Animal Crossing mechanics in Zelda would be a bad idea. Real time sounds cool in theory, but in practice, it’s time wasted either waiting for the day or time you need to accomplish something specific, or activating whatever mechanic lets you move time to where you need it. Or cheating by changing your console clock. Or having to schedule your life around playing a video game at a specific time or on a specific day if they account for all of that. AC is a leisurely game so it’s fine, Zelda is an action game, who wants to stick to an MMO style-schedule of having to be in spot [x] at [specific day] to do [thing], or having the game will yell at you for not playing it enough.
Animal Crossing mechanics doesn’t mean doing what Animal Crossing does. I find that to be very boring!
Zelda is not just an action game, it is also a RPG. When I think of an RPG, I think of Ultima with NPC schedules, with baking your own bread, and doing whatever you want as the game world is its own world.
Instead of a trigger based RPG system which is actually popularized by Final Fantasy and its ‘stories’, I think Zelda is better fit for a world based system (e.g. more like Ultima). The world itself has its own clock, it doesn’t have to be tied to the system hardware’s clock. At night time, certain things happen. At day time, certain things happen. While that has been done, it is a launching pad into more intricate world.
Video games, especially fantasy based ones such as Zelda, are not ‘gameplay obstacle courses’ or ‘puzzle trivia’ but worlds to escape into. That is Zelda’s job: to provide a world to escape. Now, not every gamer wants a world to escape (the Wii Sports gamer comes to mind).
There used to be a buzzword that no one uses anymore: immersion. I want a Zelda that has immersion. This cannot be done with trains, with lame ass NPCs, with monsters that look ridiculous, and so on.