Originally announced at E3 all the way back on June 15, 2010, Animal Crossing on 3DS has been one of the most desired titles for Nintendo's handheld. Out in Japan since November 8, Animal Crossing: New Leaf (as it's now known here) is selling monster numbers, and yet it got nary a mention in today's Nintendo Direct US. So the question arises: where's our damn Animal Crossing?
Why is Nintendo of America trying to deny us the sweet pleasure of candy coloured mayoral duties - an experience one of our writers likened to "digital heroin?" Sure, we may have made a little fun of Tom Nook in the past, but that doesn't mean we deserve this evasiveness. Even Europe got a speculative Q2 2013 release date in their personalised Nintendo Direct. After all, Animal Crossing has sold well-to-excellent here in the past, breaking the million units barrier on both its GameCube and Wii incarnations.
But in the two years and counting since its announcement, Nintendo of America have been particularly parsimonious with their Animal Crossing 3DS info. The unplayable 2010 demo was followed by a trailer at E3 the following June, where it wasn't even brought up in their presentation (among the games that were mentioned: Tetris, Pac-Man, Driver: Renegade). Though during E3, the creator of Animal Crossing did tease very minimal, very vague information about what the next game would entail. Nintendo showed similar footage at a September 13, 2011 conference. This year's E3 also brought no Animal Crossing news beyond Nintendo Land's "Sweet Day" segment.
Meanwhile, however, Japan has been drinking in that precious info. Let me count the ways. New footage and a confirmation that the game (known by then as Animal Crossing: Jump Out in Japan) was "on track" for a Q4 release in their April 20 Nintendo Direct. Two minutes of new footage at a June 22 press conference (just 11 days after Reggie Fils-Aime told us it was "in development" and two weeks after leaving it off their upcoming 3DS slate).
Japan's August 29 Direct broadcast had a taste of gameplay and new features. Then, on top of that, Japan's October 5 Nintendo Direct was 47 minutes of straight Animal Crossing goodness. Devotion to Animal Crossing can be powerful, to put it lightly, and yet America was quietly told to sit in the other room while the adults discussed Bells and Dr Shrunk.
The dawn finally appeared to break on August 29, when Nintendo of America tweeted that Animal Crossing was coming to 3DS "during the first half of 2013." In yet another Nintendo Direct on October 25, Reggie announced not only a new name for the game — Animal Crossing: New Leaf — but confirmed the vague release window of "early next year" (and presented over five minutes of gameplay). In a Q&A later that day Nintendo President Satoru Iwata also referenced plans to eschew paid DLC for New Leaf. Sure, the release was still several months away, but at least you could see the finish line.
Which brings us to today where, as I mentioned, we got nothing. Zip, nada, zilch. Perhaps this means that the "early next year" no longer stands. Maybe that New Leaf is being pushed beyond even Europe's "Q2 2013". With unit sales already cresting over 1,000,000 in Japan (and 3DS sales seeing an accompanying spike), what exactly is Nintendo of America waiting for? We reached out to Nintendo with this question. Fittingly, there was no answer.