Maybe you’ve rolled your eyes at the modern interpretation of Tom Nook, Animal Crossing’s capitalist overlord. You know, the one where people try to say that it’s totally OK that he’s saddling you with crushing debt and perpetual house upgrades you don’t want, all while hand-waving away the fact that he wields a predatory control over the economy in your little slice of paradise. But you know what? After playing the new Disney take on the Animal Crossing life-sim genre, I’m inclined to agree with those forgiving types. Maybe Tom Nook isn’t so bad at all. Not when compared to Scrooge McDuck.
Though they share DNA in terms of mechanics, Disney Dreamlight Valley is set up much differently than Animal Crossing. For one, Scrooge doesn’t start off asa the big dog in town even though he has oodles of cash and could probably buy the entire place outright. For whatever reason, he needs you, the player, to help him re-open his dilapidated store. Nook sends you on errands too, of course, but Scrooge is an absolute shit about it from the get-go.
For one thing, this duck is talking to you about the value of investments at a time when the entire town is overrun by dark magic that is making people disappear and everyone else is slowly forgetting everything about themselves. Tell me, good sir, who is going to be spending coin in your store when Mickey Mouse can’t remember what his wife looks like anymore? What value does money have in the post-apocalypse, aside from being a cold, metallic substance to swim in? Why are you having me make your store more attractive when you clearly have the capital to have hired hands do it, or could even used the money to help any of your neighbors from impending doom? What the fuck. I see the giant vault hiding in the back, Scrooge!
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But fine, sure. We’re here to rebuild and eventually, all the menacing thorns and spooky mists that are destroying everything will disappear so that we may once again worry ourselves with giving all our money to the rich. But then this asshole wants me to help him advertise the store, to a clientele that, again, is slowly losing their minds. To accomplish this, Scrooge demands that I put on A SHIRT OF HIS OWN FACE SO THAT THE OTHER VILLAGERS CAN SEE IT because remember, yes, the economy must never stop, even if 99% of my friends and family have possibly died.
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While wearing this shirt, he asks me to go out there and put out signs pointing to his store, which I imagine is less to do with advertising per se than acknowledging that everyone is suffering from intense dementia so maybe they need the signposting. After all, at this point in the game, there are only, like, three functional buildings in the entire town. It’s hard to miss a giant department store having its lights on when everything is cast is eternal darkness. But, being my own brand of asshole, I simply placed every sign that Scrooge gave me right outside his store rather than anywhere where it might be useful. I’m not sullying my town with this capitalist garbage. I just need your friendship points, old man.
Throughout all of this, when you talk to him, his dialogue is incorrigible. If you ask him why you’re doing all the hard work, he rebuffs you and says actually, he did the hard work back when [situation that does not apply or matter to the task at hand]. If you leave the conversation, he doesn’t say goodbye. He wishes you a bullish day on the stock market. And the big reward for opening the economy back up? The privilege of giving Scrooge more money in his store, of course. He won’t let you preview anything you can’t afford, though, so don’t you poors start getting any funny ideas.
I’m still fairly early on in the game, and I know all of this is supposed to be endearing if not fairly faithful to the actual character. It’s Scrooge, for goodness’ sake. It would be weird if he were a generous dude, right? Still, it’s hard not to balk a little at everything Scrooge wants me to do, precisely because of the type of character that he is. Why is it that he’s asking me to sell precious gemstones to Goofy’s stall, the marketplace that is typically booming with 1-dollar seedlings? Am I helping him launder money? Why won’t he leave Goofy’s business alone, anyway? He’s got an empire, Goofy just wants to do his thing! Stop pushing him to expand! Goofy would probably trip and drop all his money on the lake anyway with a big ol’ gawrsh, and then never give it a second thought again. The lanky dog lives a simple life Scrooge could never imagine.
It’s possible I’m getting Scrooge all wrong and that, with time, I come to find out he’s actually a pretty good dude underneath all the finance talk. But this asshole makes even friendship difficult. His favorite things just so happen to be the rarest items in the game that are worth the most money. Sure, Scrooge, I’ll give you a GOLD BAR for some stock market tips. TF.
Sorry for ever badmouthing you, Tom Nook. You’re a chill dude after all. Nintendo did try to tell us he Nook was misunderstood way back when. And hey, at least with Scrooge, you know exactly what you’re getting because he never tries to hide it.