In June, Nintendo will launch Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the 3DS.
The Animal Crossing games have always had you live among a cosmopolitan microcosm of the animal kingdom, and used to leave you to lead a quiet life of luxury; plucking fruit, catching fish, and collecting furniture.
But that's all changed. In New Leaf, you're made mayor of the village as soon as you step off the train, and must take charge of your up and coming hamlet.
In this diary, then, you'll follow my rise from travelling vagabond to empire-building governor. You'll also be able to guide my journey, by suggesting tips in the comments below.
We'll have a full review later this month. But, for now, here's our daily diary of life in Kusanagi.
(Click on this here hyperlink to be magically transported to my final diary entry.)
Day 1 - Thursday, May 9th
The long journey to my new home was already well under way. The click-clack of the railroad tracks hypnotically keeping the rhythm of my travels.
A charming blue chap by the name of Rover approached me, politely asked what the time was, where I was headed, and what my name was. So I readily handed over this information: I told him that my name is Xero, and my destination is the wonderful town of Kusanagi.
Kusanagi is a place I'd spent many glorious months in during previous years of my life, yet I hadn't visited for a long while and I thought it high time to rectify that.
If I had left Kusanagi due to an over familiarity with its environs - packing my bag and leaving to visit strange new lands filled with other adventures - then any fear of tedium setting in for this fleeting visit immediately vanished when I saw that the lie of the land had completely changed.
Or at least, that's how it appeared to me.
No sooner had I stepped off the train than I was greeted by a veritable parade of Kusanagi townsfolk, though no one I recognised. The welcoming committee gathered round me, and amidst the chatter, a yellow dog named Isabelle casually mentioned that they were excited to see their new mayor.
"I'm the mayor?" I thought, "but how can this be...? And just why does everything look different in Kusanagi from when I was last here?"
In hindsight I should have rejected the idea of taking on the daunting challenge of running a whole town, but in the confusion of my arrival something inside me compelled me to blurt out, "yes, I'll be your mayor!"
After being briefly shown the Town Hall it was off to Main Street - which is just past the train tracks I'd arrived on - and to meet Tom Nook.
Ah... Tom Nook... now there's a name I recognise. That man had nearly ruined me when I last lived in Kusanagi all those years ago, constantly tinkering with my home in exchange for cold hard Bells when I didn't ask for the renovations in the first place, and I certainly didn't have that kind of money.
Yet he didn't recognise me. Perhaps I really had been away from Kusanagi for too long.
So Nook and I went to find a piece of land to build my new residence upon, and when I had found the perfect spot - a peaceful and quiet area away from Main Street and by the tranquil ocean - he set up a tent for me to stay in for the night.
My day was far from over, even though I was getting extremely tired by this point. I needed my TPC (Town Pass Card) which acts as a form of ID for all the citizens of Kusanagi. I don't remember needing one of these last time I resided here, and it seemed a little authoritarian, but then the world was a very different place in 2006...
One last order of business before I could turn in for the night: the tree-planting ceremony in the Event Plaza. This I was told was to symbolise my arrival, and the new life I might breathe into Kusanagi - a sweet gesture, if ever there was one.
Completely pooped, I retired for the day.
Day 2 - Friday, May 10th
In my recently acquired government position of mayor, I was expecting to run up against a little red tape, sure. I didn't, however, think I'd be completely hamstrung by it on my first day.
It turns out that Isabelle is to be my aide. She then rather nervously informed me that I would need a town development permit to get anything done around Kusanagi.
To be granted one, I would need to own a home - which I was well on the way towards doing - and to meet a slightly less concrete requirement.
Yes, I am going to have to make the townsfolk happy.
Isabelle must have noticed the frustrated look on my face as I left the office for the day, for when I arrived home she immediately came through the tent door to offer me a gift (largely, I feel, to put me back into the good mood I had arrived in yesterday).
I graciously accepted her gift of a lamp, and proceeded to set it up in my temporary home.
As I drifted off to sleep in the warm glow of that lamp, I thought about the weekend of pure rest that lay ahead of me. And how on Monday I would really need to knuckle down if I was going to get anything done.
Day 5 - Monday, May 13th
Today was a very busy day.
