Animal Crossing's dark side revealed

Kidnapping, indentured servitude and drug trafficking, right in your own backyard

On the surface, Brewster seems like a rough-around-the-edges bartender that’ll open up after you prove your friendship. But after listening to his many-ellipsied statements it becomes apparent this is his refuge from the real world, possibly for some unforgivable crime. He just sounds so sad all the time, and the depressingly melancholy tune playing in his pub is absolutely devastating.

Yes, there’s something terrible in Brewster’s past. He’s constantly tortured by it. And for whatever reason, he’s chosen this town as his tormenting sanctuary, his own personal Silent Hill. Christ that’s profound.

Moving out of that wrist-slittingly awful place, I head to the custom clothing shop, run by two cuties Sabel and Mabel. Mabel is the busybody clerk and Sabel… well she’s put to 24-hour shifts, always sewing, always brushing you off so she can address her mountain of finger-bleeding work.

Pester Sabel too much and she’ll snap at you, prompting this reaction from Mabel, who appears to be channeling her best evil stepsister routine. This is nothing new though, as we’ve been witness to Sabel’s sweatshop conditions since the first game. After six years of seeing it, we’re desensitized to her plight. Meanwhile, someone else in City Folk has been neutered further than ever…

Poor Kapp’n has been reduced to driving a bus from the town to the small area of a nearby city. Previously, Kapp’n was a proud sailor who belted out a salty lament of love long since passed, a tale so moving you could taste the sea-spray misting over his crushed dreams. Now he’s a bus driving broken man.

The arrow is pointing at a model Kapp’n keeps on his dashboard. This is him from the GameCube game, happily rowing at sea. Then in Wild World he hovers around Brewster’s bar (no doubt swapping horror stories of their current condition) only to be delegated as bus driver in City Folk. His sentimental dashboard reminder proves Kapp’n has a lot on his mind, and if anyone’s gonna help us out of here, it’s him.

Success! I’ve escaped that god-awful cult thanks to Kapp’n (his deed will not go unnoticed by the townspeople, so I fear he’s already dead) and try to find an escape route. Down a dank alley I find a door, the only one not surrounded by capitalist pigs (literally, pigs who won’t stop shopping) and get this response:

“Hide the…”

DRUGS?! Yes I believe that’s what the next word is. We all know who’s behind that door (Red, the shrewd purveyor of rare works of art), but has he ever been so close to being caught with stolen merchandise… RED HANDED??

And I’m sorry to say pun brings this dialogue to an end, for you see there is no end to my character’s suffering. Animal Crossing continues without interruption; Nook will always want his money and the residents will never stop checking up on you to make sure you’ve not run off somewhere. The city’s a dead end, and it’s back to the one town on the one road in sight.

Such a bleak lifestyle would break down even the staunchest mental defense, and I’m sad to say that after weeks of infinite toiling for little to no reward, my once-innocent child has become one with this shadowy society. Just take a look at his basement for Chrissakes.

It’s like that hallway from Return to Oz with all the screaming heads, only in place of severed skulls there are perpetually twitching gyroids begging for mercy that shall never be granted. The last one that asked for something to drink was plopped in front of that pissing statue.

That’s it. He’s a lost cause. Let’s move on. Well, there’s still one parting observation worth pointing out:

City Folk has introduced the lower class into the Animal Crossing mythos! Up till now we assumed every villager had his or her own place, happily living their lives in material luxury. Now we know some animals do not fare so well. Kicks here is sitting on the steps in front of a boarded-up building, possibly his former business run into the ground by Tom Nook himself. If he’s in plain sight shining shoes, we have to assume there’s a penguin around the corner turning tricks for 50 bells a pop.

Not sure if I can continue playing such a dystopian look at the once bright-eyed world of Animal Crossing. Maybe some laser dismemberment in Dead Space will cheer me up.

Nov 25, 2008

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