Switch owners have had a very nice couple of years in terms of software released on the console. Nintendo’s trotted out some heavy-hitters early in the console cycle, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild soon followed by Super Mario Odyssey and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate coming late last year. Newer favourites like Splatoon 2 have provided support alongside a selection of choice Wii U ports, and with Super Mario Maker 2 and Fire Emblem: Three Houses on the horizon - and more quality games on the eShop than we have time to play - life’s been pretty good for Nintendo fans of late.
We’re an insatiable bunch, though, always wanting more-more-more, and there’s one game fans are clamouring for on social media perhaps more than any other. Animal Crossing is a game that takes over your life, if you let it. One of the best descriptions of its undying appeal we’ve ever read appeared on UK Resistance, a classic (mainly Sega-focused) site from years ago. Writing about the then-current DS entry Wild World, they said it’s less of a game and “more like keeping a diary or remembering to have breakfast. Animal Crossing is just a simple little thing you have and do every day. It's like your kettle.” The whole article is a great read (with some strong language) that really captures the essence of the series; the way it hooks into your life and becomes a fixture of your everyday beyond the usual remit of a mere 'game'.
We’ve tried to satiate ourselves with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, but it’s hardly the full-fat experience we’re hungry for (and some of its money-making systems feel worthy of Tom Nook himself). Despite worries that Animal Crossing Switch might slip, Nintendo recently reconfirmed to investors that it’s on course to release this year. As the Nintendo DS and 3DS versions demonstrated, the series is a perfect fit for handhelds, but while it has always been brilliant, there are still myriad ways it could be improved. Some things, like full HD and a shedload of new items and villagers, are a given, but while we await new details on the game, we’ve compiled a selection of things we’d love to see in this new iteration...
A persistent online hub city integrating Miiverse-style features
First up, we’d love to see a City Folk-style hub make a return. Obviously, we’d expect significant advances in the eleven years since the Wii game (oddly renamed Let's Go To The City in Europe and Down Under), but imagine heading into a metropolis for a Friday night out with friends or meeting up for a little Saturday afternoon shopping before dinner and a show. The opportunity to see K.K. Slider on another night of the week would be fabulous. How about an auction house where you could bid against other players on objet d’art to donate to your town’s museum without having to rely on that dodgy Redd character and his spurious wares?
We're thinking something like a cross between the intro hub of Splatoon 2 and New Donk City. The social posts (remnants of Wii U's Miiverse) coupled with a larger urban canvas would be great for Sunday morning market meet ups to chat and trade items, attraction park trips or city tours. A shared online space would open up a wealth of new location and interaction possibilities for the series while retaining the quaint small-town feel of your own village.
Expanded multiplayer activities
In addition to the above hub, and the usual town visits, an expanded set of minigames would be welcome. Tortimer’s simple games from New Leaf were fine, but something a little more comprehensive (and quicker to set up) wouldn’t go amiss. Simple things like being able to go to Tortimer's island (or the equivalent area) from the main menu would be a significant quality-of-life improvement and might make us more inclined to play those minigames.
Some sort of notification system
How many times has real life distracted you and caused you to miss your window to sell turnips or check Redd’s tent on a certain day? Even if you’re visiting regularly, it’s still easy to forget something. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could set reminders to come up on your Switch, or perhaps even better, push notifications to your phone?
We realise that this has the potential to turn the game into a chore, mixing it in with all the other reminders and things to tick off your daily to-do list, but then again, Animal Crossing is all about that – it would be a nice option to have for people who want it. Might as well use that damn Nintendo Switch Online app for something, no?
Labo VR Support
Why not? We’re not the biggest fans of its implementation in Breath of the Wild, but Super Mario Odyssey proves that bitesize VR can work well, and it might be fun to look at your townsfolk or tour your museum or perhaps try fishing via the Labo VR Goggles.
Alternatively, a couple of Tortimer’s minigames could be created for VR. Bug photography, anyone? With the Labo VR Kit out in the wild, the colourful world and characters of Animal Crossing would lend themselves well to Toy-Con experimentation. Even if the game doesn't feature a Labo VR mode, a little more camera control would help us enjoy our high definition village that teensy bit more.
