The Two Modes of Animal Crossing

Chapter 4
What Andrea would look like in Tier 3 of Traditional Mode.

In the past few games, Animal Crossing has evolved significantly. More items are being introduced, houses are more customizable, and landmarks have more features. What’s even more free is that you are now the mayor, and you can decorate your town anyway you like. Plus, there’s the Dream Suite. Towns are much more different than ever before. My Idea Book is making towns even more customizable to the point where you can have an unlimited utopia. But here’s what’s being faded away. The good old traditional mode for Animal Crossing. Some people don’t like the extra customization options we like. Maybe we should have two modes in the next game. It starts out with Sandbox Mode, but once you unlock the ability to save maps (not from Map Editor, but more likely completed towns with PWPs). Over there, you will be able to play in Traditional Mode using the maps you previously created.

Starting Chapter 5 and beyond, nearly every chapter has a section on Traditional Mode and how the features differ between both modes.

Sandbox Mode

Sandbox Mode is the gameplay you’re familiar with in ACNL. It’s where you can design your town in any way you like. This includes PWP placement, house placement, villager zoning, path layouts, ordinances, holiday checklist, custom holidays, and public attractions owned by the other characters. When you play in this mode, there are no limits. You are free to design your town in any way you like.

Features that are exclusive to Sandbox Mode:

  • Becoming a mayor
  • Public Works Project placement
  • Public Works Project donations
  • Mini-project placement
  • Town Ordinances
  • Custom Hours for stores
  • Choosing where you live
  • Choosing where villagers live
  • Path placement (not using path patterns)
  • Holiday checklist
  • Special visitor checklist
  • Custom holidays
  • Shop management
  • Restaurant management
  • Hotel management
  • Dream Suite features
  • All items (except prizes) are re-orderable from the catalog
  • Music Maker

More information on all of these will be covered later in the Idea Book.

Traditional Mode

Traditional Mode is where you can play Animal Crossing as if you could never design your town in any way you like. Whatever PWPs are in town are the only PWPs in town. Whatever paths are laid out are the paths in town. Wherever the villager houses and player houses are, they will always be there. Before New Leaf, this was what Animal Crossing is like. If you feel that being a mayor is too much responsibility, this is the way to play. You’ll still have a nice town, but you won’t be able to decorate it like you can in Sandbox Mode.

Other things that are in Traditional Mode:

  • Mini-projects (like streetlights and outdoor benches) are in a fixed position from the last map you saved.
  • All hours of businesses are default hours.
    There is no restaurant, hotel, or extra shops.
  • The luck system is the same as the Lucky Town ordinance’s is.
  • Public landmarks are decorated for the holidays like they are in the Event Town ordinance.
  • The Dream Suite is absent.
  • There are no ways to making it impossible for any villager to move.
  • Certain items cannot be re-ordered from the catalog.
  • Your house will not start out with a tent, thus no down payments needed.

In addition, the mayor of your town in Traditional Mode is your mayor from Sandbox Mode, but will only appear as an NPC. So let’s say that my first character created in Sandbox Mode is Kaylee (who appears to be the mayor). I save my sandbox town to Traditional Mode. In my town in Traditional Mode, no matter what character I make first, Kaylee will always be the mayor. The outfit she wears in any tier of Traditional Mode is the outfit she was wearing when I saved my town. At the same time, Kaylee will replace Isabelle during the town events in Traditional Mode. Isabelle still appears in Town Hall no matter what time of the year it is. Your mayor will have the same roles in Traditional Mode that Kaylee had in this example.

You can have only one town per cartridge, but you can create extra data to the SD card or flash drive (or whatever extra component you have) and have a second town being able to load from the cartridge.

Unlocking Traditional Mode

After you get your permit, you are ready to work on your town. However, to unlock the mode with less features, you’ll have a long way to get there.

The first requirement is to have built 10 of the 16 major Public Works Projects in your town. The six that you do not need are the Dream Suite, Town Hall Renovation, Train Station Renovation, Custom Shop, Restaurant, and Hotel. You must place them wisely as well.

The second requirement is to build 10 minor PWPs (such as carousels, playground elements, lighthouses, and gazebos). They don’t show up on the map, but they do appear as attractions. You do want to make your town interesting if you play Traditional Mode, even on Tier 3 where you’re back to Wild World’s gameplay. You would also want to place them wisely, but then again, you can demolish them just to rebuild them. At the same time, it would be recommended that you do place enough lamps, benches, outdoor clocks, and even a fountain. They aren’t required, but they would make your town more interesting, and you cannot place them in Traditional Mode.

