Oh, Animal Crossing: City Folk. I didn't want to love you, but you gave me no choice.
I gave up on my Tamagotchi after just a few days. And I never had any patience for The Sims. Because I have enough problems to deal with in my own actual life on a daily basis. I can't be bothered to make sure that little electronic people (and/or space chickens) go to work, get something to eat, and avoid shitting on the floor... I have a hard enough time making sure I do all those tasks myself. And then I went and had a kid, and I don't know if you knew this or not, but the Japanese word for child literally translates into High Stakes Tamagotchi, and lemme tell ya, they got that one right on the nose. So he takes up a lot of time right there. No time left for Sim Anything, not even a Sim Something I build up over time and then eventually get to wreck with storms and monsters like I used to over at my friend Sam's house growing up.
(And Liam really likes to pretend to be storms and monsters, so I get my fix right there.)
But my friends Jeremy, Annie, and Joel all used to talk about the original Animal Crossing for the GameCube, insisting that it was better than any old SimThingyBlahBlah, that it was fun, pleasant, even relaxing. I was skeptical, but when the Wii version, Animal Crossing: City Folk, was released last fall, I figured it was worth a (free) rental to see if I could understand The Big Deal. And I didn't. Until about Day 3.
See, I think that's how long it takes the game to really grab you. The first day you're getting used to the controls, exploring the town, and enduring the indentured servitude of the raccoon you're forced to work for part-time in order to secure a loan (from said raccoon, no less) to purchase a small house. The second day, free of the yoke of forced employment, you can really get down to the business of seeing the sights, talking to the animals in your town, maybe even learning to fish or dig up fossils if you can get your hands on the proper equipment. And by Day 3, you settle down to your new little life.
And you're hooked. At least we were. I think because it's such an easygoing indoctrination. With The Sims, it's all pressure right out of the gate. Find a house! Get a job! Talk to your neighbors! Aim for the toilet! AC is much more relaxed, especially after you're free from the raccoon. Hey, pick out a house for yourself. You'll have to make mortgage payments, but there's no timetable, just pay when you can. You should plant some flowers, help make the town look nice. Swing by the museum and have a cup of coffee. Can you bring this present to one of the other neighbors? Thanks, here's a gift for your troubles, too. Hey, wanna play hide & seek?
Everything's so soothing, that I generally don't mind any of the actual upkeep chores that occasionally need to be done. Watering the plants, looking for fish and bugs, delivering packages for other animals... it's all just another chance to visit our little town of Pluot (named for the yummy plum-apricot hybrid fruit because, well, we couldn't think of anything else at the time). It's a welcome respite from real life sometimes, and it's very easy to get wrapped up in everything. Last week, our favorite neighbor, grumpy alligator Del, moved away, and we were legitimately sad to see him go.
Yeah, we need help. I know. At least we still remember to feed the kid. Wait...