Friday, September 15, 2017

Happy 15th anniversary, Animal Crossing!

Excuse me for sharing this story again, but Animal Crossing first hit North American store shelves 15 years ago today, so I think it bears repeating.

Which story? The one that goes something like this:

Before Animal Crossing was released in my neck of the woods on Sept. 15, 2002, I was only mildly curious about the GameCube. I found early titles like Luigi's Mansion, Pikmin, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Monkey Ball awfully appealing, but not appealing enough to purchase the disc-based successor to the Nintendo 64.

Even Animal Crossing's initial release didn't prompt me to pick up a GameCube--despite my keen interest in the game.

No, it wasn't until a year later, when Nintendo dropped the GameCube's price to $99 and published a "Player's Choice" version of this adorable life sim that I jumped in with both feet. The rest, as they say, is history.

I still fondly remember my gaming setup in those days. My husband and I lived in a tiny apartment (just 450 square feet, at most) in Madison, Wisconsin, at the time, so I after my silver GameCube and a copy of this game arrived on our doorstep I promptly tucked both of them and a similarly tiny TV into one of the corners of our bedroom.

I played Animal Crossing whenever I could from that moment forward. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I quickly became obsessed with it--checking in on my big-headed, stubby limbed avatar (a pink-haired girl, if I'm remembering correctly) at least once, and often a couple of times, a day.

At some point, many months down the road (maybe eight, but definitely not 12), it all became a bit much and I walked away from my first Animal Crossing town and all of its anthropomorphic inhabitants cold turkey.

That's actually become a tradition for me with this long-running series. Every Animal Crossing game I've tackled since this GameCube iteration has fascinated me to the point that I played them daily until I felt I either had to walk away without a backward glance or risk my sanity.

As much as I've enjoyed all of those subsequent titles--New Leaf, especially--none has matched the original. Yes, the first Animal Crossing (at least as far as folks outside of Japan are concerned) is by far the most antiquated, but I also think it's the most focused.

My affinity for this Animal Crossing's simplicity probably explains why it's the only entry in the series I've ever returned to--and not just once, but multiple times.

I'm sure that will remain true even after the inevitable Switch title drops next year or the year after, no matter how great the latest sequel is.

How about you? Do you return to Animal Crossing for the GameCube now and then? Or do you have particularly fond memories of your only playthrough of this one-of-a-kind experience? If so, share some of them in the comments section below.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Square Enix's Project Octopath Traveler looks like a love child of Bravely Default and Romancing SaGa, and that thrills me

Although it had its flaws and was far from perfect, I really enjoyed playing through Bravely Default a few years back.

Combine that with my nearly life-long interest in Square Enix's old (and on-going) SaGa series and, well, it should be easy enough to understand why I'm thoroughly intrigued by the company's upcoming Switch RPG, Project Octopath Traveler.

After all, Project Octopath Traveler looks like a thrilling mashup of the above-mentioned titles in its latest trailer (below), wouldn't you agree?

Sadly, I can't say for myself whether or not this 2018 release lives up to that pedigree, as I don't yet own a Switch and so can't play the Project Octopath Traveler demo that was made available via that system's eShop following yesterday's Nintendo Direct broadcasts.

I can guarantee you, though, that I'll play that demo for all it's worth once I finally get my hands on a Switch--assuming that happens before the retail version of Project Octopath Traveler hits the streets, of course.

In the meantime, what do all of you think of this "HD 2D" RPG? Does it thrill you, too, or does it make you shrug your shoulders in disinterest?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Nintendo's doing its darndest to get me to buy not just one New 2DS XL, but two

I don't know about you, but I thought there was a lot to like about today's Nintendo Direct broadcasts.

After all, Japan's Nintendo Direct revealed that a fourth Style Savvy game--known there as Girls Mode--will be released in that country on Nov. 12.

The Japanese broadcast also prompted reactions of shock and awe by unveiling a 2018 sequel--or is it more of a spinoff?--to Dillon's Rolling Western that's being called (across the pond, at least) The Dead Heat Breakers.

Oddly, neither of these games were shown off or even mentioned during the North American Nintendo Direct. Still, I have a feeling they'll eventually see the light of day here, too.

All three of the Nintendo Directs also shared new details about and even in-depth looks at previously unveiled 3DS and Switch titles like Kirby: Battle Royale, Kirby: Star Allies and Square Enix's intriguing Project Octopath Traveler, which looks to be equal parts Bravely Default and SaGa. They also let it slip that the first Dragon Quest Builders is being ported to Switch and will release this coming spring.

Still, as much as all of the above brought a smile to my face (and kept it there through the duration of these 45- and 50-minute videos), none of it thrilled me as much as the news that the white-and-orange New 2DS XL, previously a Japan-only product, will hit North American store shelves on Oct. 6.

To be completely honest, I need another 3DS like I need a hole in my head, but I've been considering replacing my old "flame red" system for some time now, so why not do so with this smartly colored redesign?

The only thing that's keeping me from pre-ordering one of these white-and-orange handhelds right now is that Nintendo of Japan showcased an even more attractive color scheme--white and lavender (see above)--in its broadcast.

Of course, it's highly unlikely Nintendo of America will bring that model to our shores, so maybe I should just go ahead with the white-and-orange purchase.

Or maybe I should save my money so I can actually buy a Switch once Nintendo finally works out the kinks in that console's production process?