Expanded Amiibo functionality
After the disappointment of Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival on Wii U, you might be ready to jettison the entire idea of support for Nintendo’s NFC figure range, but Animal Crossing on Switch offers a great opportunity to add value to those little statues collecting dust on the shelf. Obviously the range of AC ones could offer bespoke abilities, but why not tie character colour schemes, wallpaper or upholstery to each of the figures? Imagine, for example, if each one unlocked a unique marble statue or topiary of the character to decorate your garden. Imagine if you could use your Blathers amiibo to summon him immediately to your location to evaluate your fossils and paintings.
There are countless applications and they needn’t be super complicated – we’re not expecting to be able to play as these characters or anything – but as we’ve written before, the potential in the amiibo line is arguably going to waste. We’d love a great excuse to crack out our collection.
Revamped museum and less repetitive dialogue
On the subject of Blathers, we love him dearly, but true to his name he does repeat himself an awful lot. It got to the point where we gave up on taking fossils to him simply because his spiel became irritating after three or four hundred evaluations - we wish he'd take things off our hands a little quicker if he's just going to repeat himself! The sheer amount of text that goes into each game is incredible, but we’d be very grateful if the old owl had a few more things to say when we tap him for his expertise. This could apply to all villagers and shopkeepers, really.
The museum itself could do with an overhaul, too – it’s all a little staid, like an underfunded local amenity. Let’s get some interactive exhibits in there! Let’s expand the aquarium! Maybe you could set up a relationship with the National History Museum in the big city and organise loans or travelling exhibitions – something a bit more exciting than a series of boxy rooms to house your fossils.
More K.K. Slider!
We like to get down Saturday night with K.K. whenever we can, but the reality is that most adults are too busy to catch his performance at the weekend. Yes, we might be able to squeeze in his DJ set, but we'd like to see him crop up a little more often. Not too much, you understand, we'd just like the opportunity to see him more than once or twice a week.
In fact, this could combine well with the 'online city' idea above. Perhaps Slider plays a matinee performance at the concert hall on a Tuesday afternoon. Or maybe he's singing the national anthem at the sports stadium for the big game on Sunday. Maybe he's a judge on the X Factor at the TV studio or gives music classes at the community college in the mornings. It'd be lovely to find him more frequently if we wanted to.
More item interaction, especially in the kitchen
There's something cute about Animal Crossing's restraint and the limited ways you can interact with household objects. Over the years, turning on a toaster or playing with the microwave has given us tiny thrills of discovery - just like when a villager suddenly drops a line of dialogue that you've never seen before - but surely it's time to expand on those little Easter eggs. If we've got a blender in the kitchen, let us make a smoothie with all the delicious fruit we've been collecting; let us bake cakes for our villagers; let us use some of these appliances we've got lying around the place!
We're basically looking for Animal Crossing X Overcooked - now there's an indie crossover we could get behind! Somebody give Ghost Town Games a bell...
More house upgrades and choices
Buying and upgrading your home has been a staple of the series from the beginning, and we've seen various improvements and refinements over the years. The addition of mechanics from Happy Home Designer into the updated version of New Leaf greatly improved your ability to furnish your home quickly and easily.
We'd like to see an expansion with more customisation options for house upgrades; to be able to decide the size and order of rooms, window placement, shape, layout, and have all those things reflected on the exterior of our home.
and finally, NES Games!
Oh, how we'd love to see a return of the NES games from the original Animal Crossing. And it's not such a far-fetched idea! Everybody who's signed up to Nintendo Switch Online has access to a small but growing library of those games already and there's nothing to stop the developers unlocking those to find in Animal Crossing, provided you've got an active subscription.
Of course, they could just throw them in anyway, but we're trying to anticipate the strange Nintendo-like issues that may get in the way. Regardless of the method, it would be a lovely nod to the origins of the series. SNES or N64 games might be pushing our luck, but if you don't ask, you don't get, right?
Those are a few things to get started, but we're sure there are plenty of other ways to expand on the series' winning formula. Which of these sounds good to you? What ideas do you have? Share them with us below.