UPDATE: Nintendo have announced the Animal Crossing Direct will air for Europe at 14:00GMT, 2nd November 2016!
An Animal Crossing ‘Mini’ Direct will air for Japan on 2nd November. The Direct will cover the previously announced amiibo update, as well as some “other features” coming to Animal Crossing New Leaf.
As a 1000+ hour New Leaf fan (legit, no time travel), I’m very interested to see what this will mean for the game and everyone’s towns! In this article, I’ve offered some predictions on the new content. But first, let’s quickly cover what we already know…
In late July, the New Leaf Update was revealed, both Animal Crossing and other series amiibo will gain new functionality.
Around the time of this announcement, Callie & Marie of Splatoon had just received the amiibo honours, and we got a sneak peek of their functionality, as an example of non-Crossing integration.
Additionally, a Nintendo Direct on 1st September showed a new Campsite area would be added to New Leaf. Using a new range of amiibo cards, brand new villagers can be scanned in and visited here, offering new items and the possibility of them moving in permanently. The card set will feature 50 Villagers.
We also saw existing amiibo cards can be scanned in with the help of ‘Wisp’ (a returning character, but new to New Leaf). Now, the game is set to re-launched worldwide this November with a ‘Welcome amiibo’ subtitle, and the new set of amiibo Cards. “Other features” were also teased in the American Direct, but otherwise this is all we know.
1. What Will the New Items Be, Brand New or Recycled?
We can already confirm from the Splatoon info that we are getting some new stuff, but what other items can we realistically expect?
I’d love to see new detailed and complex items to really enhance the feel of themed rooms and homes. New music from K.K. Slider would also be fantastic, but offering tracks from other games (with a K.K. infusion) would be especially exciting!
Keeping things optimistic, we can see a few new items already, in the footage from September. Taking a quick look around this Camper Van…
We can spot several new gaming items, a Wii U, GameBoy Demo Unit and another kind of monitor screen on the right. But, although these are new to New Leaf, some of these items already appear in the spin-off title, Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer.
Happy Home Designer allowed Players to decorate homes and facilities with total freedom, and a lot of new furniture was introduced with the game. As these items and sets don’t currently appear in New Leaf, it’s safe to assume the update will add them, wholesale.
I would guess each card will provide two or three new items, with a push for you to buy more cards to complete new sets of items. As shown in this screenshot below, you can order Villager’s items by visiting their van.
I’d also assume once the update hits, any new items from the cards will be fully installed in the game data, and also be available without the cards. This is the case in Happy Home Designer, which allows all content to be unlocked free of amiibo, but using the cards does speed up the process. This ensures all fans can enjoy the update, regardless of having to buy amiibo cards.
I really hope we get a lot of BRAND NEW items! I’ll be disappointed if the new content is just HHD stuff, that exciting to me. the Splatoon info is promising, as we see items specific to those characters. I want Bowser Furniture or even new music from the Zelda or Metroid series. Third party or Pokemon content? Perhaps too lofty a prediction… But building a Pokemon-centre-themed-house in my town would be electric!
2. amiibo Figure Unlockables & Classic Characters as Residents?
So lets take a look at these early screens, featuring the Splatoon amiibo…
We can obviously see Callie & Marie with unlock some entirely new items! With a keen ‘crossing’ eye I can safely say the wall, floor and ‘Splatfest banner’ are all ‘fresh’. Hopefully, each amiibo figure will unlock two or three new items each, the hair pieces worn by the Players here are new additions too. The table and chairs are just re-textured furniture, which is a feature already present in the game.
In another screenshot, two Villagers donning new outfits matching the Splatoon theme are seen visiting a Player. Other than special events, you never usually see Villagers in unusual costumes. Taking a look at all the Squirrels from New Leaf (it’s a safe bet these are Squirrels), none of them seem to be the two seen here. Could that mean these are Callie & Marie in ‘Crossing-form’? … Although an exciting idea, it’s easily debunked. There’s no logical reason a Splatoon amiibo would unlock a new Squirrel Villager and not a cephalopod, as Octopuses already appear in New Leaf.
They could simply be two of the new Villagers from the new card set, wearing items brought in by the amiibo or update itself? We’ll see.
This doesn’t mean new Villagers are out of the question for all amiibo though… The screenshot below shows a brief flash of possibility in another Animal Crossing trailer.
Thanks to amiibo, a character like Blathers can visit your home, a totally new feature. It’s a given scanning in figures like this will grant some kind of reward, but nothing is confirmed. It would be great if ‘non-Villagers’ like Blathers, K.K. Slider or Tom Nook could become residents! I’d be surprised if Donkey Kong, Yoshi or any other non-Crossing characters make an appearance, but I’d still love to have Fox McCloud living in my town!