Another requirement is that you must have 24 animal zones. You can have 16 villagers max, not including human villagers, but only 24 spots in town can have animals. In Traditional Mode, the villager plots are back to sign posts.

In addition to the villager plots, you must have all four human characters living in town. You don’t have to take care of them, but you do at least need to pay their down payments. Traditional Mode involves picking one of the houses that are already settled, and there should be enough houses for four players.

The last requirement is to lay out paths. They don’t have to be path patterns. There’s a mayoral feature you can learn from Chapter 13. You should be able to connect all landmarks to the path systems. You don’t have to do so for minor projects, but you do want to for major projects.

Don’t worry about unlocking the stores on Main Street, Store Renovations, Museum progress, or Perfect Town status. Those can be done in Traditional Mode too.

When all requirements are fulfilled, you can talk to Isabelle about saving your map for Traditional Mode. This will create extra data and another town. Your current town won’t be deleted, but you can have only one Traditional Mode town.

Tiers of Traditional Mode

When you create a Traditional Mode town, you can only choose between one of the three tiers of it. Once you create your Traditional Mode town, you cannot create another until you delete your Traditional Mode town.

The three tiers of Traditional Mode determine what features do you want for your town. The higher the tier, the more likely you can experience what Animal Crossing was once like. The lower the tier, the more features you can have.

Tier One:

Tier One in Traditional Mode means that you would like the same features as Sandbox Mode, but whatever I listed about Traditional Mode that is different to Sandbox Mode still applies. Basically, it’s like Animal Crossing: New Leaf with the new features as mentioned in the Idea Book, but without the mayoral features.

What you can still do in this tier:

  • Additional clothes like coats, scarves, book bags, and backpacks can be worn.
  • Houses can have the same 11 rooms and plot.
  • Interior Design feature is the same as Happy Home Designer’s.
  • Catalogs have the same organization as in Sandbox Mode.
  • Every clothing option that had a pro pattern option in Sandbox Mode applies.

Tier Two:

Tier Two in Traditional Mode wipes out the extra customization options along with the Sandbox Mode features. Basically, you’re down to New Leaf, but without the mayoral features. Some of the features of Tier Two in Traditional Mode is the same as Tier Three, but the others are the same as Tier One.

Features that apply in Tiers Two and Three:

  • Houses have the same orientation as in New Leaf (six rooms with no customizable plot).
  • Interior Design feature is the same as New Leaf’s.
  • There are no ceiling furniture.
  • Furniture, house plants, commercial furniture, outdoor furniture, food, sports, instruments, toys, and decorative items will merge into the furniture category in the catalog.
  • Rugs do not exist. Carpets that included rugs in previous games will include rugs.
  • Pro Designs are limited to shirts, dresses, and hats.

What you can still do in this tier:

  • Characters can change tops, bottoms, dresses, and footwear.
  • Wall items can be hung.
  • Furniture can be refurbished.
  • House exterior options are available.
  • Ghosts can appear in town.
  • Achievement system applies to the game.
  • Island Tours are available.

Tier Three:

This is the least amount of features that you can be given through Traditional Mode. This is the true Traditional Mode! The gameplay takes you all the way back to Wild World’s, but the towns are not as empty as Wild World’s since the maps you saved came out of Sandbox mode. Some of the features like hair style and color changing still apply since that was in Wild World, as humans and animals keep the same character design like New Leaf. But all you can change are their shirts, hats, and facewear.

What can you no longer do:

  • Characters can only change their tops, hats, face items, and hair. They wear the same socks, shoes, and bottoms the whole time.
  • All furniture are floor items or tabletop items.
  • Houses can only be customized by repainting your roof.
  • Holiday items are no longer sold in the Nookling Stores.
  • Ghosts do not appear.
  • There is no achievement system. All items earned from it are obtained differently.
  • Furniture cannot be refurbished. Cyrus will always sleep.
  • There are no more Island Tours. All Island items will cost Bells.

What you can still do in this tier:

  • All core features introduced in the GameCube Version still apply.
  • You can change your eye color and hair style
  • You can save and quit in the middle of town.
  • You can get animals to move in town from the campsite.
  • You can grow flowers through watering.
  • All golden tools and silver tools are present.
  • Resetti will give you the option to answer why you reset (including stuff like “my batteries died” or “a power outage”) when he pops out.
  • Animals can still visit your house.
  • You can still visit the island.
  • You can still design pro designs.

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