I popped in to see Tom Nook about how much this house he was going to build me would cost. Though it's not the largest sum of Bells I've seen - a "paltry" 10,000, according to Nooky - it's a fair chunk of change for someone just starting out.
Wanting to stay positive, I decided not to get angry at the cost. Instead, I'd become industrious, and try to pay it off in no time flat.
So, I wandered about the town looking for work. There was nothing in the way of what you might call a 'traditional' job going, but the folks over at Reese's recycling centre would apparently pay me handsomely for fruit from the trees and shells from the beach.
Thus, I went about shaking every branch with pears on it that I could find, greedily collecting them up and carting them back to Reese.
After a quick comb of the beach, I had rustled up 5,000 Bells' worth of fruit and shells. Readily available resources were becoming thin on the ground, however.
Ergo, I headed to Tommy and Timmy's shop - I forget its name - to see if there was anything I could buy that would enable me to make even more money.
I purchased a net for catching insects (plus perhaps the odd fish or two) and a spade to see if anything valuable lay beneath the ground.
The net, it would turn out, is useless for catching fish: it's only built for snagging insects, it seems. The bugs also don't seem to be worth nearly as much as a pear around these parts, especially a particularly ripe one.
Digging for treasure also proved unprofitable, as Blathers - the town's resident genius - would guilt trip me into handing them over for display in Kusanagi's shockingly sparse museum.
So, I persisted with the ol' bug catching lark for hours, scraping a living from the land, and eventually I had my hard-earned 10,000 Bells. Exhausted, but with money in hand, I strode into Nook's shop and told him to finish construction on my abode.
Day 6 - Tuesday, May 14th
It was raining today in Kusanagi.
I know this because I heard the unmistakable pitter-patter of rainfall on the rooftop of my house as I awoke. This soft, percussive sound had two effects on me.
Firstly, a serene calm washed over me. I've always loved the gentle repetition of rain on wood, you see.
After that, I felt a slight panic, for I was pretty confident I'd gone to sleep in a tent the night before.
Had I been unceremoniously 'moved' by the builders as soon as they'd finished their job? If so, that's a very personal service. I thought it best not to ask too many questions - I wouldn't want to upset anyone in the town, and maybe this is just how they do things around here.
Isabelle visited to congratulate me on my new home. She generously and kindly brought a roll of wallpaper with her for me to hang, should I fancy a change. Though we're quickly becoming friends, I still didn't feel quite comfortable enough to relay my slightly unsettling story of housing relocation to her right now.
I decided to take a stroll in the downpour, and to thank Tom Nook for his work on my humble abode. On my way, I shook a few fruit trees - the pears squished slightly as they reached the ground - and I swung past Reese's to pocket a few Bells for my fruit-shaking efforts. I had a dig in the mud to see if I could nab a few fossils, too, while I was at it.
Thankfully, Nook's Homes was open. No sooner had I struck up a conversation with the proprietor than I was told that my next payment to him for my house would be 39,000 Bells. Of course, I thought I had paid for the house outright. I thought I was done with him.
I was furious. But, again, not wishing to disturb the tranquillity of Kusanagi with something along the lines of 'but I'm pretty sure this is extortion!', I gritted my teeth and left the shop before I lost my temper.
39,000 Bells is a lot of money. A lot. Trying to put a positive spin on things, mind, it does mean that I'll now be accepted into the "Happy Home Academy". Whatever that is.
Day 7 - Wednesday, May 15th
Today, I received a letter from the Happy Home Academy, informing me that I had been accepted into its ranks. I'll probably go and check out this "exclusive" club at some point, but today is not that day.
Instead, my attention was focused on a strange tent located by the tree I planted when I moved in. It was adorned with intricate patterns and mystical symbols, and I was quickly drawn inside its equally mysterious interior.
A fortune-teller named Katrina told me that she'd read my fortune for 500 Bells. Even though I don't believe in this sort of stuff, I went ahead and coughed up the dough.
Wearing V-striped trousers was her sound advice for a lucky day. And though the light show she put on while performing this divination was rather impressive, I felt slightly perturbed by the whole experience.
After some foraging around town, and the inevitable recycling for Bells, I walked past the local clothes store, run by the Able sisters. On a whim, I checked in, but there weren't any V-striped trousers on display.
