Animal Crossing is an experimental game by Nintendo in their Gamecube line that was slated to release on September 16th, 2002.

With the Gamecube's popularity, Nintendo has continued many of its favorite lines, but in addition there is more attempts at different types games. The first experimental game was Pikmin at the beginning of the Gamecube's life which met with acclaims but was faulted on the length of the game. For Animal Crossing, Nintendo attempted to do real time gaming. The theory behind real time gaming was that if the system was turned on September 7th, 2002 at 3:00 pm the time in the game is September 7th, 2002 at 3:00 pm.

Included in Animal Crossing is a chance for the player to acquire NES games and play them, some of the possible titles are Donkey Kong, Baseball, Punch-out!! and Ice Climber. Along with rumors of possible appearance of The Legend of Zelda. The question of which games are going to be included are still unknown.

The Animal Crossing game requires a full 59 blocks of the Nintendo memory card and the 251 card only will contain one save at a time. Rumors of a memory card coming with the game all seem to be true. The game will allow two friends to swap memory cards so they can explore another person's town and visit friends. There is also a password system for two long distance friends to trade items.

In addition the system can be linked to the Game Boy Advance and with the E-reader attachment, cards can be scanned in and new items can be added to the game, how this affects the game is yet unknown as all the cards have not come out yet nor have they disclosed all the uses of the game.

Also when the game is reset in the middle of the game a mysterious creature named Mr. Ressetti appears and warns you that you can't reset real life (good idea because with enough emulating real life seems to need save states). As you reset more and more he tends to get angrier.

The game while looks and seems childish appears to be a large expansive galaxy that people can explore. The game will play similar to the Sims with more exploration rather then simulation.

Most of this data is based on the Japanese version of the game so changes should be expected.


I have decided not to review the game as my review can't do the game justice. The above data was the speculation before the game was release.

Overall the idea was implement well, and the size of the game is large. There is about 1400 objects that can be acquired, and many items that are fun to find and play with.

If nothing else, this game deserves a mention in the large book of "innovative ideas".

Okay, here's my review.

First, some important information:

There is a set of NES games that can be found in the game somewhere.

There are most likely hidden games that will be unlocked due to some sort of Nintendo competition. Soccer, Donkey Kong Jr. and Clu Clu Land D have been obtainable by an ad on the official Animal Crossing website (http://www.animal-crossing.com), although they can be probably be obtained in the game as well. Wario's Woods and Baseball can only be found on the Island, which is activated with the Game Boy Advance connected. Besides these exceptions, anyone can get any game either for their Birthday, Tom Nook's monthly lotteries, at Crazy Redd's, or by interacting with villagers. You can also get any game via a trade with someone else by exchanging passwords.

UPDATE: It has been confirmed that two more games are in Animal Crossing, but up until now remain locked away (as no one has gotten them yet). These games were discovered by Datel, makers of cheating peripherals, and that they had unlocked these games with their product. It is unknown when Nintendo will release codes on their website for obtaining these games:

The game requires 57 memory blocks, plus 1 for extra data (NES high scores) However, the game comes with a 59-block card. The card comes with a non-transferable gift packet (which takes up the last memory block) that unlocks when you play the game. If you start your village on that card, you will recieve a gift from Nintendo in-game of 2 free NES games. Villages cannot be transfered between cards, but your character can 'visit' villages on other cards, and interact with the other village in simmilar ways.

The game resembles a cross between The Sims and Harvest Moon, with gameplay resembling the latter with some additions from the former.

The game was originally released in Japan as Animal Forest for the N64. It was re-released for the Gamecube as Animal Forest Plus, before being released on Sept. 16, 2002 in North America. There is no confirmed date for release in Europe. It appeared early in Blockbuster stores, without the memory card.

E-reader Animal Crossing Cards. Connecting the Gameboy Advance along with the E-reader peripheral unlocks a few new features. Apparantely, you can get Animal Crossing-e cards wherever collectible cards are sold (and presumably for about the same price)

There are three types of Animal Crossing Data:

  • Character Cards. Scanning them unlocks a special item in the game for you get. Alternatively, a code is printed on the card itself, and it is rumoured that if you write a letter with the code to an animal, they will mail you a present in return.
  • Tune Cards. These cards contain jingles that you can upload to your game's theme song board.
  • Patterns. These cards contain neat patterns that supplement the ones you can design yourself. In other words, they can be used for clothes, wallpaper, carpets, etc.

In addition to these uploadable features, each card will have information about things in the game, and kids will no doubt be trading them in schools if it catches on.

Now I will try and document everything I can about this game...


