Animal Crossing Franchise Recap - Prima Games

Animal Crossing Franchise Recap

by Prima Games Staff

Nintendo released the original Animal Crossing in the United States on April 14, 2001.  At first, this charming title reminded us of Electronic Arts’ The Sims, though any perceived similarities quickly evaporated once we played the game.  The concept of living in a town populated with anthropomorphic critters was a tough sell to some people.  For us, it provided a welcome escape from the real world.  There’s very little stress in Animal Crossing, which is one of the big reasons we love it.

With Animal Crossing: New Leaf debuting on 3DS June 9, here’s a quick look at the franchise, along with features that made each game stand out.

Animal Crossing (GameCube, 2001)


Animal Crossing and the TV show Seinfeld are about nothing in particular.  There’s no far-reaching plot or goal.  Unlike many video games, you don’t shoot monsters or race sports cars.  You just live in this fictitious town with a bunch of talking animals.  Building one’s house takes up the majority of his or her time, along with writing letters, fishing and celebrating real world holidays, thanks to the game working in tandem with the GameCube’s internal clock; these are Animal Crossing staples.

Being able to share a village with up three friends is cool, but one of the game’s biggest selling points is the option to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System console and play such hits as Donkey Kong and Excitebike.  It sure beats having to buy them separately today.  Some were even made available using Nintendo’s E-Reader accessory for the Game Boy Advance, which connected to the console through the GBA Link Cable.

Of course, this was the first time we met familiar faces Tom Nook and Mr. Resetti, among others.

Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS, 2005)


The highest-selling Animal Crossing of all time with over 11 million copies, Wild World let players take the beloved experience with them on the go. Although it borrowed numerous elements from the original, this game made excellent use of the DS touchscreen.  Players not only managed their inventories this way, but also composed letters and designed clothing patterns with the stylus.  In addition, Nintendo chose to replace the top-down perspective in the GameCube version with a neat visual trick where the environment rolls as the player walks, giving the illusion of being on a planet.  Beyond that, both the ground and sky are visible.

Wild World is the first Animal Crossing to support online play through Nintendo Wi-Fi connection.  Players can visit friends’ villages and exchange items.

Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii, 2008)


As the title implies, Wii Animal Crossing lets gamers take a bus to the city, where they’re free to shop for clothes, get their hair done and meet up with a handful of new characters like Kicks the skunk.  City Folk is also compatible with Wild World in the sense that players can import their characters from the portable effort into the console game.

This was the first title to make use of Nintendo’s Wii Speak microphone, giving players the opportunity to chat with friends using the accessory.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS, 2013)


New Leaf is the most feature-packed Animal Crossing yet. The biggest addition by far is being able to play as the mayor.  This new position grants unprecedented control to shaping the town as you see fit, by placing benches, bridges, street lamps and even buildings.

Here’s a small sampling of things you can do: go for a swim, visit a tropical island and play mini-games with friends, custom design patterns for furniture, wander through other players’ towns from across the globe, sell items and check out a dance club.  To learn more, read this article about New Leaf’s 10 game changing features.

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