Home Editorial Friday Feature – Win Conditioning: Animal Crossing

He just kinda stares into your soul

This is what showed up when I searched for "Cannot Win." It's so awesome that I decided to use it anyway

The following is the first in a series ofweekly articles written by SergeT3 for TopTierTactics.com. Serge approached me with the interesting idea of tackling strategies for a different game genre. The result? Hilarity. Please be extra mean to him in the comments. -WiNG

Now, we all know why you’re here reading this blog right now. You want the Tactics and Strategies to win EVERY GAME FOREVER. And there’s nothing wrong with that. As humans, we all want to win all the time, and it’s perfectly natural.

Now, let’s look at some of the games featured on this blog thus far: Team Fortress 2, Starcraft 2, and Super Street Fighter IV are the best examples. Now, what is it that they have in common at their most basic level, other than being sequels?

Simple: They each have a clear and concise win condition when you play them. Take out your opponent before they have a chance to do the same to you. It’s a simple concept, and with the right strategies and a good amount of skill and time, it is something you can master.

But what if you were playing a game that had no win condition, and therefore you couldn’t win? Well, obviously, you don’t need to learn any tactics because you’re not going to win anyway, amirite?


There are many games out there which you can’t “win.” I happen to play a bunch of these games, and enjoy them on a frequent basis. You could enjoy them too. Despite what WiNG would want you to believe,* you CAN have fun playing a game without winning. How? By employing the perfect tactics, of course.

I’ll start you off easy, with a game that’s well-known and has the closest thing to a win condition. This game is Animal Crossing, for the Gamecube, Nintendo DS or Wii. Now, you’re asking “Serge, isn’t this game for p*&$^!s babies?” WELL YOU’RE WRONG. There’s nothing bad about playing a little Animal Crossing from time to time, even if just to see how much your absence has tortured the citizens of your town. Now, a lot of the games I’ll be talking about in these articles have experiences which are heavily based on the user. More or less, depending on how much you put into the game, that’s how much you’ll get out of it. This is true even of Animal Crossing, a game with a very simply concept: You moved to a new town. Live.

Now, like I said before, this game is a sort of weird middle-ground between a game with or without a win condition. Why? Because a little while into the game, you’re given a goal to complete: Pay off your MASSIVE debt to Tom Nook. Oh, it doesn’t look massive at first. But then he upgrades your house, which he doesn’t do for free. He does this more than once, each addition more expensive than the last. Oh yeah, you’ll be in debt for awhile. Learn early, kiddies. You’ll always be in debt up to your eyeballs in exchange for your freedom.

However, that’s just about the only goal you’re explicitly given throughout the whole game. You can spend the rest of the game doing as you please: doing errands for other townies, collecting items, furnishing your home, finding fossils, etc. So, where do the tactics come in?

Well, because we want to win every game forever, and most things that make you stand out in this game require money, the tactics we will discuss are mainly the best ways of getting money, or bells as they are called in Animal Crossing. So, in order to get money quickly to pay off your debt and buy some sweet items for your pad, the first thing you can do without much effort and without the need for items is to shake all the trees in town. Sometimes, money will fall from the trees, I s$*t you not. You won’t get a lot of money, but since it doesn’t require any items or additional money, it’s a good starting point. After milking this strategy for all it’s worth, you should start helping out your townsfolk as much as possible. They won’t always give you money, but sometimes they will! More importantly, however, they’ll sometimes give you furniture which you can sell for cash. When you get enough money, buy a shovel, fishing rod, and bug catching net. With these items in your inventory, you can run around town looking for alternate things that can net you some bells, which I will now detail.

Tom Nook

Look at this creature. This is the face of your nightmares. His greed knows NO bounds.

Occasionally you will see splits and cracks in the ground. If you dig these up, you’ll find items or fossils. Fossils usually sell pretty high, once you get them appraised. If you’re walking by a body of water, you’ll sometimes see the shadow of a fish just swimming along. Use your fishing rod, and snatch up those dudes. The bigger the shadow, the more likely that fish will sell for tons of cash. Bugs are harder to spot, usually appearing on trees or flying around and being tiny and hard to see. If you manage to catch some though, they sell near the prices of fish. Now, fossils, fish and bugs can also be given over to the museum to be put on display and increase your collection rate of these items. But, if these aren’t your express goals, just sell them. Duplicates WILL appear. Keeping that in mind though, you can also give new things you find to the museum first, then sell the duplicates you find later. It all depends on how you want to play the game.