Disappointed, but still in the mood for shopping, I swung past Nookling Stores to see what was on the shelves here. A brand-new fishing rod was lying there, just waiting to be purchased by someone like me. So, I did. It was the best thing I'd done all day.
Luck? Pah. You make your own luck.
Day 8 - Thursday, May 16th
Another rainy day in Kusanagi. So rainy, in fact, that I didn't fancy doing much in the way of work today.
I've become fascinated by the fossils I'm finding, though, so every day I'm out there trying to dig up new ones.
Despite the rain and my natural aversion to hard graft, then, I'm still wandering about the town looking for the telltale signs of a fossil beneath the surface of the earth.
When I was done wandering, though, I was completely soaked. So, I decided to pick myself up a brolly.
Drenched and cold, I stopped into the Able sisters' store and nabbed a bright red brolly with which to fend the rain off.
Rounding off this lazy day, I sat on the bench near the cliff edge next to the shops. I watched the waves soak up the water droplets like a damp sponge... almost hypnotised by the motion.
Day 9 - Friday, May 17th
With the sun having his hat on today, it was time I went out to play. I decided to have a nice brisk stroll along the beach.
It wasn't long before I came across a strange item on the sand, mind. It was neither a shell nor a piece of coral. It was, in fact, a single blue glove.
Thus, I was presented with a moral dilemma: would I go and recycle it for a few easy Bells, or try to find its owner?
I still don't really know anyone in the town - I haven't made that much of an effort to do so, in fairness - so I'd look a bit of a wally randomly asking complete strangers whether they'd lost a mitten.
It was only a mitten, after all.
Yet, I took a chance. After introducing myself to Lucha - a small red bird who had just moved to Kusanagi - I found out that he had indeed lost his glove.
I returned it to him instantly, of course. Lucha was so happy it had been found he wouldn't let me leave without handing me a thank you gift.
In Kusanagi, as it is anywhere in my experience, if you reach out to people with honesty and enthusiasm, they respond in kind.
Day 12 - Monday, May 20th
By the end of a Monday, I like to feel like I've accomplished something big to set me up for the rest of the week. So, I set about my routine of combing the town for bits and pieces to recycle, hoping to make a chunk of change.
However, while I was on the beach looking for rare shells, I chanced upon what I initially thought to be a corpse. There was an extremely white figure lying face down in the sand, the water lapping at its feet.
Thankfully, it was no cadaver. It turned out to be a seagull by the name of Gulliver. He had been washed up on the shore of Kusanagi, and was clearly dazed and very confused.
Gulliver kept mumbling something about cinnamon buns and "alpha males" while he drifted in and out of consciousness. I kept prodding him until he finally came to.
He was very thankful for the 'resuscitation', but asked me if I could point him in the direction of his destination, even though he'd forgotten where he was headed.
After a few descriptive words about his final destination such as "respect", "pasta", and a "boot", we decided it must be Italy. Pleased with himself, Gulliver wandered off. I really hope he gets there okay.
Returning to my scheduled day of work, I finished up my beach comb, performed my usual hunt for fossils, and - after having a cheeky splurge on a new 1up hat and some thick-rimmed hipster glasses - swung past the Bellpoint in the post office to pay off as much of my debt to Tom Nook as I could.
To my surprise, I was able to write off the 39,800 Bells in full.
To my surprise, I found myself in Nook's store later that day, requesting a new expansion to my home.
I don't know what possessed me to do so, in truth. But flush with cash, I ordered the extension to my abode without really thinking about the financial implications. That price - it turns out - is a further 98,000 Bells.
I'm a fool. A fool that will probably have a very nice home by tomorrow morning, though.
Day 13 - Tuesday, May 21st
Considering I forked out 98,000 Bells for it, the extension to my home is, well, underwhelming. A few extra square feet of space to put furniture down? I'm a bit disappointed.
In better news, I received a letter from Gulliver today to let me know he's safe and sound and enjoying the sights of Rome.
As it turns out, my dazed seagull friend from yesterday also appears to be a bit of a magpie, as he sent me a 'gift' from his travels.
