Is all good in this hood?
As I have played all of the Animal Crossing games (excluding Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival – A Wii party type spin off game for the Wii U) and many people have asked me if it's worth playing/where to start, I thought I'd write a beginners guide to the Animal Crossing Franchise.
The Game Objective
Animal Crossing is a real time (time runs on a 24 hour clock and seasons change accordingly), simulation game created by Nintendo. The ongoing theme of the Animal Crossing games is basically... living! You are a small elf-looking human that moves into a village full of animal occupants that you can talk to, befriend and exchange gifts with. There are many things to do whilst living in your village depending on game to game but generally the main things are: fishing, catching bugs, shopping, discovering fossils, designing, paying off your mortgage in order to size up your house, decorating your living space, garden and more! A bit like a cross between Harvest Moon and The Sims. This can sound a little mundane to somebody that is used to fast paced games but it's amazing how consumed you become with if your villagers are satisfied with where they live or if you have enough bells (currency in the Animal Crossing universe) to buy that sofa you wanted.
There were lots of changes made from the first Animal Crossing game to the latest installment mostly regarding the personalisation of things, more in game events were added so that you were less likely to get bored, more villagers, etc, etc.
Where To Start?
Animal Forest (GameCube): If you want to get technical, the first game released in the Animal Crossing series is Dōbutsu no Mori (translation: Animal Forest) on the Nintendo 64 back in 2001 in Japan only, it was then released on Nintendo GameCube later that year but as I have yet to live in Japan, let's start with the English releases. Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube was released worldwide from 2002-2004. I myself have begun playing this version however I don’t own a GameCube and as the first game in the series, there really isn't much to do so I can only play this game for so long.
Wild World (DS): The next game in the series was Animal Crossing Wild World for the Nintendo DS and my 10 year old self went nuts for it. Now I know that the GameCube version had some kind of connectivity to it where you could sync your GameCube up to your gameboy in order to visit bonus areas but this was the first Animal Crossing game where you could connect with other players - either in person or via wifi – and you could visit their town and experience a new land as nobodies towns are laid out the same, they'd usually have different villagers, different fruit trees etc so it almost became like a collectable objective, you could make friends with animals in your friends village, steal some of their fruit and grow that fruit on trees in your town (every town starts out with one kind of fruit tree, either Apples, Pears, Oranges, Peaches or Cherries), send your friends in game letters and although this game has a beginning but no middle or end, everyone's towns develop at different rates depending on how much you play, so your friend's shops could be more developed than yours which unlocks more potential for your villager.
City Folk (Wii): After that was Animal Crossing Lets Go To The City (to Europe) and Animal Crossing City Folk (to pretty much everywhere else) was released on the Nintendo Wii in 2008 and remains to this day, my favourite game in the series – this could just be due to sentimentality though. This game progressed the connectivity side and released the Wii Speak, a microphone that sits on top of the TV and enables you to speak to your friends whilst connecting with them, so handy! I however didn’t have this so I spent my days trying to sync up the Wii remote to the sensor just to type out short messages using the on screen keyboard to the friends I was connecting with, who had usually moved off that topic by then. Other things that had improved were the overall graphics of the game, everything was a lot less pixelated and smoother and with the City now introduced into this game, you now had many more shops to explore eg. A theatre where you learnt expressions to use when connecting, an auction house where your friends could put items they didn't want anymore up for sale for their friends, a designer clothes/furniture store and even a shop for the local fortune teller: Katrina. Nintendo also introduced the use of the Mii feature in City Folk as well as the ability to (if you previously owned Wild World) to move your Wild World character into the City Folk game. There was a lot more introduced but I'll be here all day if I chose to list them all.
New Leaf (3DS): The latest Animal Crossing game (not including spin offs) is Animal Crossing New Leaf on the 3DS, this long awaited follow up was released in 2013. The number one change in New Leaf was the fact that you're now the Mayor of your town! As the mayor you get to make public works projects such as benches, fountains, bridges, new stores, etc. That require town funding (Don't get your hopes up, your villagers will only donate around 300 bells between them out of thousands, so you'll have to pay the rest) also introduced; town ordinances! If you've ever played a previous Animal Crossing game, you'll know the problem you'll have if you leave your town for a little while: WEEDS. Weeds will grow all over your town if you don't play Animal Crossing every few days, however with the town ordinances you can set one so that no weeds will grow! You can leave your town for months and only a small handful of weeds will appear! Other ordinances include: one to make your shops open earlier/later and one to make your town wealthier. Taken from City Folk, New Leaf also has a city area where most of the shops are located, some new shops were introduced in New Leaf as well. New Leaf also took a LEAF (ba dum tss) from the first Animal Crossing game with the extra land to visit: an island to be precise where you can catch rare bugs and fish as well as collect Mermaid items (which for the record are my favourite items) as well as play island mini games by yourself or with people you're connecting with such as; scavenger hunts, hide and seek and time trials. You can also purchased a wetsuit from the island which enables your player to swim and dive in order to collect sea slugs, urchins, isopods and more. Again, there are more things to add but I think this is long enough.
Happy Home Designer (3Ds): Now this is a spin off game and is not like any of the previous titles but I enjoy this game SO MUCH. Released in 2015, Happy Home Designer is basically New Leaf except you don't live in your own town, the entire object of the game is to design houses for villagers. You work at basically an estate agents called: Nook's Homes and animal villagers from previous games as well as new ones will come and ask for a certain themed house for example: "A mix of antique pieces.", "A supersweet bakery.", "A hot-springs spa" and around 335 more. Your job is to design the interior and exterior using a large catalogue of items, wallpapers, flooring, rugs and more! I somehow manage to play this game more than New Leaf these days. You can also use Amiibo figures and cards with this to scan in the villagers you want to design for.
So there you go! This has been my (long) round up of the Animal Crossing franchise, hopefully this has persuaded some of you to try this game if you haven't already and if you're already an avid fan of the series I might upload my town to the Dream Suite or to the Happy Home Network, if I do I'll tweet out my friend code soon (@hopeelizab)