When Animal Crossing starts, you are introduced to the guitar-playing dog, Totakeke, who prefers to be called K.K. Slider. He emphasises that this is meant to be a communication game, and the more people you get involved, the more fun you will have.

You then fade-in to a train scene (1st person), where you meet an outgoing cat that won't leave you alone, prying vital details from your hands like your name, gender and the name of the village you're moving to, and how can you be moving to the village when you don't have a house. He then sets you up with a friend of his, Tom Nook, that can get you a place to crash in your new village.

You emerge from the train in an overhead view (which continues for the rest of the game, now that they know your gender), and are greeted by Tom Nook. He shows you the houses on the block (all 4 of them), and let's you pick one. Of course, if you think you're getting it for free, you're out of luck. Unless you want his Racoon Mafia to jump you, you're going to work for him at his store until you pay off your debt!

Through his various jobs, you get to know your village and its people. Every village has a Post Office, a Public Bulletin Board, a Lighthouse, a Dock, a Museum, an Able Sisters, a Police Station, a Dump, and of course, Nook's Cranny. Every village also starts with about 6 villagers, and a new one moves in every day until you reach 15 or so.

Eventually he runs out of jobs for you, and just laughs. He has a monopoly as the only store in your village, and you can't go anywhere, so you have to pay off your debt eventually... (insert Animal Crossing lauging sound here, it sounds like high-speed panting)

Anyways, at this point, the game becomes pretty much open-ened, and you can do as you please. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Pay off your debt. Every time you do, he remodels your house, making it bigger, adding floors, and leaving you with an even larger debt.
  • Chat up the villagers. You can do errands for them to get gifts, teach them catch phrases, play games with them, piss them off, make their day....
  • Become a Museum contributor. The Museum starts off empty, but you can have it written that you gave them that rare bug specimen, that exquisite painting, or that ancient dinosaur bone. Which leads to...
  • Collecting. There is a lot to collect. About 40 fish (caught with the Fishing Rod), 40 bugs (caught with the Bug Net), 20 fossils (dug up with the Shovel), 8 kinds of fruit, NES games, around 1400 different types of furniture, wallpaper and carpets, which can be bought from Tom Nook, or found at the dump, or in the lost in found...
  • Interior Decorating. There are tons of furniture, both sensible (couches, clocks and beds) to the insane (UFO's, Gyroids, Mossy Stones). There are collectable 'themes' (Citrus, Blue, Space), and you even get a score from the Happy Room Academy which is based on how things look. If your tastes are good Feng Shui, you will also have better luck in other pursuits.
  • Designing Patterns. There are tons of wallpapers, carpets, clothes and umbrellas to find, but you can even design your own patterns (simmilar to the stamp maker in Mario Paint), and watch as villagers tune into your taste in style.
  • Landscaping. There are lots of kinds of flowers, and you can plant fruit in the ground to make more trees. And you can use the Axe to chop down trees (or to take out your anger).
  • Play the 'stalk' market. You buy turnip stalks on Sunday morning and sell them to Tom Nook at a profit where prices are high! Just make sure to sell (or eat) them before they go bad!
  • Listen to and Write music. Because there's no ending in this game, you will be dying to get to the Train Station on Saturdays at 8 pm, because that's where Totakeke (also known as K.K. Slider) hangs out, to take requests and sings the classics you remember, from "Only Me" to "K.K. Salsa" to "K.K. Rock", as the credits scroll by. You can also change the town song to whatever you want. It get's played every hour by the bells (which I have never seen).
  • Celebrate. There are numerous holidays and festivals you can take part in to get free gifts. The game is synched to the Gamecube's system clock, so when it's day in real life, the villagers mill about, and when it's the middle of the night, very few people are walking around. Certain real holidays are in the game, along with some bonus ones (Sport Fair comes to mind), and you will find yourself constantly chaning the clock to catch important events. Of course, purists will find this to be against the nature of the game, and will avoid their real life to find the mayor to get the prize for the day. ;-)
  • Communicate. This is what the game is all about, and this is where it's at. Up to 4 people can play on the same game (although not at the same time), and you can send letters to your friends, set up a Buried Treasure Hunt for them, buy that one item they want and sell it to them for 100,000 Bell (the game's currency), and watch as the villagers comment about so-and-so's bad taste in furniture, or how nice so-and-so was when he brought a ball to play with, or showing you letters that they write each other. Yes, you can even write letters to the A.I. villagers, and they respond! (It's not too intelligent, and they don't comment on things you say) You can visit a friend's town, and take a fruit that's rare in your village and make a profit selling them. You can even trade items by any medium using a password system. (One password is good for one item for one name in one town)

Concluding remarks: All in all, this game has lots of things to do, and can keep one very busy for a long time. It's strangely addictive even for me. I would recommend this to just about anyone who likes replay value. I would especially recommend it to fans of The Sims and Harvest Moon, as well as families who want a game they can play together.

