At this point, the sea bass joke in Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become a meme. Folks hate it. But the man who wrote that joke shared some interesting insight behind it and how much they and the other devs working on the game care about even the smallest details.
The sea bass joke quickly became something players grew tired of within days of Animal Crossing’s release. While players are trying to catch some new, rare, and exotic fish, they instead catch another sea bass and have to hear that same joke again. Probably for the 100th time or more. It quickly became annoying.
The man behind that joke, Nintendo Localization producer Rob Heiret, shared on Twitter a long thread going into detail about the writing process behind that joke. For starters though, yes, he too is tired of it. But when he originally wrote the joke it was slightly different.
The first draft went like this: “I caught a sea bass! Well…maybe a C- bass…”
But he and the others working on translating the game realized that this would be a joke players would see many, many, MANY times. And it would probably be a negative moment for the player, so hitting them over the head with a negative grade seemed too mean and not very cute or nice. So the joke was altered slightly and instead of C- it would now read C+.
A small detail, sure, but an important one. It is also the kind of thing Heiret and others working on the game thought about a lot, according to his Twitter thread.
“We were doing our very best, down to details you might not have considered, to make this the most positive, comforting, funny game we could,” explained Heiret. And it seems to have paid off, as people around the world have flocked to Animal Crossing to throw birthday parties, announce events, have team meetings, play games together, or even host talk shows.
As the pandemic has continued to grow and folks remain stuck indoors, often alone and with little to do to, Animal Crossing has been an escape to a better, nicer and cuter world. And that world exists because of all the work that Heiret and others working on the game put into every little detail. Even the dumb and annoying dad jokes.
And Heiret has been blown away by how many people are living in the game these days, escaping the real world. He believes that this is because, in the current state of the world, people need agency. A place where players can arrange the pillows on their bed just how they like them.
“That feels like the single most important part of the game’s popularity to me.”