[Nintendad Coffeehouse] I Was Once A Time Traveler

A Controversial Subject: Animal Crossing Time Travel

The act of time traveling in Animal Crossing has always been a rather divisive topic in the Animal Crossing community. I can understand why, to be honest. There are people who think it goes against the spirit of the game, but there are others who see it as something that the game allows, and thus, not a problem. New Leaf does have some consequences for traveling in time with any turnips that you have purchased to sell at the end of the week getting spoiled as a result, but to those of us who never played the turnip Stalk Market, this was hardly any sort of a hurdle.

As someone who would get into New Leaf for just a few days at a time, I think my tendency to time travel is what would keep me from being invested in the long term. I would get on a kick of playing with time travel for a few days before I grew bored and stopped playing. I think the ability to get what I wanted quickly kept me from feeling like there was a need to come back. I never got into the daily gameplay loop. And after that time I played around with cheat devices… well, Nook spent a lot of time upgrading my house for a week. 

I came to terms with the fact that I am not a good Animal Crossing player some time ago. I know it can sound strange to say that. After all, Animal Crossing is one of those games that it is not really possible to fail at. Failure isn’t really a thing for life simulation games in most cases anyway. They’re meant to be a more relaxing breed of game. Nonetheless, I’ve always been a bad Animal Crossing player to some people because I engaged with the game in just about every dishonorable way possible. New Leaf is the only game I have played more than once or twice, but with New Horizons on the… horizon, I have decided to come clean and mend my ways like I have always wanted to.

The Experiment

I made a promise to myself that I would go back to New Leaf and play it one last time before the big day came where I went to Mr. Nook’s island paradise. I also decided to challenge myself to not time travel for the entire time that I played. That meant that I would be playing it daily and in much shorter bursts than I was used to playing Animal Crossing for. No longer would this be a game that I played once every few months.

It only took one look at my weed-ridden town full of villagers that I did not recognize in the slightest for me to decide that it might be fun to start all over again. So I did! I named my town TheShire just like my prior one, but it was a blank slate in every other regard. I’ll admit that Isabelle seeming to panic a little over the total destruction and erasure of the my former town didn’t make the act feel very good though. I know that’s the point of it, but that hit me more than a lecture from Mr. Resetti ever could. 

Turning Over A New Leaf

So my new Animal Crossing life began, one without traveling through time like I had always done before. Though, I made one concession with the time in my town. As someone now working a nine-to-five with a decent commute, I adjusted the actual time in my town by a few hours. My Animal Crossing town is just in a slightly different timezone from me, that’s all. Once everything was set up, I got going and found myself in a town with Cube, Iggly, Blanche, Winnie, and Fauna. One tent set up and a tree planting later, I was set free to play.

I was tempted to time travel immediately. 

I had the bad luck that my first day playing was the Festivale event, where Pavé encourages you to catch feathers floating through the air with a net in order to get special items. My problem was that a net was not being sold in the shop that day. Even though I knew that in less than a month I would not be bothering with this Animal Crossing town again, I was severely tempted to travel through time so that I would be able to participate. While I knew that it was just some bad luck for a starting day on my part, it still was a really strong temptation right off the bat. I chose to end my first day a little earlier than I had initially planned to, shutting things down as soon as I had finished with my down payment. As a result, I ended my first day with little more than a bed, some white roses, and about 1,000 bells.

The days that followed were the typical Animal Crossing fare as I went about my daily tasks and started to build myself up little by little. By the second day, a villager had already laid claim to space far too close to my house for my liking. I found out that the early game had been somewhat broken by the Welcome Amiibo update since I was able to use a handful of the “Meow Coupons” to exchange for bells and completely pay off my house on my second day of playing. Then again, I was immediately in debt to Nook since there is no avoiding the bigger house if you want somewhere to put your stuff. It certainly was a change to the way that I had initially played early days of the game when I had first started years ago.

Where I Am Now

As I write this, I’m just over two weeks out from beginning my experiment and have been playing regularly in contrast to how I used to play. I have noticed that my behavior in the game has changed as well. Instead of making a beeline for what would net me the most money, I’m playing at a much more relaxed pace and just doing things as they come. I never did errands for my villagers when I first played, because I rarely talked to them before. Now, I’ve done a handful of tasks and I’m paying much more attention to my villagers than I ever have in the past.

This started as a personal experiment, but it really has changed the way that I approach the Animal Crossing series. I think it is safe to say that I won’t be doing any more time traveling in the time I have left with New Leaf or when I move over to New Horizons. Yet, I still don’t begrudge those who want to use time travel to play the game how they would like. I know that my ability to play the game the way I currently do is not something that would have quite worked for me during my rougher college semesters. I also recognize that I don’t generally have a completionist mindset, so I don’t feel the need to always be optimal in how I play a game. While my perspective has changed, I still don’t have a problem with time traveling, even if I don’t think I will be doing it again.

If you enjoyed this Coffeehouse feature, consider checking out our other Animal Crossing: New Horizons coverage, including our hands on impressions of the game from PAX East!