As Lauren wrote yesterday, Disney Dreamlight Valley is easy to get hooked on. The game’s building tools, art style, and seemingly endless quests and activities really does make it feel like it’s the Animal Crossing on PC we’ve been waiting for.
I’m not a Disney fan and I never played Animal Crossing, yet here I am, pouring hours into Disney Dreamlight Valley. Last night I glanced at the clock around 1 am and I realized I was fighting to stay awake simply because I desperately needed to show Wall-E how to give a carrot to a squirrel. I am an adult who hasn’t watched a Disney animated film in years, and wasn’t even into them as a kid, and somehow showing a trash robot how to feed a rodent was more important to me than sleep.
I’m not saying I hate Disney, I just don’t have any sort of personal or emotional attachment to its films or characters. Growing up my main interest was Star Wars (which, naturally, Disney now owns), so meeting Han Solo or Luke Skywalker would have been my wish, not hanging out with Donald Duck or Buzz Lightyear. But I’m still probably going to spend the entire weekend making sure Maui likes the house I just built for him and keeping Scrooge McDuck swimming in coins like a befeathered Jeff Bezos.
While I enjoy some of the characters in Dreamlight Valley, like Moana, and I can tolerate Mickey and Merlin and that rat chef long enough to complete tasks for them or raise their friendship levels, I have slowly come to realize I have an intense dislike for Goofy. The first hour or so of Dreamlight Valley is heavily frontloaded with Goofy, since he teaches you how to fish and runs the seed stand where you can sell your collected crap for coins. Every time I interact with Goofy I like him a little bit less, and even when I’m not specifically dealing with him he still manages to annoy me.
Look, I get it, he’s a friendly dope, but he’s just got so much energy it feels like he’s draining mine. Yes, Goofy, I just bought some carrot seeds from you, but it’s not an event that requires you to flail your arms around and grin excitedly in my face from a distance of three millimeters. You don’t have to start dancing just because I sold you 14 hunks of dirt that were taking up space in my inventory. Chill, dude.
My dislike goes beyond his personality. Even when I can’t see him, his presence can be felt in Dreamlight Valley at almost all times. He’s often noisily fishing, making constant off-screen hyucks and yullps and other assorted straining noises as he attempts to land a catch. By the way, I’ve stood there watching him fish and the dude never catches anything, which somehow makes his noisy efforts even more annoying.
Worse still, when I’m doing some fishing he’ll sprint over to watch, typically standing in just the right spot to block my view of the fishing meter so I have to move the camera. When I catch something, he’ll celebrate by cavorting roughly one inch in front of my face. Everyone in Dreamlight Valley cavorts, but take it down a notch, bruv. And due to what I suspect is an early access glitch, Goofy is constantly remarking that it’s raining when it’s not raining, and in the hour I played last night where it was literally pouring he didn’t say word one about it. Get your shit together, Goofy.
And I feel this needs to be asked: is Goofy really a big enough celebrity for a major Disney videogame? Disney owns so much of pop-culture now that surely there were some better choices. I’m not saying Goofy isn’t famous, just that his star is long past fading. He’s had two feature films, the last one being “An Extremely Goofy Movie” way back in 2000. Following that, all I see as star vehicles on his CV are a six-minute film from 2007 called “How to Hook Up Your Home Theater”—wow, that sounds great—and then some shorts about Goofy staying home during the pandemic. Yikes. How fast did Mickey pass on those projects? Elsa would fire her agent for even pitching them. Goofy is not the first name on anyone’s call sheet these days.
So why am I having to suffer his ceaseless cavorting? Why can’t I cross the peaceful, idyllic meadow without hearing his guttural, straining grunts as he tries and fails to pull a fish from the pond? Captain Hook could have taught me to fish. Eeyore could be running the seed stand. But no, I’m stuck with a humanoid dog that has the personality of an automobile dealership’s air dancer balloon.
I never played Animal Crossing but I understand it’s possible to kick a character off your island, apparently by hitting them repeatedly with a butterfly net. As irritating as I find him, Goofy is a good-natured fellow and I honestly don’t want to hit him with anything. But if I could escort him to Moana’s canoe, gently nudge it into the sea with my foot, and watch him slowly drift over the horizon, his hyyuks and yullps growing fainter and fainter, I’d be perfectly happy with that. I might even briefly cavort.