As the box says, Animal Crossing is “the real-life game that’s happening every second of the day, whether you’re there or not!” That’s a pretty accurate description of Animal Crossing. I grew up with the Animal Crossing games, and so I wanted to play all of them all over again, starting with the “original”, not counting Dobutsu no Mori, the Japanese N64 version.
When you first start Animal Crossing, you’re thrust into a conversation with a nosy cat named Rover, who lets you pick your name and town’s name, and the choices you make when answering his questions affects your character’s face style and starting clothing. Rover also sets up the very basic “story” of Animal Crossing: you’re moving out of the big city to a small quiet village. You don’t really have any money, and you don’t really know where you’ll live or what you’ll do, but you figure you’ll manage somehow. When you tell Rover that, he says that he knows the shop keeper in town who also rents out houses, and gives him a quick ring to help get you set up.
When you finally arrive in your town, local tanuki (mythical Japanese raccoon) and shop keep Tom Nook welcomes you and shows you to where your option of 4 houses are. Here you can pick your house, although, there is very little between the 4 tiny houses, and Nook gives you a price, only to discover you’re about 17,800 bells (Animal Crossing currency) short. He then sets you up with a part time job at his shop to help you pay off your debt and more importantly for the player, learn the controls and some of the things you can do in the world of Animal Crossing.
Once you finish the work/tutorial, you’ll still be around 16,000 bells short, so you’ll need to find your own way to pay off your debt to Nook. This is when Animal Crossing opens up and you can do virtually anything you want. Animal Crossing doesn’t have a specified end or goal, so you’ll need to make your own goals. Setting your sights on your debt to Nook is always a good first choice for a personal goal.
What makes Animal Crossing unique as a game is the fact that it operates on your system’s clock. If you wake up at 10am to play Animal Crossing, it will also be 10am in Animal Crossing. Time will also pass at normal rate, whether you’re playing or not. During the winter, it snows, and there are holidays spread throughout the year, some made especially for Animal Crossing, like the fishing tourney, and some mimicking real-world holidays even occurring on the same day, like Halloween. During these days, there’s usually other fun things to do to acquire special items.
So what can you do in Animal Crossing? Essentially whatever you want. There are tools you can purchase from Nook to perform different tasks, like a shovel to plant trees, dig up fossils and other buried treasures, an axe to chop down trees, and a net and fishing rod to catch insects and fish respectively. Catching insects and fish are seasonal and some of the more fun (and sometimes the most lucrative) things to do. Anthropomorphic animals also live in your village and you can chat with them as often as you like. Sometimes you can get free stuff from them, and sometimes they will have errands for you to run, which they are always willing to reward. Animals have their own personalities as well as wake and sleep schedules, like they actually have their own lives. In fact, don’t be surprised if you wind up getting attached to your villagers! You can sell pretty much anything you get to Nook for bells so you can get closer to paying off you debt.
Your town also features a museum, albeit, an empty one. This is another personal goal you can work towards if you like. There are sections for fossils, paintings, fish, and insects, and you can donate whatever you find, for the first time anyway. There are 40 insects and fish for a total of 80 that are seasonal, meaning you’ll have to play a better part of a whole year if you want to catch them all. There are also 25 randomly occurring fossils to find buried and 15 rare paintings, making the museum quite a feat to complete. Doing so will reward you, though! Generally, you can expect rewards for any major milestones.
You can also collect clothing to dress in, or collect furniture to decorate your house. In fact, there are many different series of furniture that go together that are fun to collect and decorate your house in. You can also have your house judged on how much similar, rare, and useful furniture you have in your house, allowing you to rack up points and of course, be rewarded for your efforts.
Animal Crossing even features the ability make your own clothes in a 32 x 32 pixel style that you can plaster on shirts, umbrellas, wallpapers and floors, and if they’re good enough, you might even see some animals in town walking around with your original design on!
There are a number of mini games and Game Boy Advance connectivity features. For example, you can design your patterns on the GBA instead of in game. Also, there are 15 collectible NES games you can play, and you can also upload them to your GBA if you wish. Lastly, connecting your GBA can allow you to access the tropical island, where it’s always summer and also allows you to play the Animal Island mini game on your GBA, rewarding you with money and unique items that can only be found on the island. There’s even an island villager to meet and talk to. Animal Crossing even has an e-Reader functionality, but finding the cards these days is gonna run you a pretty penny. The amount of work that went into the GBA connectivity is staggering and impressive.
In Animal Crossing, you can pretty much choose to do whatever you like. It’s kind of a hard game to review because there is SO much you can do in it. I loved Animal Crossing, and the only real gripe I have is the fact that if you can only play in the wee early hours or late at night, you won’t have as much fun, as the shop is typically only open from 9am-10pm, meaning if you have a full inventory, you won’t be able to do much at all when the shop is closed. Not only that, but many of your villagers may be asleep as well, meaning less to do.
The Bottom Line
- Fun, relaxing gameplay and music.
- Easy to get attached to.
- Tons to do and collect.
- Make your own goals.
- The time between the closed shop.
- Takes a decently large time commitment.
- Slow paced.
- Make your own goals.
Final Score: 9.5/10
Depending on who you ask, Animal Crossing is either an amazing game or an incredibly boring one. Some people don’t like making their own goals and the idea of not being able to sit down and “power through” a game sometimes turns some people away. That said, I’m in the first camp; I think Animal Crossing is amazing, fun, and relaxing, and everyone should try it at least once.