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Animal Crossing Dead Leaf

                Alright first off I have to warn you that anything that happened in this game I can’t fully explain, because, in all honesty, I don’t have the slightest idea how, why, or what the hell was happening. All I can tell you is that it thoroughly scared me, and that’s saying something for someone who grew up playing games like DOOM and Commands and Conquers when I was 5 or so.


                I’ve been an avid gamer all my life, growing up with some of the best, or worse that the gaming world has to offer. Games like DOOM were my top favorite to play growing up, despite having to turn off the sound because as a little kid the growls in the background scared me to no end. Never the less, I never quit playing and often decided to show them whose boss by shoving a rocket down their throats. As the years went by I started playing different games, but never quitting on being a gamer. When the first Gameboys started to come out I was blown away. Now I could play games anywhere and often did so, even though a lot of us learned why you should never play in a car. I was already prone to car sickness as it was, so a Gameboy never helped.

                Well enough background, fast forward to the current day. I’m now 23, spent some time in the military, and left that hell hole to join the real world. As I attend college to become an electrical engineer, I still maintain my status as a gamer. The only difference is the technology has improved, and the games have in my own opinion failed to follow suit. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some great games in the mountains of crap that seem to rely on amazing graphics but zero plot or anything that the great games of the past had. Now I’m not pointing fingers…. *cough* Final Fantasy *cough*.. but we can all think of a few game titles that have gone from the top, down into the toilet. As for myself, I have started playing a lot of different games but have found a few titles that I truly love. One of them has just recently been released. Animal Crossing, New Leaf.

                For a game that you do absolutely nothing of value, I can’t explain why I love Animal Crossing. When I played it before on the DS, I found it very addicting. There are no goals, no score, no missions, or anything that can be considered an objective to shoot for. You walk around talking to little animal people and collect things to sell. Never the less, it has a very strange charm that keeps you playing. Every day something new happens and you can find some way to kill time. It became amazing for just that, killing time and keeping yourself busy when you have nothing else to do. So as you can imagine, being a gamer I had purchased a 3DS back when they first came out. This was back while I was in the military and since then my 3DS shows its own scars from the years. When New Leaf came out instead of buying it at a game store, I thought I would save time and buy it off of the Nintendo shopping channel. Having it saved on my 3DS would save me time and space by not having to carry around more game cartridges.  As soon as it was downloaded I started playing and wasting time.

                After getting out of the military and starting college I had to find a way to earn a little income, for gas, and whatnot. Just up the road from where I live is a huge campground that I was able to get hired as a pool attendant for their indoor pool. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a lifeguard, nor do I even have to help anyone if they are in trouble. I would anyway but it’s not part of the job. There are even signs around saying “no lifeguard on duty”. So I often spend my 8 hours trying to kill time as the summer rush hasn’t started. As soon as school lets out, I will be plenty busy keeping the pool running. For the time being, I often sit with a completely empty pool, listening to the hum of the dehumidifier. The hum itself is nearly enough to drive you insane after spending hours with nothing to do. As you can imagine, a game like Animal Crossing is ideal in my situation. Perfect for killing time and taking your mind off of the boring job, not to mention that I had a few things in the game I was trying to do.

                I’ve been playing the game for close to a week now, but not obsessively. I often pop on to see how my town is doing, check on my stuff, and maybe catch a few fish to sell when I have nothing to do. If I’m working I will play around more just to kill time, but I also play other games as well. I don’t want to wear out the game's fun too quickly. As always, if you have done anything major to the town it will take a day to take effect. I had finally paid off my third house loan and asked that it be made bigger. I was also excited to see what the new ordinance I had enacted would do for the town. As the town’s mayor, you are able to place ordinances to the town in order to change how the town works. I had just put one in place that should make the people pluck weeds, and water the flowers. Even though this seems rather pointless to anyone who hasn’t played the game, to everyone else, we know how annoying it can be to have to constantly run around watering the plants and plucking weeds every day. As soon as I had finished getting the pool opened and ready, I opened my 3DS and started Animal Crossing.

