With the increased free time available to most people as we self quarantine, the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons couldn’t have come at a better time. While bound to their homes, players can create their own island landscape, fish and plant flowers, all while indebted to a raccoon. The game has recently taken over social media, proving to be on track to be the most successful Animal Crossing yet.
In Animal Crossing: New Horizons the game follows the same format as those previous in which players are indebted to a raccoon named Tom Nook. Players can expand their deserted island community while also expanding their own house, but they must pay off ever-increasing loans to Tom Nook, which can reach sums of almost 3,000,000 bells, bells being the Animal Crossing form of currency.
The storyline of Animal Crossing has earned Tom Nook a reputation among players as exploitive and money hungry, portrayed in many online memes. However, New Horizons producer Hisashi Nogami argues that the business raccoon is just misunderstood. “We think Tom Nook is a very caring, really great guy,” Nogami tells The Verge.
Nogami explains that Nook never gets angry, and is patient with players. “He’s an adult, so he’s very careful with money.”
New Horizons director Aya Kyogoku feels the same, stating, “Even if we borrow money from him and it takes time to pay him back, he never gets angry, he never gets mad,” she says. “So if we could all try to be a little more responsible and pay him back, it might make him a little happier.”
Many players of Animal Crossing echo this sentiment, explaining that Nook does not put pressure on players to pay up, rather players pay at their own pace at no increased interest. As well, they earn bells by performing community improving tasks.
Nogami believes that Nook functions as structure for the rather free form nature of the game, explaining that if players didn’t have those huge loans to pay off, they wouldn’t be so inclined to spend their time fishing, catching bugs, and doing other things to earn bells. “It’s one of the biggest motivations that users have to continue playing Animal Crossing, and Tom Nook is the man behind that motivation,” Nogami explains.
To increase motivation to perform those seemingly mundane and repetitive tasks, New Horizons also features the Museum in which players can display the multitude of fish, bugs and fossils they find while playing, incentivising players to catch every specie. And, to catch every specie is not an easy task, as their are hundreds, with each appearing in different locations and at different times in the day.
The creators behind Animal Crossing: New Horizons understand the juxtaposition of their game to the realities many are facing right now and hope what they have created can be a beacon of happiness in otherwise uncertain, and at the very least, mundane times.
Nogami states, “Considering the timing, we hope that a lot of the Animal Crossing fans will use this as an escape, so they can enjoy themselves during this difficult time.
Photo Source: TheGamer