why do I like this game so much?” The truth is, beneath it’s coy exterior lies a darker, diabolical truth. The fact is, ACNL encourages players to commit deplorable acts for their own personal gain. But while other “bad behavior” games, like Saints Row IV, wear their reputation on their sleeve, ACNL hides this insidious secret beneath a huggable outer shell. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is evil. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
5. Debt is fun.
If the global financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that debt is no reason to stop spending! ACNL lets you carelessly accumulate debt like a golden parachuted Fanny Mae or Freddie Mac CEO without any fear of prison. In fact, there is really no motivation to ever pay back your unreasonably hefty mortgages, that is unless you desire an even bigger mortgage. If the crushing debt gets lonely, you can always start an expensive public works project and let the villagers foot the bill. If things get too heated and a cuddly animal villager threatens to chop off your fingers with a Happy Axe, you can always sail off to the exclusive island resort where the working class commoners can’t get you.
4. Who needs employment?
While we’re on the subject of irresponsible financial planning, ACNL, doesn’t just encourage a lavishly expensive lifestyle, reality mogul Tom Nook literally mocks typical, blue-collar employment! Why waste your life like a mindless middle class worker drone when you can physically push villagers to buy your exorbitantly priced crap at the flea market? If price-fixing doesn’t float your boat, you can always snatch up everything in town that’s not nailed down and sell it back to those villager suckers for a 100% profit!
3. Rape of the natural world.
Lucky for you, exploitation isn’t limited to the townsfolk. ACNL further enables your nihilistic habits by providing the tools needed to completely strip the environment of all its natural resources. If fruit production doesn’t seem up to snuff, go ahead and chop down the entire forest to make a few bucks. If any uppity villagers complain, just start a campaign of abuse and intimidation to run those Lorax-loving tree huggers out of town!
2. The things you used to own, now they own you.
While Tyler Durden himself would be proud of the anarchy you can create, even he’d be appalled at the soulless, materialistic monster you’ll become as an ACNL Mayor. Your wickedly obtained wealth inevitably turns your home into little more than a trophy case to hold your stuff while you go out and get even more stuff! Once that house is packed to the gills with stuff, the only thing left to do is buy a bigger house with an even bigger mortgage and continue the vicious cycle.
1. Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop.
Despite its ability to subliminally corrupt our hearts and minds, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is amazingly fun and arguably the best of the series. Somewhere along the line, seemingly mundane activities, such as exploring the museum or arranging furniture to maximize your home’s Feng Shui, become satisfyingly zen-like. The game’s brilliant use of the real-time clock to schedule town events and subtly alter the environment, along with the various relationships you begin to form with the individual villagers makes Animal Crossing: New Leaf seem less like a game, and more like a pleasant place you want to frequent. A lot. Seriously, this feature would never even been written if the battery in my 3DS hadn’t died.
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