After months of radio silence, it seems Nintendo is finally going to talk about its long-announced Animal Crossing Mobile game. From the surface, the two are very compatible. Animal Crossing being one of the few IPs Nintendo owns that practically lends itself to social gaming. If Nintendo wants the game to be a success, there are a few pitfalls I’d like them to avoid.
Here are my top five wants (and not wants) from the upcoming mobile game. What would you want to see in it?
5. Solid Core Experience
It’s been a while since Nintendo graced gamers with a new Animal Crossing experience. New Leaf landed on the Nintendo 3DS way back in 2014, receiving a substantial update in 2016. There have been various attempts to spin the series off with Happy Home Designer and Amiboo Festival – neither of which really caught on. What gamers really want is a proper new installment of the series – something that delivers the kind of experience found on numerous Nintendo consoles.
While getting this on mobile phones may be optimistic – Animal Crossing lends itself strongly to dive-in/dive-out experiences. It’s entire framework perfect for social interaction across mobile devices. Even if the experience is scaled down, there’s certainly an argument that its core mechanics (fishing, village design, social interactions) would make for a great mobile experience. Heck, the series has experimented with card games before – potentially opening the door for a card-based game of some kind.
The one idea I really don’t want to see is a minigame compilation. These were introduced in New Leaf and became something of an inspiration for Amiibo Festival – which was pretty blah. Minigames are a fine distraction, but they aren’t strong enough to support a game on their own for this series.
Ideally though, Nintendo will bring the experience gamers love about the franchise to mobile phones. Visiting friends, sharing creations and generally having a good laugh is what the series is all about – arguably few games match the series for its abilities here. If too much is cut out (or the game is another spin-off) it might not find much love with fans or new players. Why bother otherwise?
Where Animal Crossing differs from its contemporary contenders is that it focusses on social aspects. From the moment you enter your unique village, the games push you to interact with other gamers, see their villages and share the experience. Heck, you can’t get the biggest store in most of the games without visiting another village – it’s a practical requirement.
Multiplayer on mobile games is a hard ask though. Even the best experiences pail in comparison to their console brothers, awkwardly laggy or near enough unplayable. I’m not anticipating full-on live multiplayer across two devices. But there has to be some kind of aspect that allows gamers to interact. Sending letters, potentially visiting friends villages or even just trading items – there needs to be some kind of social aspect that brings the experience together. Obviously, if the game ends up being card based (something the series has teased before) this will be easier to achieve.
Whatever the game ends up being, it needs a social aspect.
3. Keep The Games Sense of Humor
One of the best things about Animal Crossing is the games wicked sense of humor. Those of us who’ve sunk 1000’s of hours into the series know that every villager is a delight to interact with – coming with their own quirky sense of humor. From Resetti’s hilarious rants to the random musings of your fellow villagers. It’s easy to get sucked into the world of Animal Crossing if you let yourself fall into it.
The last thing Nintendo should do with this mobile game is eject all this. The cast of characters are strong and form a huge part of the games appeal. it’s why Tom Nook has become a meme all to himself within gaming – and it’s why we all have our favorite villagers. To see the game reduce this in the name of ease of access would be a shame – downright disappointing if done poorly.
Little touches like pitfalls, the way the music changes each hour and the ambience the game creates. This is something sorely missing from the mobile gaming market right now and is something Animal Crossing could ride success on.
2. Go Easy on the Microtransactions
My biggest concern around any Animal Crossing mobile game would the desire to microtransaction the hell out of it. Super Mario Run managed to avoid this for the most part by positioning itself as a premium experience. Pokemon GO, on the other hand, developed something of a reputation for asking gamers to dip into their pockets. Animal Crossing has numerous in-game items that could be turned in this way. From items in Tom Nook’s store through to the ability to make patterns. In the hands of a company like EA or Ubisoft, this would be an experience breaker.
I’m not saying there shouldn’t be microtransactions, that’s hideously unrealistic. But Nintendo really needs to find a nice balance between letting gamers experience whatever the game is and allowing those with less time on their hands to jump the queue. The last thin
1. Animal Crossing Mobile Connectivity To Whatever Comes Next
One of the biggest disappointments from this years E3 conference was the lack of Animal Crossing. As Nintendo Switch continues to sell by the truck load, the lack of Animal Crossing really frustrates. Nintendo has remained quiet over what its plans for the Switch version of the game are – and it’s not likely we’ll find out anytime soon (The Nintendo Direct is confirmed to feature only the mobile game). If Nintendo was smart though, it would begin planting the seeds for that next game in this mobile experience.
Wild World allowed this to some extent, allowing you to export your character to Nintendo Wii’s City Living. While you couldn’t take all your items with you, it did allow you to create a small sense of continuity between the two games – keeping the same character and not being forced to start from square one. Even New Leaf and Happy Home Designer allowed you to interact on some levels – showcasing that the series is willing to let gamers move their experience along.
The point is that whatever this mobile game ends up being – it has to tie into something bigger. Whether it’s exporting a character or allowing you something of a headstart when the Switch game lands – Nintendo would be wise to tempt gamers in. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could shift your character from your phone to your Switch at a moments notice? If you could take the experience with you across multiple devices? Nintendo has been teasing this idea for a while now, Animal Crossing on mobile phones could be the proper execution of it.