The Mayor Takes to Arms
It can be argued that Animal Crossing shouldn’t have a fighter. The closest thing to combat in that game is the inner conflict that occurs when you stand there with your bug-catching net behind Tangy and wonder if she deserves a good thunking. But that didn’t stop me from wanting the Villager in Smash Bros. Brawl, and It doesn’t stop me from being overly joyous at his presence in the upcoming Smash duology. And they got him more ‘right’ than I could have ever hoped.
In a video at E3, Smash Bros. creator, Masahiro Sakurai, outlined his design philosophy for the way VIllager plays. He says that Animal Crossing is a game about collecting, and for that reason Villager needs to use a lot of crap at his disposal. From dropping bowling balls on people, to chopping trees upon them, the Villager looks to be a very item-oriented character, but not necessarily one focused on zoning or traps, like one might expect. He seems like a weird indirect-attacker, and I’m interesting to see how it plays out. Especially the bit about being able to collect projectiles and then launch them back at your foes.
It really is hard to get a complete sense of what Animal Crossing‘s resident can do, and how exactly he does it. There’s not been a lot of solid footage about him in any way that demonstrates the different aspects of combat and how he takes them. For example, he can grow a tree and chop it down… but it’s a segmented move. Is it just spamming down+B? Is it a taunt that damages? And how does he grab items? Is it like a special thing he can do on a timed dodge? There’s a lot of interesting potential here, but it’s hard to see what exactly we’re looking at without some sort of demonstration video or real hands-on experience.
If there’s one thing I really want to see come out of Villager’s appearance, it’s a proper use of alternate color variations, and even alternate ‘costumes,’ to be an excuse to put Villager in different shirts. Animal Crossing is about collecting things, and that includes awesome shirts like the Fish Bone shirt, the BB shirt, and the Aloha shirt. If they don’t pick these for color variations, there has been a bigger ball dropped than this bowling ball on Mario’s head.
Finally, I wanna talk about some of the small aesthetics we can employ to give Villager the kind of experience fans of AC can get crazy over. I think a great intro animation would have Kapp’n’s taxi cab pull up and the Villager hop out. I’d love to see a taunt animation that shows him pull out a random fish from his pocket and show it off to the camera, but really the best thing to put there would be different e-motes like the Cold Wind and Laughter. Sadly there’s so many good animations and so few spaces for taunts… I just hope they up the number to all 4 directions on the D-Pad! They could probably save a couple more for victory poses, but I want to make sure we at least get the “Paid off my loans” dance in there, somewhere. That’d even be a sweet li’l victory music for him. Although I think the best choice there would be the default Town Tune, complete with randomly changing note at the end.
Alright, I realize I’m nerding out -way- to much on the Villager. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see him, though, so I hope you’ll forgive my overblown enthusiasm. What do you think, though? Are we scraping the barrel for characters? Is he the perfect fit? What shirt do you want to see him wear the most? “Leaf” your comments below! (My god, am I really going to leave it like that? Yeah… Yeah I am…)