This took the form of the Bocca della Verità, a.k.a. The Mouth of Truth. A good thing I had just renovated my home, as I doubt I would have had space to hide this contraband otherwise.
On the subject of space, I bought a new wardrobe. I realised I hadn't changed my outfit in a while, and my pink T-shirt - though lovely - was beginning to whiff. So, I went and bought a couple of new tops to expand my collection.
There's a new building going up next to the Able sisters' store, incidentally. I wonder what it could be...
Rather serendipitously, I met three other key members of the Kusanagi community today.
The first was Tortimer, the old mayor. I met him on the beach. He explained that he was now living on a tropical island, enjoying his retirement years. He suggested I come visit, and perhaps I shall.
Lyle from the Happy Home Academy managed to collar me for a chat, too. He was a bit in-yer-face for my liking. Going on about show homes, how the academy scores the houses it looks at, tips for arranging your lounge. I kind of zoned out during this conversation, if I'm honest.
Finally, I bumped into Redd, a travelling salesman who had an extraordinary collection of art. Here's a perfect opportunity to involve the local people in arts and culture, I thought. Fill Kusanagi Museum with incredible works for everyone to enjoy.
I must make a note to hook up with Redd again the next time he visits.
Day 14 - Wednesday, May 22nd
The statue I purchased from Redd arrived today, just as he promised. So, I carted it over to the museum to give to Blathers. The sleepy owl seemed very pleased, and well he should - this is the maiden piece in the newly established art wing.
On my way home, I noticed that construction on a new store on the high street had been completed. I stuck my head around the door to find Leif, surrounded by flowers, seeds, saplings, and all sorts of other green-thumbed paraphernalia.
I purchased a watering can. During the transaction, Leif kept banging on about "happy trees" and "happy flowers". It struck me that this was a person who created landscapes, was very chilled out, very approachable, and referred to plants as "happy".
This was, in effect, Bob Ross in Sloth form.
As I left the store, I noticed the din from yet another construction site had broken the tranquility of Kusanagi. This time, the noise was emanating from the opposite side of the Able sisters' clothes store.
The death of retail is, apparently, very much a myth.
Day 15 - Thursday, May 23rd
I set out with great purpose today, attempting to improve my approval rating among the townsfolk of Kusanagi. It started off in the high 40s, but by the end of play I was approaching 60 percent. This represents a massive leap.
Early on in the day, I picked up an item that had clearly been misplaced. I used this as an opportunity to speak with as many of Kusanagi's citizens as possible, introducing myself to people if I hadn't met them before.
During my 'investigation', I discovered that the ducks named Scoot and Pate hadn't dropped anything by mistake. Neither had Amelia the eagle nor Marcy the kangaroo.
Likewise, the unfortunately named Pudge hadn't misplaced a valuable item. Reese, too, hadn't lost anything recently, and her husband... well, I didn't have the heart to wake him from his slumber as he rested his alpaca head on a desk in the recycling shop.
Thus, the mystery of the lost item went unsolved. Still, I had at least made my face known a little more around town.
In a similar effort to curry favour among my constituents, I redesigned the lacklustre town flag, posted a message on the town's bulletin board, and even ran about pulling weeds from the ground to make the place look just that wee bit nicer.
If I want to maintain the support of 'my' citizens, and make significant progress up the social hierarchy of Kusanagi, I'll need to keep this positive attitude up.
So, I've vowed to myself to be a bit more chatty with residents in the future, and to always be on the lookout for more ways to improve the lives of the townspeople.
Day 16 - Friday, May 24th
Note to self: it's Marcie's birthday party on May 31st, and she's pretty keen for me to attend.
The party invitation I received this morning read: "Things seem more fun when you're around". This is both sweet and a little desperate, considering I've barely spoken to her.
Though I do imagine Marcie and I could easily forge a firmer friendship, I met a Kusanagi resident today with whom I feel I may struggle to do the same.
His name is Rasher, and he's a pig with a rather aggressive personality. I suppose I'd be a bit miffed, too, if my parents had named me after a food product responsible for genocidal levels of death among my species.
Rasher was loud and boisterous, and attempted to justify his bellicosity by finishing a loud tirade with "only kidding". He also called me a swine - supposedly affectionately - which I didn't care much for. I'm going to try and avoid him if I can.
