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Nintendo says Animal Crossing fans have got Tom Nook all wrong

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He’s a good guy, really

artwork of Tom Nook in Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo/YouTube

A new Animal Crossing game can only mean one thing: Tom Nook discourse. Following the reveal of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, many on social media started grousing once more about Tom Nook, how he’s a crook, the epitome of capitalism, and basically just The Worst Ever. But if you ask Nintendo, you’ve got the raccoon all wrong.

In an interview with IGN, New Horizons director Aya Kyogoku told fans that Tom Nook actually uses all the money he collects from player debt to give back to the community — meaning, he’s not really a bad guy at all.

“Tom Nook, this time around, he has this place called Resident Services. He tirelessly works 24 hours making sure that all the residents on the island are happy and are living a good life,” Kyogoku says. “Whenever Tom receives those debts paid back from the residents and the players, I think that because these resident services upgrade as time goes on, I think he’s investing that money toward the Resident Service for the residents.”

Curiously, everyone who moves onto the island with you at the start of the game is also indebted to Tom Nook, so in a way, everyone is pitching in to the community. Maybe it’s best to think of your debt as taxes?

Really, though, it’s also worth remembering that Tom Nook gives you a large loan regardless of your credit score, and he never pesters you about paying it back. You can pay it back at your own leisure — or not at all, really. In New Leaf, after getting a medium-sized house, I kind of stopped caring about my debt and instead put my time and effort into other things, like fishing and decorating. And even if I did focus on the money, it’s hard to complain. The land I'm moving into belongs to the animals. I can’t just walk in there and pretend like it’s mine! People are making a huge fuss about nothing, really.

It also sounds like Tom Nook might play a bigger role in your day-to-day life on the island, given that there’s now a new currency called Nook Miles. Complete special tasks, and you’ll get points that you can exchange for special prizes. All of this to say: You’d better make nice with Tom Nook, because he’s going to be in your life either way.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons will see the return of fan-favorite Isabelle, and will also allow players to customize their skin tone, as well as have gender-neutral hairstyles. It will be out for Nintendo Switch in 2020.