I really love Animal Crossing. Ever since the original on Gamecube, I've spent hundreds of hours delivering carpet, digging up fossils, and talking to neurotic penguins. Its leisurely pace is a far cry from the action games that I've traditionally gravitated towards, but I've never been able to escape the franchise's charm. When Animal Crossing: New Leaf came out last year, I reviewed it and then spent 91 hours and 35 minutes with the game (according to my 3DS activity log).

Checking in on the inhabitants of Mudlick was a regular routine for me. I'd chat them up, search for the daily magic rock, hunt bugs, and generally hang out in my quaint little town on a daily basis. At some point, the inevitable occurred as it does with every Animal Crossing game. I don't know anyone that's kept up with their Animal Crossing town nonstop, and my time with New Leaf eventually ended as I looked to new consoles and holiday titles.

Even without me, I knew that Mudlick kept moving on in the past eight months. In this relatively dry time for game releases, I figured it would be a good time to make a return visit to the town. My memory is absolutely terrible, so I booted up my 3DS expecting it to be like returning to a past life that I have no conscious memory of.

My first thought upon loading my save was "Oh god, what the hell was the name of that dog assistant of mine?" That was quickly replaced with "Wow, I really went all-in with this Nintendo crap in my house."

The dog assistant (who seemed unfazed at my unexplained months-long disappearance) informed me that it was Nature Day in Mudlick, presumably because it was Earth Day or something in the real world. For those unfamiliar with Animal Crossing's Nature Day, it basically means that there's a dumb thing in your town square that you can put your face in.

Oh wait, that's not the only thing that happens on Nature Day. I opened my mailbox up, and Nintendo sent me a bunch of leaves. Thanks, guys.

Also in my mail was a letter from Lopez, a former neighbor who informed me that he had left Mudlick but that his heart would always be by my side. I don't really remember him. I think he might have been a deer that liked to dance.

One of the expected consequences of my absence was the introduction of cockroaches to my house. Every room. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there was one in my room where I keep all my toilets.

Cool little cockroach ghosts fly away when you step on one of them. Also, was I starting some kind of "Hank from Breaking Bad" crystal collection that I have no memory of?

My house was right on the beach, so I took a stroll down to the seaside. Apparently I had left some rotten turnips and an old tire by the docks at some point. Happy Nature Day!