Leedzie’s Loopholes: ACNL Groundhog’s Day Trick

Hey guys, welcome to my new semi-regular gaming segment! Leedzie’s Loopholes is a category of posts in which I explain how to break a game in some way or another without the use of cheat devices. This has come about because I have a long history of doing exactly that, and, er, I just did it again the other day.

For this first entry, we’re going to examine a game that’s been devouring my life for the last couple of months, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and how the Bug Off contest drove me to the brink of my sanity.

One of the things that drives players to play Animal Crossing games obsessively is the fact that items aren’t available all the time. It’s annoying enough when a common item gets missed, but it’s even crappier when we miss out on exclusive items — that is, items that can’t be bought from any of the in-game stores. Entire categories of furniture, clothing, and other rarities are only available from specific characters at specific times, and if you don’t manage to get your hands on them, you’re out of luck. In some cases, you might have to wait a few weeks; in others, the wait could be an entire year.

For example, when Festivale rolls around, you only have one day to collect 13 items.

In my case, the frustration centered around the Bug Off competition, which happens on the third Saturday of each summer month. The rules of the Bug Off are simple: Catch a bug, bring it to Nat, and Nat will give you a score based on the bug’s rarity, size, and beauty. If you break the high score and are above 80 points, he’ll give you exclusive bug-themed furniture. Nat is the only source of these items, and if the player misses or loses them, they can’t be ordered from the item catalogue. With this in mind, the logical thing to do is catch rare bugs in advance, then give them to Nat in ascending order of value.

However, this isn’t quite as easy as it sounds; while it’s easy to discern an insect’s rarity group (as Nat will react with a different sentence based on the commonality of the bug), the size and beauty are not evident to the player. Although the game will display the insect’s exact measurements at the time that it’s caught, this information is never displayed again. It’s up to the player to remember and keep track of which bugs are which size — which can be especially difficult when one catches multiples of the same bug. Furthermore, the beauty rating is chosen by the system at random, so there’s no way at all to anticipate that. In the end, no matter how carefully you try to prepare, you can’t guarantee that your bugs will receive progressively higher scores, making it easy to accidentally hand in a high-scoring insect early on and have all subsequent bugs fall beneath it.

In my case, the problem began with an oak silk moth.

This little bastard ruined my life last weekend.

This is a bug that (to me, anyway) is semi-common; I spot at least one every night, and it gets me a decent amount of money when I sell it to Reece at the thrift shop. I figured that catching one would be useful because it could be one of the medium-rare bugs to serve as a stepping stone toward more prizes. However, when I turned it in, I didn’t yet realize that Nat gave different reactions for different rarities, and I let him have it too early. This stupid moth was both abnormally large and especially pretty, and scored me 115 points right off the bat.

Of course, the most logical course of action would be to shut the game off without saving (especially since Resetti won’t bother you in this edition) in order to reset the contest; that was my plan, but for reasons that I can’t recall even now, I did save it due to some unrelated event. Once I realized what I’d done, I cursed the patron saint of moths and realized I’d blown my shot at getting several pieces of furniture at once. There’s only one more month in which the Bug Off will even take place, and I was still missing 8 pieces of furniture. In a fit of frustration, I exited the game and set my 3DS clock backward a day.

Now, under normal circumstances, I never would’ve done this; although I do adjust the 3DS clock before every play session (mostly because real life just doesn’t allow me to play the game in real time), I always adjust the timeline to move forward; I never go backwards. I’ve been screwed on previous Animal Crossing games for messing with the timeline, and had no interest in messing up New Leaf. However, I’ve heard that this installment is far more forgiving of time travel than its predecessors, and to be honest, I was too pissed off to care. I reverted back to Friday, cooled off, then forwarded again to Saturday.

I expected my Bug Off score to still be there when I returned, since I had a recorded save on the same date and time; however, to my surprise, the contest had reset itself. I still had the item I’d won, but there was no record of my 115 points in the Bug Off scoring. I was free to start submitting bugs again! It quickly occurred to me that this Groundhog’s Day effect could potentially be used to not only get all of the furniture for the Bug Off, but perhaps could be applied to other holidays and special events, such as the Fishing Tourney or the fireworks shows (as Isabelle gives the player a new headband each week).

“I still need a cicada stereo and a spiderweb clock!”

I can’t say for sure how many events this will and won’t work on, since I’m not the type of player that does large time jumps, but that leaves the field open for all of us to experiment. Will the Groundhog’s Day Trick work on Halloween? On “Toy Day”? Or even on Groundhog’s Day itself? We won’t know until we try!