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Various write-ups.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Potential Features for Animal Crossing on the Switch

Hello again!

As some of you may remember, and in some cases be annoyed about, mainline Animal Crossing skipped the Wii U.

But why?

Financially lucrative, appealing to most demographics, and genuinely adored, having this franchise pass over Nintendo's last home console seems like a wasted opportunity to many. Personally, I believe that a big part of why this didn't happen was that the principle novelty of the hardware was dual-screen play.

Though unique among home consoles, dual-screen functionality has been leveraged as the primary means of moving the Animal Crossing franchise forward on Nintendo's handhelds. Wild World on the DS saw a more intuitive interface and expanded feature set that later carried over into New Leaf, alongside a plethora of other additions and adjustments. In many ways, Animal Crossing games tend to be improved iterations of each other as opposed to full-blown sequels, so releasing a title on the Wii U might not have only seemed a little redundant but also as a less convenient way to play as well.

It doesn't help that the development team was quite busy coming off of New Leaf, having a hand in building the Wii U's interface, Nintendo Land, and four other projects: two of which were Animal Crossing related and one being Splatoon, the first entry in Nintendo’s wildly successful new IP .

However, with the release of the Switch, we now have hardware that’s abandoned dual-screen play as its core feature, instead finding its novelty in being functional as both a handheld and console. Because of that, I believe that an Animal Crossing made on this platform won't be disadvantaged by losing the pivotal boon of playing anywhere or held back by the technical limitations of a traditional handheld, making it a strong place to push the series forward with little compromise.

Today, I thought it'd be fun to consider what interesting innovations or mechanics could be implemented on a Switch version of Animal Crossing to provide a unique, interesting play experience.

Here are just a few that I’ve come up with.

Tablet Notifications

I think an external notification system that allows players to receive more notable updates on what's going on in their game would be pretty useful.

An external notification system would be great to keep you informed when playing another game or doing something else entirely.

Something like this could be integrated into the standard notification system of the Switch or an external app. Whether available on the cartridge, through the eShop, or even on mobile, a lean secondary application would be a great alternative to help conserve battery life in portable mode. A mobile application in particular, perhaps integrated through the Animal Crossing mobile game, would provide the benefit of a notification system you'd always have on hand. Being optional would mean that only those who really want to keep up with their game would have updates coming in, respecting players in a way that most apps typically don't.

StreetPass-style Trading

Though Nintendo's confirmed that StreetPass isn't a feature of the Switch, I feel that a means of hypothetically connecting it, the 3DS, and mobile platforms in some way could have interesting interactive uses.

Connecting players across all platforms would be a great way to bolster the respective communities of each game.

Trading in particular is something I think would be fun. Imagine putting items that you don't personally want out for a new home. Passing by folks playing New Leaf or the upcoming mobile game would allow you to give away these things alongside accompanying letters, and maybe receive something unique for yourself.

Maybe an expansion of shops would allow you to design your own items to sell and provide a means for passersby to show their approval later on or even buy something for themselves! I think that this could be a really cool way to make bells and expand social engagement in a safe, rewarding way.

Window Mode

In much the same way that the introduction of handhelds has been an excellent fit for allowing us to enjoy Animal Crossing in short bursts, I think that the application of a secondary mode for home use might also provide an interesting means of increasing efficiency and respecting the player's time.

Window Mode would be an immersive feature that would be like, well, a window into the game's world. Functioning like an informative, interactive screensaver, it would intuitively allow players to see what's going on in their towns.

Wouldn't it be fun to count down and watch the New Year's fireworks from the comfort of your own home?

You could see what the weather's like, if you've got mail, perhaps a hint of whatever festivities may be happening on a given day, and more. You might even get friendly villagers saying hello, dropping things off, or wanting to talk! Of course, some folks might not like having too much socialization come their way, so you would be able to adjust your —customizable— blinds and/or curtains to make it so that other villagers know you're looking for a little privacy.

Personally, I think this would be a really fun little touch that could also help players who tend to get lost figuring out what to do and allow those at home to passively engage with the game while still being productive instead of dedicating the time to sitting in front of the television and turning the console on and off when wanting to play.

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