Behind Animal Crossing: New Horizons (opens in new tab)' most infamous fish joke, there's a story of developers trying to make the game wholesome and heartwarming in every way possible.
Nintendo of America localizer Rob Heiret shared a Twitter thread over the weekend talking about his role helping to bring the game to English-speaking audiences. Heiret said he and the rest of the localization team joked that they were "building the next 5-10 years' worth of memes" while they worked on New Horizons, but that they never could have predicted how the COVID-19 pandemic has made the game a source of comfort to so many people.
Though Nintendo couldn't have foreseen the circumstances around New Horizons' launch, it did already put in the effort to make sure the game always felt as warm, comforting, and encouraging as possible. That's where the story behind the infamous fish joke - "I caught a sea bass! No, wait - it's at least a C+!" comes in
And when we were workshopping the fish jokes, someone pointed out that, as a joke people were going to see many, many times, generally along with disappointment they didn't catch something better, maybe it would be better to spin it positive. Make it a C+ instead.May 10, 2020
Anyway, my point is, we were doing our very best, down to details you might not have considered, to make this the most positive, comforting, funny game we could. And I know the dev team was doing the same.May 10, 2020
Even if you're as tired of the sea bass joke as Heiret is, hopefully now you'll have a little extra appreciation for the thought process behind his fishy wordplay. I don't know about you, but I'd rather catch a C+ bass 8,000 times than a C- bass.
Later in the thread, Rob says it's been an honor (opens in new tab) to be a small part of a game that's turned into a global phenomenon. He also hopes "we don't need the eventual next game in the franchise quite so much."
All that in mind, it's probably no coincidence that Animal Crossing: New Horizons has the best early sales of any Switch game (opens in new tab).