I bumped into Amelia today, too. Naturally enough, we got talking. Through our conversation, I learnt that she was the one who had misplaced that item the other day. I handed it over, and she seemed really pleased. Another case cracked.
In what has been an overwhelmingly 'chatty' day, I also tried to coax a few lines out of Sable, the quietest of the Able sisters. I get the feeling that Mabel and Labelle, the saleswomen of the Able sisters clan, domineer over their sister.
I'm getting very few words out of Sable, but I'll succeed in having a full-blown conversation with her at some point. I'm sure of it.
Pootling back home, I stopped by the noticeboard to see if anyone had commented on the letter I put up. They hadn't. I did, however, see a message from Timmy and Tommy Nook, letting the town know that their store would be closed on the 25th due to expansion.
This place just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Day 20 - Tuesday, May 28th
I received a letter from my mother this morning. In it, she mentioned the weather where she was, and instructed me to get out and enjoy the sun as much as I can.
She also sent me a tank top with a dice pattern on it. It's safe to say that mum doesn't really know a lot about what's going on in my life... and what my tastes in clothing are.
Still, it was nice of her to send it. Oh, and it's another thing I can recycle at Reese's for a few Bells.
With the currency jingle-jangling in my pocket, I headed to the T&T Mart, the newly opened and extremely fancy convenience store. It looks as if Timmy and Tommy are splitting shifts to keep the store open longer hours - I continue to be impressed by their industrious nature.
Kusanagi is a very capitalist little society, so much of what goes on in the town is driven by the acquisition of Bells and the expansion of our high street.
I seem to spend most of my days searching for items I can exchange for the local currency. Once I do have a few Bells in my pocket, I spend them trying to move up the property ladder, splurge on new clothes, or buy up everything in the various retail outlets.
These thoughts struck me while I was trading a ruby I owned with Amelia for her butterfly machine; buying a carpet and wallpaper set from Sahara; and purchasing "fortune cookies" from Timmy and Tommy. So, I'm part of the problem, too.
I'm putting quotation marks around those fortune cookies because - as I suggested a week or so back - you make your own luck in this world. Inside these sweet treats, by the way, is a ticket for a random item from a Nintendo-themed set.
Inside the two I purchased were the Hero's Clothes (from The Legend of Zelda) and the Virtual Boy. Two disturbing fortunes were wrapped inside the cookies, too. On the pieces of paper were messages reading that the land was in peril, and that there was much red in my future.
Just how "in peril" was the land? And what was this "red" meant to represent? Blood? I don't think these fortune cookies should be sold to minors, if these are the kind of messages they contain.
Oh, yes, and I found another item that had clearly been lost by its owner. Honestly, the residents around here... they're such forgetful creatures.
Day 21 - Wednesday, May 29th
If the land of Kusanagi really is in danger, then today was not the day all went to pot.
Today was instead a day in which I dramatically increased my approval rating. You know, so that I might finally receive my planning permit.
Starting with a 78 percent approval rating, I spent most of my time today hunting for bugs, fossils, and fish to improve Kusanagi's cultural enrichment program at the museum.
When not foraging for potential installation art, I was boosting the local economy by buying everything I possibly could from the stores in town. Along the way, I talked to as many residents as possible to try and determine the owner of the missing glove I still had on me.
It was Lucha. Again. That's twice he's lost his glove. And that's twice I've returned it. Idiot bird.
Apparently, "Kicks" - a new shoe store, I presume - has opened up on the high street. I didn't have time to say 'hello' to the owner, mind. I can do that another day. There are more pressing matters, you see, namely the fact I now have a 100 percent approval rating.
'Great,' I thought, 'now I can start renovating Kusanagi as I see fit.'
As with any government position, though, there's red tape involved. I will have to apply for the planning permit, and it will likely take a couple of days to come through. How frustrating.
Though I've enjoyed my time in Kusanagi thus far, I've realised that I haven't actually made any friends. I've been greasing palms and I've been exchanging pleasantries, but I haven't made any firm pals. All of the residents are affable enough, but they're not really interested in interacting on any meaningful level.
