Spiritfarer Pokes Fun At Animal Crossing’s Jerk Raccoon, Tom Nook

Spiritfarer Pokes Fun At Animal Crossing’s Jerk Raccoon, Tom Nook
Not-Nook Inc. (Screenshot: Thunder Lotus Games / Kotaku)

Spiritfarer and Animal Crossing: New Horizons have a lot of shared DNA. Both feature anthropomorphic animals with distinct personalities. Both give you a space of your own that you can shape to your whims. Both demand a meticulous level of resource management. And both, more surprisingly, star a morally defunct raccoon salesman who worships at the altar of capitalism.

Spiritfarer, which came out earlier this week for PC, Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, is a “cosy management game about dying.” You play as Stella, the titular Spiritfarer, a woman tasked with shepherding the deceased into the afterlife. Unlike Charon, your predecessor, you’re given an ever-growing houseboat for this task. As such, Spiritfarer is a cyclical management sim to the core: You gather resources and use those resources to craft various rooms that beget more resources, all in the name of making your spirit passengers as comfortable as possible in their final moments. It’s all very touching.

Spiritfarer Is A Chill, Touching Take On A Stressful Genre

Spiritfarer, which is described by developer Thunder Lotus Games as a “cosy management game about dying,” came out yesterday for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. I’m only a few hours into this massive, striking game — it’s reportedly 30 to 40 hours long — but those words seem remarkably accurate so far. To play Spiritfarer is to light some candles, make a cup of Chamomile, and curl up under a cashmere throw. It’s more or less Hygge the Game.

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Early on, one such passenger, Gwen the deer, directs you to the island settlement of Hummingberg. There, she says, you’ll be able to purchase the seeds required to grow some plants — including linen, a necessary ingredient for some early constructions — from a shop called Raccoon, Inc., a clear play on Tom Nook’s Nook, Inc, from New Horizons. Raccoon, Inc., is operated by Theodore, a raccoon with shady business principles. Gwen has a warning, though: “I’ve run into this cheeky little raccoon once, and his dishonesty was blatant.” Sound like a certain tanooki to you?

Sure enough, when you arrive in Hummingberg, Raccoon, Inc.’s prices are through the roof. Everything on sale is unattainable. One item is even up for 5,000,000 glims, the game’s currency. (For reference, at that point in Spiritfarer, you’ll have about several hundred glims in your wallet, tops.)

Dear Gwen quickly puts him in his place with a tirade of insults. “You should be ashamed of yourself, trash panda,” she says. “People like you are the reason we have middle fingers.”

After Gwen thoroughly ethers Theodore, he drops the ticket prices to a reasonable level — which, I’ll note, is something Tom Nook would never do in a million years. As Gita Jackson previously noted for Kotaku, Tom Nook “always wants more — specifically more money from you, the player, that he can hoard for himself.” He’s not evil; he’s just mindless, an unabating cog in the capitalist machine we’re all signed up for at birth. Some say it’s nice that he doesn’t charge interest on those staggering loans. But why are his prices so sky-high in the first place?

Therein lies the main difference between Theodore and the world’s worst tanooki. The Spiritfarer salesman is capable of feeling shame and correcting course. Tom Nook is not. Spiritfarer and Animal Crossing might share some DNA. But the daylight between Tom Nook and Theodore shows these animals are distant cousins, not close siblings. Phew!

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“Let me have your attention for a moment. I wanna talk about something important. Put that lily-of-the-valley down. Lilies-of-the-valley are for checkers only. Do you think I’m Flip-ping with you? I am not Flip-ping with you. I’m here from Nook Inc.I’m here from Timmy and Tommy. And I’m here on...

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  • “Some say it’s nice that he doesn’t charge interest on those staggering loans. But why are his prices so sky-high in the first place?”

    Are you kidding me? Sky-high? In New Horizons, Tom Nook builds you a two-storey house with basement for a cost that you can pay off in the space of a few weeks of mild effort, spent doing nothing especially valuable or productive to anyone except yourself or your fellow islanders and possibly whichever mysterious vendor is buying fruit, fish, seashells, even weeds, second-hand clothes/furniture and any other bullshit you offload onto the Nook family for guaranteed compensation, regardless of their usefulness or commercial/resale value.

    I LONG to live in a world where a month’s worth of fishing for an hour or two every day could buy me a god damn mansion with near-endless acres of land I have complete freedom to use as I please.

    Nevermind the fact that the final loan NEVER needs to be paid off and he doesn’t nag you about it let alone charge interest, and if you pay what you owe for services rendered, ie: a motherfucking HOUSE, you’re then given FREE exterior design upgrades. FOR LIFE. Who exactly is compensating Nook Inc for the materials and effort that requires? Nook is clearly digging into his own pockets to thank you at his own expense for having the decency to deign to pay a trifling sum for the a luxury upgraded home.

    That raccoon is one of the most generous characters in modern gaming, and trying to claim him as a capitalist manipulator is in direct contradiction to this claim: “The Spiritfarer salesman is capable of feeling shame and correcting course. Tom Nook is not.”

    Absolutely incorrect. New Horizons shows that no matter how Nook might have behaved in previous entries, his motivations for the island getaway package are nothing but collaborative and more than fair. Gone are all the reminders and nagging about debts, and his rewards for effort go beyond fairness (and rationality) into downright absurdly generous.

    ‘Nook = Greedy’ is old and busted, a lazy meme that needs to die.

    • I too tire of this meme every single time Nook comes up. You’ve worded it a lot better than I ever could (as usual).

      Once Nook was a mafia-eqsue loan shark, but that was 20 years ago.

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