Welcome back to Great Arseholes of Gaming, our regular sideways glance at the videogame characters you'd rather not make full eye contact with. Today, a police transcript delivered to me anonymously reveals corruption and organised crime in the otherwise idyllic surroundings of Animal Crossing, the cute and fluffy town sim from Nintendo.
[RECORDING BEGINS, DOOR CLOSES]
SB: OK, this is the interview with [REDACTED], interview begins at 1517. Detectives Sonny Bonds and Cole Phelps in attendance. You want a coffee before we start?
SB: Alright, [REDACTED], tell us in your own words how you first came to reside in the village of Pimpton.
X: I was living in Nottingham, this would have been around 2002, I think. I sees an advert for something called 'Animal Crossing'. Sez that you could get a house in this little village, meet new people, hang around and explore, that kind of thing. I was a little bored, so I went for it. A change is as good as a rest, you know?
CP: NO! I DON'T KNOW! YOU'RE LYING!
SB: Easy, Phelps.
SB: Please, continue.
X: So I'm start up, and I'm on the train. This cat comes up to me, sez am I movin' out to Pimpton? I sez yeah, she sez you got anywhere to live? I sez no, and she sez she's got a pal, name of Nook, runs the store in Pimpton, he's got a few empty houses there. She calls him on the phone, sets up a meet. When I'm sayin' all this now it seems so goddamned obvious it's a scam. But I was just a kid! Seventeen years old, wet behind the ears, only ever played first-person shooters and beat-em-ups before... How was I to know?
SB: And so Tom Nook met you at the train station?
X: Yeah. Little raccoon looking guy, furry nose. And he's wearin' an apron and nothin' else. Middle of town, middle of the day, and he's half-naked, and he knows it, and he don't care. I should have known right there was something fishy about this guy.
SB: How was that first meeting with Tom Nook?
X: Oh, it was great. Too great. He's laughing, he's friendly, he's generous. Says I can have the house no problem. Takes me to see it. And it looks beautiful from the outside, real Norman fuckin' Rockwell, know what I mean? Then he stings me. Sez the place is gonna cost me 19900 bells, and I only got 1000.
SB: The local currency.
X: So he sez "Tell you what. You can come work in my store and pay off the debt." I'm broke, and I need a roof over my head, so I agree to it. He gives me the keys to the house and tells me to meet him at his store. And I get inside the house, and its like a fuckin' prison cell. Dingy, stone walls, all that shit. So now I'm basically in Nook's pocket.
SB: What was the nature of your work for Nook?
X: First time I get there he gets me to plant some flowers and shit. That's fine, but then he tells me he's going to 'hold' my wages to make up the debt! No walkin' around money, no percentages, nothing. Then he tells me to go meet everyone in town. So I go around, and that's when it starts to fall into place. Nook OWNS this goddamned town. Owns everything and everyone in it. All of them, gibberin' on about how great he is, how generous he is. All of them with this scared look in their eye like they don't dare cross him. I meet the mayor...
SB: That would be Mayor Tortimer, the tortoise?
X: Yeah, that's him, corrupt old bastard. He's in Nook's pocket too! That raccoon bastard sent me on a tour of the town so's I could see that it was all his, so's I'd understand I was his too. Freaked me out. But now I'm in deep with him too... What was I supposed to do?
CP: What did you do?
X: What could I do? I kept my mouth shut. I worked. I watched Nook growin' fat offa my labours. I'm workin', and livin' in a dank dive, and he's keepin' my wages and livin' large. He even gives his store a makeover! Can you believe that? The lowlife! Spendin' money that was rightfully mine on a new goddamned storefront for his lair!
SB: Did he ever threaten you?
X: Well, not...[PAUSE] One time... One time it got too much, out busting my ads in the woods, pickin' flowers... I was so mad, I just turned off the console, didn't save like Nook always told me to. When I turned it back on... there was this mole...
X: He said his name was Mr Resetti. It was obvious Nook had sent him. He... he scared me. He threatened me, told me I HAD to save, if I knew what was good for me... Jesus, I'm gettin' antsy just thinkin' about him.
CP: I gotta be honest with you, [REDACTED], I'm not sure any of this would be enough for a conviction...
X: No, now hold on, it gets crazier. I'm back in Nottingham, and I see a friend of mine. He's got 'Animal Crossing' too, says I should come visit his town, Woodtown, sometime. So I takes my memory card to him and I pays his town a visit. And he tells me that when he was first on the train, some cat had come up to him and put him in touch with Nook too!
SB: The same cat you met on the train to Pimpton?
X: The same goddamned cat! Same "hey, here's a house, now you're in debt" deal! So I gets to his town, and it looks the same as mine, different villagers but similar. And there, in the middle of town, is TOM FUCKIN' NOOK HIMSELF. Another town, another big-ass store. Don't you see? He's runnin' a slave trade! Pickin' up kids offa trains who don't know no better and workin' em half to death to line his own pockets! He's runnin' this scam EVERYWHERE! He's a monster! He's worse than Al Capone!
CP: Why didn't you go to the police in Pimpton? Isn't there a police station there? Run by...one Officer Copper?
X: Ain't you been listenin' to a word I've said? NOOK OWNS PIMPTON. Copper is just as much into Nook as every other poor schmuck in that town. No way am I goin' to him! My life wouldn't be worth two bells! You guys gotta help me!
SB: I need to speak to my partner for a moment, [REDACTED]. Let's take a short break. Interview suspended at 1543.
[DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES]
[SILENCE - 3 MINUTES]
[DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES]
X: Hey... Hey, wheres the guys I was speakin' to before?
?: They're indisposed. I'm here to talk to you about your debt. Mr Nook does not look kindly on those who reject his generosity. Now let's just...
[END OF RECORDING]
Top image by pickassoreborn