If you have friends who also play the game, in your town or in another town, you get the chance to use more tactics, as well as have some competition in things that shouldn’t really be competitive, but let’s be honest. You can race these players to see who can pay off their debt in the least amount of time, see who can collect the most, etc. If they play in another town and you visit them, STEAL THEIR FRUIT. This is an extremely important money making tactic. The most stable and efficient way of making money is farming foreign fruit in your town, something that is really hard to do effectively without visiting another player’s game. You only need a couple fruit from the other player in order to start your farm, because when those trees mature they produce three pieces of fruit per tree, like your own natural fruit. But they sell for a LOT more bells.

Now, these are all clear-cut and stable ways of getting money. There are also risks you can take if you want to play dangerously with your bells. Every Sunday morning, you can buy turnips from the wandering turnip merchant. Now, turnips essentially function as Animal Crossing’s stock market. You buy them for the price they are on Sunday, then the price you can sell them to Tom Nook for fluctuates over the course of the week. Normally, you’d think “I’ll just stock up every Sunday then sell them when I see the highest price of the month!” Well, there’s a catch. Turnips go bad and rot after a week. This means that, come next Sunday, your money will be wasted if you haven’t sold off those turnips. You have to be very careful when handling those turnips. Another risky move for your funds becomes available when you acquire a golden shovel. Using this item, you can plant money into the ground. This will raise a money tree. However, you will not always get more money than you planted, or the tree will not grow at all.

So, competitive power gamers can indeed play Animal Crossing with the same intensity that they play other games which were MADE for competition. Their interest will probably wane sooner rather than later without other people playing with them and creating more competition. But, it is possible. And really, this is only the tip of the iceberg for Animal Crossing. There are people who make Treasure Hunts and mazes, and also set up thinks like races in the DS version. It’s people like this who extrapolate a whole lot more from this game than the boring casual folk. And as far as games without a win condition, Animal Crossing is just the beginning. Next time, we’ll see what happens when the developer of the game intended for the player to find the best strategies as soon as possible…or “have fun” trying.

Next time, we STRIKE THE EARTH!

*Editor’s notes: Thanks, Serge. It’s always fun to be branded as the controlling, paternalistic type. Just for that I deleted 5 random words from your article. HAVE FUN!  =P

5 replies to this post
  1. >Strike the earth

    Ohohohoho… I am looking forward to the next blog post.
    I’ll be right back, notifying fellow earth strikers.

  2. Animal Crossing… oh boy this brings back nightmares.

    My brother bought the game for the ds and got me to play it a bit… I was like “Hey this is kinda fun =D” and played it for a while. But since I have my life to work out I had to let it go…. when I picked it up the next day, I was surprised as the townsfolk were talking about me missing for a day.

    My mind was agitated:

    “So… I have to be here…. everyday?”

    I didn’t think it was such a big deal back then… oh boy I was wrong.

    When everyone started to leave cause I couldn’t be on much… I was resorted to beg one of my animal friends not to go… he was my best bud, and i didn’t want to see him leave…. plus I was gentting antsu by the guy that popped up once in a while to draw on his face… ok it was funny at start but seriously started to freak me out.

    Finally he said yes, with relief I closed the DS… and went quietly to sleep.

    Only to the next day… everyone said tat he had left… THAT LEING EAGLE!!! YOU BROKE OUR FRIENDSHIP AND MY HEART!!!

    And never again did I trust another digital wild animal…. ESPECIALLY RACOONS!! GODDAMIT YOU THIEVING BASTARD! ;_;


    So yeah jokes aside, it’s a fun game but requires lots of time for it.. having fun paying off debts is a nice metagame but it might get boring after a while.

    Nice piece SergeT3, hoping to see more next time with the Earth Strikers =D


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