Animal Crossing
Game Info
Official Website
ESRB Rating
The Good

• Open-ended gameplay
• Lots of things to do and earn
• NES games!!!!
• Uses GC to GBA connectivity and E-Reader

The Bad

• A keyboard would have helped the letter writing
• N64 graphics
• No major goal may turn off some gamers


Animal Crossing is an interesting title that can be best described as a life simulation. You begin the game on a train, headed to a town to start life out on your own. After a conversation with a fellow passenger, you've gotten yourself set up with a home in the new town, which you get to name. Once you arrive, you meet Tom Nook, who owns four empty houses and the local general store. After moving into your home, you find that you now have to work for Tom Nook to pay off your mortgage. From this point, you can work for Tom Nook, help out the local villagers or just do as you please. Except for a few required locations (post office, museum, police station), the town is randomly generated at the beginning of the game, with variables including the type of fruit available and the types of villagers in your town. The town starts off small, but new villagers move in as time goes on.

One of the main focuses of the game is how Animal Crossing relies on the internal clock for the GameCube If you start playing at 8 in the evening, the game will start you out at that time. The sun will set and rise with the time of day and the weather will change with the different seasons. The town runs on a schedule based on the date and day of the week and even the time of day. When you're not working for Tom Nook to pay off your debt, you can always ask the villagers for things to do. Successful completion of the tasks will often get you new furniture, clothes and stationary. Outside of the usual menial delivery tasks that you acquire from the villagers, you'll become part of the Happy Room Academy, who will grade your house on design and appearance and will give you tips on how to make it look better. Also, you have the option to catch fish and insects or even grab a shovel and dig for treasure (usually money, fossils or an item), most of which can either be sold or donated to the local museum.

"I want to change my look." Don't like the design of your clothes, then find the Able Sisters and pay them to let you design your own pattern. You won't be making any Mona Lisas, but you'll have enough options to make something that looks fairly good. Once the pattern is done, you can use it on your clothes, the front of your door or on your umbrella. You can store up to eight designs for immediate use.

One of the more ingenious aspects of the game is the ability to send items to other gamers in their towns. Find out a friend's town and name and you can go to Tom Nook and give him an item to send them. Tom will give a password that they'll need to tell their own Tom Nook to get the item. This can lead to a lot of trading for items that people may need to satisfy certain objectives or just to have essential items like the shovel and fishing pole.

Probably one of the more rewarding aspects of the game is the ability to earn NES games that you can play to kill time in your house. Among the games you can earn are titles like Donkey Kong, Balloon Fighter, Excitebike and Pinball. While a lot of the items you earn are useful towards the basic game, the addition of the NES titles, which look fairly well emulated, are the true rare reward a game like this should warrant.

Animal Crossing also makes use of the GameCube to GameBoy Advance connectivity. There is a dock along the shore where, once you hook up your GameBoy Advance, you can take a ride to your town's secret island, which is often full of money and fruit (sometimes you can find fruit there that you may not have access to on your own village.) Also, you can use the E-Reader to scan card packs to earn various items, most importantly of which is NES games you might not have found in the game. While neither add-on is essential to the game, they do add to the overall package.

Visually, the game is nothing to wow your friends with. It looks like an N64 title with sharper, cleaner graphics. Most everything is built with a simple, cartoony look that is reminiscent of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. In fact, the grass, bushes and trees look like 3D renditions of the classic SNES game. The character models don't have a lot of detail, but fortunately, have more than enough personality to make up the difference. If a neighbor is happy with you, they'll glow, but if they're depressed, they may have telltale black clouds floating about their heads. The graphics are exceptionally functional and in no way detract from the gameplay. Unless you're addicted to excessively detailed, high-resolution games, you won't find Animal Crossing's look to be any bit of a hindrance.

Audio-wise, the game really comes across as quirky. The music is playful and the sound effects, while limited, add to the rather laid-back tone of the game. When you talk to people, they make noise that sounds an awful lot like they're actually speaking the lines without being direct about it. In fact, a lot of the voice parts will bring a smile to your lips. From time to time, K.K. the folksinger, will show up in town and perform concerts. You can also buy new songs from him to play on your radio. Since he has well over 50 tunes, it make take you a year to hear them all. And, if you want to, you can find the Music Board to change the little tune you hear when talking to the other villagers.

To have a truly successful run in Animal Crossing, though, you will have to learn to write letters. When you want to write a letter, you'll select some stationary and then type out your message using your controller. Sometimes, sending letters will get you presents from the recipient. Also, when you find fossils, you'll need to send them to the Farway Museum to get appraised before giving them to the local museum for display. One of the things I wished was that the GameCube had a keyboard to make the letter writing a little less tedious. Other than that, it's a nice touch that helps emphasize the communication aspect of the game.

Animal Crossing is not a game to be played over a couple hours at a time. It's best enjoyed an hour at a time, a few times a day. Often, you'll do all of the tasks available in town within an hour and unless you feel like fishing or playing your NES games, you're better served to come back later. Also, considering the game's penchant for sticking to time schedules, you might find yourself having to play at certain times to get events or not being able to get much to do late in the evening as most of the villages will want to get some sleep. This is the kind of game that you can play by yourself, but it's more fun to do it with friends, so you can trade items or even visit each other's town (by way of train). Even better is that you can have up to four people in your village, which means that family and friends can live and play with you.

Animal Crossing is one of those games that if you like the idea behind it, you'll be rewarded by owning and playing it. Since there are no set goals or tasks, certain gamers might be turned off by the nonlinear gameplay and the fact that it's best to play it for only short periods. Those who do enjoy it might find themselves playing this game at least a little everyday for the length of time that they own a GameCube. Animal Crossing is like a virtual pet - you'll want to turn it on once a day just to see what's going on.

- - Kinderfeld

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