The environment is a gameplay element featured in all installments of the Animal Crossing series. In earlier Animal Crossing games, the Wishing Well or Bell Shrine tells the player how the town is doing, along with pointing out an acre in particular that needs work. In later installments, the town's environmental status can be checked in the Town Hall by talking to either Phyllis or Pelly. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, players check their town status by talking to Isabelle.
Trees impact the towns environment and, unlike other plants, cannot be as easily removed. To plant a tree, one must first dig a hole using a shovel. The tree will be fully grown after 4 days, and it requires no care. Some trees can grow only in certain parts of a town. Cedar trees can be grown only in the top two acres of town; oak trees (and trees that bear fruit) can be grown in most grass or dirt areas, but not sand or cobble, and not on ramps; palm trees can grow only along the beach.
The town's environment rating can decrease if there are not enough or too many trees in one or more acres. In Animal Crossing, the correct number of trees is very important in attaining a perfect town, while the Wishing Well will tell the player which acres need work.
Flowers are one way to greatly improve the town's environmental status. However, in Animal Crossing, flowers do not affect it. Placing at least one flower in each acre improves the town's environment immensely. The town cannot have too many flowers, and a very high a amount of them will cancel out other flaws in the environment, such as weeds. If Pelly or Phyllis tells the player that the town needs 'more green', the problem may be a lack of flowers (or trees) in the town area. Any type of flower can be grown anywhere, but the player can keep it evenly distributed for a better environmental status. Players may have to water these flowers as soon as the flowers are wilting unless it is raining.
Sticking flowers of the same species together (such as tulips with tulips and roses with roses) can create a hybrid species of flower.
A small number of weeds (two or three in most games) show up per day. To get a perfect town, players should pluck all weeds they see, and not let the number of weeds in any acre increase to more than two.
Furniture, accessories, and other droppable items all fall as dropped items, and therefore, should not be left on the ground if the player wants a good environmental status for the town. Seashells on the beach, and fruit, are not counted as dropped items.
Boots, cans, and tires fished out from the river or ocean, as well as spoiled turnips, must never be placed on the ground, or the environmental status for the town will instantly decrease. These items also attract the fly, an inexpensive bug.
When talking with Pelly or Phyllis about the town's environmental status, the designated pelican will relay "messages" that other villagers have given her. Her response will inform the player if the town is prospering or not in Animal Crossing: Wild World or in Animal Crossing: City Folk. Here are the responses that either Phyllis or Pelly will tell the player:
- Horrible - "This place is the pits! Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong! There's not a single thing I like in this town!"
- Bad - I'm not sure what good it will do to write this, but... Could you try and be a bit more thoughtful about your town? Because at this rate..."
- Neutral - "Hmm... it's not a passing grade, but it's not a failing grade either. It's like more than milk, but not quite a milk shake, you know what I mean?"
- Good - "This town is fantastic! But even so, it still seems to be missing something"
- Perfect - "Fantastic! [Town Name] is in great shape right now! Yep, it's pretty sweeeeet!"
After Pelly or Phyllis relays the message, she will give a player a hint that can help into making the town healthier. For example, at the "getting there" phase, Pelly may tell the player that some areas have inadequate green, which is a tip to plant more flowers and trees in areas lacking them. Phyllis's messages tend to be a little more straight-forward about what the player needs to do.
Generally, for the best environmental status in Animal Crossing: Wild World and Animal Crossing: City Folk, eight of the acres should be classed as 'perfect' and the rest as 'good'. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a points system is used instead (divided into three hidden categories), and the requirement for a specific number of trees/flowers in each acre no longer applies. Public works projects are necessary for a positive rating.
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