I'll admit that my pursuit of power probably hasn't helped the situation, but I'm starting to get tired of working for a town that isn't particularly interested in my being there. Well, aside from the economic boom for which I've been personally responsible.
I'm starting to miss my other life - the one I had before I moved to Kusanagi.
Day 22 - Thursday, May 30th
On June 3rd, I will be leaving Kusanagi. Word came from a colleague of mine back home that I'm needed in another land, and that I must be gone from here by June 4th.
Making the most of my time left in Kusanagi, I decided to pay a visit to Tortimer Island. Just like the old turtle suggested I do over a week ago. I hopped onto a boat captained, rather aptly, by Kapp'n.
Before we set off, Kapp'n noted that the running of Kusanagi is a gigantic task. Thinking about this as I stepped aboard, I realised he was totally right. I began to speculate over the reasons why the residents kept a friendly but distant space between them and me.
I am their Mayor... for the next few days at least. And now that I have my planning permit, I can re-shape the town in the manner I see fit.
In the wrong hands, this kind of power could wreck the lives of many. Chop these trees down, add a large bridge here, place a giant light there... all of that could drastically affect the landscape, and, in turn, the residents' quality of life for the worse.
Being polite, being jovial - that's fine around people in power. But getting close to them? It's probably not a good idea, especially if that relationship should turn sour. In fact, the one person who has really attempted to be pals with me is someone who doesn't seem to live in Kusanagi.
Saying that, I am her direct superior and responsible for her financial well-being. Yes, I'm talking about Isabelle.
Anyway, back to the boat...
We soon dropped anchor at Tortimer Island. The bright, hot sun was beaming down on us. The tropical music in the background of the hotel-cum-activity centre was sufficently pleasant.
Wandering about the island, I picked up a few coconuts and a couple of lychees. I also collected a number of bugs that can be added to our museum collection. Kusanagi seems so isolated sometimes - some creepy-crawlies from distant lands might make for a spicy exhibit.
Then, it was off to the front desk, where I arranged to go on the Easy Hammer Tour. This is a kind of Whac-A-Mole game, albeit played with a robot of sorts.
Suffice it to say, I won a few Coins, but nothing in the island's shop was within my price range. So, with a few fruit and insects in my pocket, I headed back to the mainland.
As we pulled into the dock - Kapp'n singing a sea shanty all the while - I was glad to be back to my temporary home.
I'll miss Kusanagi when I'm gone.
Day 23 - Friday, May 31st
In my final full day in Kusanagi, I thought I'd spend my time with the residents. Rather than getting caught up in the paper chase.
I wandered over to Marcie's house for her birthday party. On the way, I read my mail. Lucha sent me a lovely letter, perhaps in an effort to reach out and make a connection with me. It's a shame this hadn't happened earlier - perhaps I would have stuck around longer if there was something truly special keeping me here.
Upon arrival at Marcie's shindig, I noticed that she didn't have many friends to call her own. The invitation she sent all those days ago now made much, much more sense.
She's a single mum for one thing, forever carrying around her joey in that pouch of hers. That must make having a social life difficult.
Balancing parental responsibilities with nights on the town is tricky at the best of times, you see. Given the residents of Kusanagi are always seemingly trying to keep a respectful distance from one another makes that balancing act even trickier.
The only other guest at Marcie's party was a new resident, a green and brown amphibian by the name of Camofrog. I don't think he'd known Marcie for very long, either.
So, I listened to some music with them, exchanged a few pleasantries, admired the amazing cake, and gave Marcie the gift I'd brought. After a while, I made my excuses and left. I wasn't in an especially party mood.
I needed to let Isabelle know that I would be leaving, and that Kusanagi would be mayor-less again.
But no sooner had I got in than she began talking about the town planning permit that had arrived. 'Would I like to change the way the town is run by selecting new ordinances?' 'Oh, and should we begin a new public works project?'
I'd zoned out. This was my last day.
I wanted to tell her that I would be leaving tomorrow, that I was grateful for her hospitality, and that I had to leave on other business. But as she continued talking about building bridges in her typically excited manner, I found I didn't have the heart.
Should I really leave all that I've started here? It's a beautiful place. And though the people are often distant, I'm sure that with a little time they might grow to like me.
I went home.
I wrote a letter.
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