The Animal Crossing games have always been about letting you play the way you want to. Whether you want to amass a small fortune in bells from strategic manipulation of the stalk market (or just plain cheating), to simply sitting around on your ass and teaching your neighbors curse words (creatively spelled to avoid the built-in censors). But what if you choose to cross over some gender boundaries? Don’t worry, now Animal Crossing will let you do that, too!
For the first time in the Animal Crossing series, New Leaf on the 3DS introduced the concept of gender-specific clothing and items. Earlier games only let you change your shirt and accessories, so you could don a wig to go with your fabulous shirt, but you were still wearing shorts or pants. But now The Able Sisters stock shirts, pants, and shorts… alongside skirts and dresses! Plus, the new store, Kicks, stocks a variety of shoes from cleats to sneakers to pumps and fishnet stockings!
Of course, there’s just a little bit of a hiccup every time you decide to cross-dress. If you’re a boy, attempting to purchase a skirt or dress will prompt a stunned Mable to remark: “Oh my, shopping for a present?” If you simply buy it anyway, she’s happy to take your bells, but if you insist on trying it on first, she will then admit “Oh… Well, I guess it’s OK to be a bit more adventurous sometimes.” Darn right, sister!
Sadly, the same is true in the accessories section of the shop, where attempting to buy a hat or accessory tagged for another gender will trigger a different response from Labelle. Although she’s a little more progressive, not questioning your choice as much as supporting it with “This item’s made for women, but you have just the sort of attitude to pull the look off!.” And if you try it on, she cheerfully declares, “Wow, that’s so flashy and so wonderful! Even items made for women look nice on you.” Also, it’s interesting to note which genders are assigned to which items. For instance, a doctor’s mirror is gender neutral, so that’s nice. Girls can be doctors, too!
Meanwhile, over in the shoe store, Kicks couldn’t give less of a crap about gender as he’ll just sell you whatever you want, from black loafers to purple pumps, and offer up some rainbow tights to go with them. This skunk just wants your bells!
You can also get a hairstyle meant for the opposite sex at Shampoodle, but first you have to change your hair a bunch of times (I’ve read 15, but haven’t gotten this option myself, yet, so I can’t confirm the exact number). But while you wait for Harriet to branch out with her styling techniques, you can easily pop on a wig from the Able Sisters that will let you have a matronly bun, pigtails, or whatnot.
While it’s annoying that the Able sisters constantly remark on your progressive sense of style every time you purchase items of clothing meant for the opposite sex, it’s still nice that New Leaf allows you that choice in the first place. Of course, as I said, the Animal Crossing series is all about offering as much choice as possible to the player as he or she plays the game, so it’s not as though the cross-dressing was included to be progressive. It’s just another aspect of the game that the developers left wide open for players to enjoy as they see fit. But I figure it’s best to take inclusivity where you can get it. I just wish that after a certain point, they’d stop remarking on your bold fashion choices… or even better, not remark on it at all!