One reason this update is happening (just my speculation) is to push the Crossing amiibo figure line, which hasn’t sold well. Currently, any one figure in the range can be found for about half the price of other amiibo. So, presumably we will see these toys given enhanced features to boost sales.
However, I already have an Isabelle and Kapp’n amiibo card, so what will those offer me? I doubt duplicated figure and card characters will function the same, and I would only buy a figurine for some really premium features, such as permanent residency for classic characters.
Is Kapp’n welcome in your town?
3. OTHER FEATURES?! Town Planning & UI Development
Yes, the cryptic ‘other features’ comment… This could mean a little, or a lot. Let’s try to keep things focused and not go crazy. This is a ‘Mini-Direct’ after all.
In context of the update, we know new Villagers will want to come to our towns. Currently, New Leaf can be home to up to 10 Villagers, which move in randomly and plonk their houses wherever they feel, potential destroying entire areas in the process! If Nintendo is hoping to kick start a new amiibo buying crazy, this number should be increased, hardware permitting. Most towns could comfortably house 12 Villagers, but will this update finally allow Mayors to pick and choose who lives where in their town?
I’m very much looking forward to buying some cards, but I don’t want my 3 years of work to be destroyed by the constant moving in and out of yet more vermin- err, I mean, friends!
Many, many fans have complained about this and requested the functionality to designate specific areas for houses. Housing plots were present in previous Crossing games, so why not bring it back! Adding an interactive way for people to place Villagers would make town planning much easier and more fun.
The random destruction of towns has turned off a lot of would be fans, so it’s something that really needs to change. It’s already been confirmed that after the update, all town weeds will be instantly plucked, easing the return for any lapsed players.
As well as smoothing out town planning, updates to the user interface would be lovely. Stacking items and managing tools could certainly use some tweaks to speed up the day-to-day grind for dedicated fans. Additionally, the amount of superfluous text in the game could also use an update.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told the same tutorial information, or heard the same welcome messages time and time again. I’ve put over 40 days worth of play into this game, I know what I’m doing! … Maybe I’ve played too much… But if Nintendo is updating this relatively old title so long after launch, surely I’m expect to still be playing!
It’s likely we’ll see features brought over from HHD too, such as mounting more items on walls, and hanging lamps from ceilings.
4. The Future of Animal Crossing
Finally, what does this update mean for the future of the series? It’s certainly odd that this is even happening. I would have hoped for DLC just after launch, but since when has a game been given such a robust update so far after release?
This causes me to ask some questions about what’s going on behind the scenes for the series.
With the new card series featuring 50 characters, I wonder where they’ve all come from? Of course, some of these ‘new Villagers’ are actually characters from previous games who didn’t make it into New Leaf originally (please can we get Twerp to come home?). But 50 is still a big number. I would assume at some point during the Wii U’s time, an Animal Crossing game was planned but ultimately canned due to the poor sales of the system. After all, we got a free Animal Crossing Plaza tool and Amiibo Festival on Wii U, which means HD assets have been produced.
I can’t help but wonder if some of these new Villagers were actually designed for Animal Crossing U but have ended up in New Leaf to help recoup some of the production costs for a Crossing title that was sadly binned.
Even as a hardcore fan, I didn’t bother with Amiibo Festival. It’s watery gameplay is no substitute for the savage, life absorbing New Leaf.
Looking to the future then, will we see a new Crossing on Nintendo Switch (due March 2017) any time soon? … With New Leaf getting a full re-release this Christmas, you can expect that to be promoted quite a lot for the next few months. Creating this update and promotion only to quickly announce a new game doesn’t make sense. So I would assume Crossing for Switch is still quite far off. Mid-2018 far.
As stated early, the goal here is to move unsold amiibo with a strong update to an already popular game. The significance of Nintendo doubling down on New Leaf shouldn’t be underestimated, as many fans already own a lot of amiibo, they’ll have to offer some quite enticing things to make people want more of them.
And a new deal with Sanrio to produce Hello Kitty amiibo cards is proof Nintendo knows this. Although exclusive to Japan, this cross-over takes both game and amiibo in a new direction, which could tempts fans to buy amiibo well beyond a single pack or two.
If this update and the new cards succeed in revitalizing the Animal Crossing amiibo line, Nintendo will definitely take note for future installments. Likewise, if this move is not strongly received, a change in the amiibo strategy as a whole will certainly be on the menu.
So now let’s watch, with our fingers crossed and purses at the ready. Will the amiibo update send you on a shopping spree? What new features would you like to see? Are you still hoping for a new Animal Crossing this side of 2020?
Let us know!!
PS: Below I’ve included a video by YouTuber, BRMeny, who has highlighted the presence of Public Works Projects in the new Camper Van area. Worth a look!
BRMeny has many short prediction videos on the update, most of which I agree with. But rather than hear me repeat them here, why not visit his channel!