Animal Crossing is a social simulation game created by Katsuya Eguchi and Hisashi Nogami in 2001 for the Nintendo 64 and since then there have been 8 different games and 1 Japanese exclusive game all on different consoles. Each one of the 8 games are unique in their own way from an online board game to a mobile game to the classic life simulation game. Not all these games are successful but most of them are hits having new horizons sell around 31.8 million copies in the first year.
Animal forest/ Animal crossing: Population Growing
Animal Crossing was first released under the name Animal Forest, (Dōbutsu no Mori) for the Nintendo 64 in Japan in April of 2001. The only downside of this was that the new game cube was released shortly after in the fall of 2001, which made the Nintendo 64 outdated. Enhancing the game to work with the game cube, it was released in 2002 worldwide as Animal Crossing: Population Growing. In this game, you controlled your character’s life in a randomly generated town unique to each player’s game. Each person’s game play is different depending on what they do, how they play, and what villagers they had. This game had very different experiences for each player, with 218 unique villagers with 6 different personality types. This unique variety is why people liked the game so much. The English release of animal crossing featured more content than the Japanese version. The Japanese developers ended up liking what the English developers added, so much, that they added it to the game in an updated version in 2003 called Animal Forest e+.
Animal Crossing: Wild World
In 2005 Animal Crossing: Wild World was released on the DS. This game had fewer villagers in the game with only 150 villagers compared to the original 218. Wild World did add a bunch of new things to make the gameplay different like 3 new characters, Villagers’ photos, more interactions with villagers, new holidays and tools, an online feature, and more. The 3 new characters that were added were Celeste the constellation spotting owl, Brewster the barista pigeon, and Harriet the hairstylist dog. The villager photos were a mark of friendship with your villagers. If you talked to and wrote a villager enough you’d build up a friendship with them and when you reached max friendship with them they’d give you a photo. The new tools included the slingshot which you can see balloons on the top screen of the DS and the watering can for flowers. The online feature allowed players to play together through a wifi connection until the service was discontinued in 2014. Certain holidays in animal crossing like Halloween and Toy day were removed and replaced with holidays like Yay-day and La-Di day. Villagers would chase around your player to try and talk to you. Villagers would also challenge players in a competition and ask you to do things for them. Which was a big factor of why it was so beloved by fans.
Animal Crossing: City Folk
The next game was Animal crossing: City folk released in 2008 on the Wii. This game included 210 villagers and it added a city with shops for the NPCs instead of them just visiting your island periodically. City folk also introduced 8 more insects and fish bringing the total up to 64. To get to the city you need to catch a bus driven by Kappin and that will allow you to visit Gracie, Redd, Dr.Shrunk, and others, and the downside of that is the city closes at 9 pm every day. Unlike Wild World, City Folk has the classic in-game holidays that mirror regular holidays like Toy day, Halloween, and Festivale. A feature that sadly was taken away from the game where villager photos villagers no longer gave you their photos as a token of their friendship. They also don’t chase after you trying to talk to you.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
The fourth game was Animal Crossing: New Leaf which was released in 2013 on the 3DS. This game had 333 villagers but it added 2 new villager personalities which are smug and uchi. Animal Crossing New Leaf basically revolutionized the game by adding customization, dream suites, the roost,re-tail, 12 new bugs and fish, deep-sea creatures, and the return of multi-player. You designate where everything in your town goes and how it is laid out. This is the first game in the franchise where you’re not just one of the villagers, you’re the mayor and you dictate where everything goes. You’re also given 10 customization slots per player(up to 4 players) and with these, you can have and create any pattern you want. With the dream suit after sleeping, you meet Luna who will allow you to visit towns and allow people to visit yours. Roost allows you to work for brewster and make coffee for your villagers and re-tail where they take the job of tom nook in previous games. Deep-sea diving allows you to explore the ocean and get sea creatures for your Mausam. New Leaf also welcomed amiibos to the game where you can scan in an amiibo card and welcome that villager into your island.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
The most recent game is Animal Crossing: New Horizons which was released in 2020 for the switch. In this game, you are the island representative like in New Leaf you have complete say over everything that happens on your island. You can even select the villagers you want by using Nook Mile Tickets to go on islands and find villagers. In New Horizons, you can also terraform you can make your island look however you want it to look. You can also craft items in New Horizons using a crafting bench. There are currently around 610 unique craftable items in the game but there’s more to come in the future. The downside of New Horizons is that it updates are based so there’s more gameplay in the future and fans are eagerly waiting for those updated
Animal Crossing has some side adventures including a mobile game, a board game, and a home decorating game. The mobile game is called Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and it was released on most mobile devices in 2017. This is a free game with in-app purchases and it includes a wide variety of villagers 225 to be exact this is also where everyone’s favorite smug cat Raymond was first introduced. In pocket camp, you start off choosing if you want a natural, sporty, cute, or cool campsite and you want to customize your campsite accordingly and invite villagers that match that theme. There’s also crafting in Pocket Camp but it’s not like in New Horizons, where you do it yourself, you have to ask Cyrus (the owner of re-tail) to do it for you. The next spin-off series is Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer released in 2015 on the 3DS. In this game, you were given the job of designing villagers’ homes based on their requests. A new character named Lottie helps you fill out the villagers’ request. You need to customize the villager’s floor, carpet, and furniture, and as you complete requests more items will be available to be used. The last spin-off series is Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival release in 2015 on the Wii U. This game had 3 gameplays to choose from, the Board Game where you need one or more amiibos to play you move/roll the dice by placing the amiibo on and off the pad. The second game is Balloon Island which you can play if you play the board game twice you use amiibo cards and figures to drop villagers on balloons popping them and gaining points. The last game is Desert island. You need to use happy tickets to unlock your goal to find 3 logs and a sail to escape. You will encounter enemies and you must get food to survive. This game was later added to the New Leaf.
Animal Crossing has been a game series that has been around for 20 years, with more years to come because of the growth in popularity around it. Animal Crossing has had its fair share of flop releases but their releases are still setting records. Throughout the year Animal Crossing has flourished into its own fun and unique game and we all have to thank the first animal crossing for that. Without how unique the first Animal Crossing was we wouldn’t have New Horizons. Each game brought a new and unique gaming experience along with it and that’s why Animal Crossing has been around for 20 years and counting.