                At first, nothing seemed out of place with my 3DS. The system started fine, all the games were there, and it hasn’t been dropped recently or damaged in any way. When the game started up, normally it will show you a resident walking around, but instead, it just showed my house. I could see that it was raining in-game, and even saw a flash. I really wasn’t sure if there was or wasn’t supposed to be lightning in this game. I knew it could rain but because I haven’t played long enough to say otherwise, so I didn’t think much of it. The bigger issue was the lack of any residents on the start menu, but again I figured that it was early in the morning so maybe they were all asleep. Every time you continue the game your assistant, Isabelle, she then tells you the time and date and will let you know if anything has changed, like people moving in or out. When I started up my town, she informed me that a resident had moved away. At first, I didn’t think much of it because I had been having people move in all week, so some people were bound to move away as well. The game started like normal, my character stepped out of his house and I noticed that the mailbox had some mail. When I checked I saw I had a letter from every one of the residence. As soon as I started to read them, I realized something was very wrong. Every letter said only one thing, “goodbye”.

                As you can imagine at this point I was just a little confused, annoyed, and shook up all at the same time. I had never heard of anything like this happening in any of the Animal Crossing games. When I started to explore my town I saw that the people’s buildings’ were there, but every single one was empty. They were completely bare of any furniture or sign of life, and this was true for any building that wasn’t needed for shopping. The people that ran the stores were all there, as well as my assistant, but no one else. I soon noticed that all my flowers were dead as well, which wasn’t right because it was raining. It’s not uncommon for a flower to die if it’s not watered but all of them were being watered by the rain so to see them all dead was a little unsettling. Something else was nagging at me in the back of my mind but I just couldn’t figure out what. After a little bit I realized what it was, the music sounded wrong. The normal happy tune was playing but, every now and then it would sound as if it hits a sour note. It sounded wrong and even though it wasn’t a constant problem, I knew the music well enough to know that it sounded off.

                Before long I didn’t know what else to do so I started my normal routine of gathering everything to sell. Shells, fruit, and anything I could dig up. Nothing seemed out of place at the time except the unusual amount of fossils I dug up. I nearly had a full inventory of them, which I wasn’t complaining about because they sold for a lot. When I went to the museum to get them checked I noticed the owl that runs it, Blathers, was not only awake but he was doing the same animation for when you give him a bug. He kind of dances around looking worried or scared. At first I actually thought this was normal, like a reaction to the lightning outside. It struck me as a very nice touch as far as a well thought out game goes. When I spoke to him though, he said “They all just left” then gave me the normal options as far as donations and assessing fossils. When I gave him the fossils, I found out they were all skulls of dinosaurs. Not only did this seem very strange but what Blathers said also gave me an uneasy feeling. I left and headed to the Re-tail store to sell all my fossils, the whole time still looking for anyone from my town.

                When I arrived at the Re-tail store I hadn’t seen another living soul in the game. The rain and lightning continued the whole time I was outside and the music seemed to be hitting a few more sour notes. All of this made me want to quit and play something else, but I couldn’t until I figured out what happened to my game. I had been working hard in my town and it just becomes a ghost town overnight? When I entered the store, it seemed normal, as far as Reese saying her normal hello, but that changed as soon as I talked to her. When I spoke to her she said “He always worked so hard that I never got to be with him. So he had to go.” This left me with a feeling of dread as far as not knowing who she was talking about. I was then given the normal options and sold all of my fossils before checking the rest of the store. The rest of the store is used to sell any item that you don’t want any more, you can place them on a pedestal and put them up for sale. All of the pedestals were empty, but that was to be expected as I had no more residence. There was one other thing missing from the store though, Reese’s husband is always seen sleeping at the work table at the east side of the store. His normal spot was empty; in its place was just an empty stool. What was more confusing even if it was a minor detail, was that his stool is always a blue that matches his own color. Now the stool was a red color, not blood red, but a deep red never the less. Whether this signified anything or was just a glitch I can’t say, as I don’t have a clue myself.

                I left as soon as I was finished in the store, still unable to shake the very uneasy feeling that everything was wrong. This was a kids game for crap sake, why was all of this was happening? There was no way for me to check online to see if this has ever happened because there was no Internet at the pool. All I could think to do was keep looking around to see if anything would reveal what in god’s name was happening. I soon started fishing to see if I could at least raise a little more money, but every time I caught something it was always some form of trash. I caught a few tires, a boot, and even a dead fish. I honestly didn’t even know we could catch a dead fish, but there it is. All it said for the item was “eww, smells bad”, and it looked like the bones of a fish someone had eaten with just a head and tail left. After that, I just gave up fishing and started to search the rest of my now empty town. The music continued to sound wrong and was hitting more sour notes than before. I’m not sure if it was my imagination or not but I swear the music sounded like it was slower than before. I soon found that at the north most point, the south most point, east, and west, there were spots for new houses to be built. When I checked the names on the signs they all read different initials. At the north it was D.T. then the east was P.T. west was F.M. and south was W.R. I had no idea what they meant or what this signified but it was seriously giving me the creeps to the point that I wanted nothing more than to turn off my game. But I wouldn’t because I had put so much time and effort into it. I was invested in my town and felt that I owe it at least a little bit of effort to see what happened.

