Today, I did something I'd been too scared to do for some time. I looked at the number of hours I've spent playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf on 3DS. Unsurprisingly, it is my most played game on the system, with hundreds of hours on the clock. I still play it almost every day, for apparently an average of 28 minutes, and I love it to bits. So the idea that the Wii U might play host to another Animal Crossing game very soon sounds... terrible, actually.
The beauty of AC (as us cool kids call it) is the relationship the player develops with their villagers. I love chuckling at Kid Cat's gym bro patter, being confused by a military frog deciding of his own free will to call me “Sweetie” and running errands for a penguin in a polka dot dress. To be brutally honest, I feel closer to some of these digital lads than I do my real life friends and family.
So as you can imagine, the idea of starting again, abandoning my friends and my museum full of dinosaurs so I can start again in shiny HD graphics on a less convenient format. I've always preferred Animal Crossing as a handheld game, so if there were a Wii U release I suppose I could just skip it like I did the Wii game. Ideally, though, I'd like to see Nintendo take a different route.
Mario Kart 8's latest batch of phenomenal DLC included an Animal Crossing themed track as well as the Villager and Isabelle as playable racers. The number of minor details included was phenomenal; trees dropped boosting fruit, rocks delivered coins when struck, Mr Resetti jumps from holes and Tom Nook watches proceedings from the sidelines.
Nintendoland, at Wii U's launch rocked a mind-bending Animal Crossing minigame where one player controls two guards. Super Smash Brothers has the Villager as a playable character, not to mention assist trophies, items and levels from the AC series. But although I love all of them, these three games lack the main thing that makes Animal Crossing so appealing; that personal touch.
What I'd love from an Animal Crossing game on Wii U would be something akin to Pokemon Stadium and its minigames on the Nintendo 64. Let me transfer my village, my characters and stories, onto a big Wii U package. Let my villager, with his giant diving helmet, race around a track that runs through the town where I am mayor. Let Kid Cat and Camofrog chase eachother around The End instead of a generic village.
There's probably little chance this is what Nintendo are cooking up; if anything with the Animal Crossing brand gets announced at E3, it will probably be a home console version of the full game. But I can dream; after all, handheld Animal Crossings generally sell more than double what home console versions do and pretty well everybody with a Wii U already owns a 3DS. Maybe Nintendo would think the chances of selling those people another Animal Crossing village experience are slim. They already experimented with the Animal Crossing plaza on the Wii U.
And hey, seeing as we all know Nintendo's NX is going to be a hybrid handheld/ home console, this would seem like the logical next step.