                With nothing else to do, I decided to shake a few trees to collect fruit or anything else that came out. After everything else that had happened, I figured things couldn’t get much stranger. The music now had gone from only a few sour notes to sounding like a jumble of random notes creating a very annoying song. I had to turn off the sound because of it and started checking the trees. After a while I noticed that not one tree had any fruit, but rather when I shook them, a spider would always come down instead. Seeing a spider or two wasn’t unusual, but to see that every single tree had one really bothered me, and not just because I HATE spiders.  I started to see something dark moving just past the curve of the map; the world seems to curve away at the top as it has always done with Animal Crossing but every now and then I swear I could see something black move just past the edge of the horizon. From the glimpses I saw, it seemed to bob up and down. It reminded me of someone riding something, but I never got a good enough look to see what it was.

                I was running out of things to do, or things I wanted to do. I checked the different stores, first seeing if anyone else was missing. To my relief, no one was gone. But I refused to talk to anyone just in fear of what they might say. That was until the curiosity was killing me and I decided to talk to the only one I felt couldn’t say anything too strange. I went to talk to Tommy Nook, Tom Nooks' son.  When I entered the shop, he said his normal hello before I could look at the shop. There was nothing unusual being sold at the shop so I tried to talk to him. He smiled and said “No matter where you run they are always watching you. You can’t outrun them and you can’t hide” Followed by the normal prompt of selling or nothing. Needless to say, my jaw dropped and I was speechless. What the hell did he just say? And what did that mean? I left as quickly as I could and ran back to the main section of town. I tried to turn on the sound but when I did I heard nothing. At first, I thought my speakers had broken and plugged in my earbuds to check, but no there was no music. When I walked I still heard footsteps but they sounded wrong, I could almost swear I heard something else in the background. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was but it sounded like it was getting louder and I saw the black thing again. At its loudest, I could swear it sounded like a horse in the distance. When the black bobbing thing left, the sound faded as well. The only sounds were that of my footsteps and the horse, even though it was raining and thundering. It then hit me that the lightning had never had a sound to start with, they were just silent flashes, but now the rain sound had stopped.

                I had nothing else to do now, everything was wrong, and I had no idea why. When I shut the 3DS for a bit to do my chemical checks for the pool all I could do was try to focus on what I was doing instead of what I had just seen. My town was gone, and it was replaced with a messed up ghost town full of insane people, and empty houses. Who was moving into the other four spots, and what did their initials mean? All of this just left me feeling scared and at the same time pissed off that all the time I spent on my town just went down the drain. As I finished checking everything, I had an idea. If I leave the game in the main 3DS menu and close the program, nothing will be saved. Maybe then I can have my town back and all of this creepy crap would go away. As soon as I sat down I did just that, exited out, and closed the game. As soon as I had started the game what I saw scared the hell out of me. Now instead of just showing my house what it showed was an empty town. The screen kept moving over the entire town in a square formation going from one corner to the other. All I could see that was left was the four spots for the new houses. I couldn’t see any trees, or people, or even any bugs. I kept debating if I was going to start at all or just leave it. I just left the game and closed it again, I couldn’t go back into that empty town but before I left I saw something on the title screen. Instead of saying Animal Crossing New Leaf, it said Animal Crossing Dead Leaf. What this change meant I don’t care at this point. I went into my 3DS’ memory and erased the game.

                When I get home I can use our Internet to reload the game and just start all over again. As much as I hate losing all that progress, it seems it was already lost. In the end, I have no idea what could have happened to my game. This wasn’t a game I got from a stranger or a store, it was purchased online. There is no reason for anything that had happened unless it was preprogrammed to happen.  Even that makes no sense to me because it’s just a kid’s game. It’s met to be fun and entertaining, not creepy, wrong, and disturbing at all. That is also why to me this was one of the worst parts of what happened. It was something that I never expected and had no idea how to react. I can only hope I never have to see that town again and be happy I never saw exactly who it was riding in the background.

When I get the game back on, I will update with any new news. I very much doubt this is the end of it all.