To expand on the information presented on the interconnectivity between the GameCube and the Game Boy Advance's E-Reader, as pertains to Animal Crossing...

As mentioned above, each card will have a dot-pattern strip and a text code on it. The dot strip will be scannable by the e-reader, at the E-Transfer Machine or ETM. When you scan the card at the ETM, a letter is immediately sent to your mailbox containing a piece of furniture or clothes or something as a present. (How they fit a piano into an envelope, I have no idea. But somehow they do.) The code needs to be written in a letter that you can send to anyone in the town, and you will get a reply from the person on the card instead of the mail's recipient. Again, you'll get a present along with the letter, though usually not the same one you get from using the scanner. Of course, if you get the code wrong, you'll get a very confused reply from the person you sent the code to.

Alright, here's the bit where things get interesting. If you have any intention of trying to find these things out for yourself, please do not read this. (Yes, all three of you.) The text-code printed on the card can land you an NES game. I believe I have gotten all of the regular games mentioned in Ian_Bailey's writeup. How you do this is by sending the letter with the code to the person -on the card-. Then you have a 60% chance of getting an NES game instead of the usual item - this is, of course, affected by various factors that change your character's luck, like making sure the town is weeded, feng shui, and others.

As for the rumored games... I beta-test for Nintendo and one of the save cards I used had the house completely full of NES games, many of which probably require a password or something to unlock them that Nintendo has yet to reveal. Included in the stack was Legend of Zelda, Punchout, Donkey Kong 3, Super Mario Brothers, and others that haven't been mentioned on websites anywhere so I don't have any leeway to inform people they exist. There's some more cool ones though. Since there were rumors of Zelda and Punchout, and especially since reviews of the Japanese version of the game had screenshots of said games... It's released information and I won't get fired for it! Wheeee!


1/23/2003 addendum: I just purchased Animal Crossing. After playing it at work for eight hours a day. I don't know whether this is a compliment to Nintendo or just pitiful.

3/10/2003 addendum: I have learned that some of the NES games are only unlockable via E-Reader cards. This will probably account for the rest of the games.

Although Animal Crossing was released in the USA in September 2002, the European version (PAL version) was put on hold until Nintendo could see how the game would perform in North America. Nintendo reasoned that AC was a new genre of game and were hesitant to spend time and money to release a game that might very well bomb around the world. The company chose to release the game in America as a test to see how audiences responded to it. If the American release was successful, then they planned to convert the game to the PAL format for European and Australian audiences.

But then something happened. Animal Crossing because a smash hit in the USA and development on the sequel was fast-tracked. In January 2003 Nintendo concluded that by the time they localized and converted the first AC game for the PAL market, the sequel would be ready for release. Therefore Nintendo decided to not release Animal Crossing in Europe, causing the game to join the ranks of other games released worldwide but not in Europe (such as Super Mario RPG). By extension this means that the Animal Crossing e-reader cards will also not be released in these regions (provided the e-reader is ever released in those regions).

On the other hand, don't cry too hard for Europe. While the USA was turning Animal Crossing into a smash hit, Europe was exclusively enjoying another new genre game: Doshin the Giant.

Japan, meanwhile, gets all the cool stuff. In June 2003 Nintendo announced plans to bring the American version of Animal Crossing to Japan so that our friends across the Pacific Ocean can enjoy some extra features and bonuses that weren't in the original version released there. Some of these extras are exclusive to the Japanese re-release and are marked in the list of additions below with an asterisk.

  • Upgraded animal designs *
  • Conversations and topics are changed *
  • All-new events added *
  • More than 100 additional items *
  • Visit the island without a Game Boy Advance *
  • Receive items using passwords
  • Save village data on SD Cards (using the SD Memory Card adapter) *
  • Take photos of village life, store on SD Cards, and print using photo printers, etc. *
  • Transfer data to the game using the e-Reader
  • Get letters from animals and import designs via cards
  • Link up to the Game Boy Advance and play all-new mini-games *
  • Download NES games to the Game Boy Advance via the link cable.

Nintendo has no plans to release the upgraded version, known as Doubutsu no Mori e+, outside of Japan and is instead focusing development energies on the upcoming Animal Crossing 2.


References:
http://www.n-philes.com
Japanese re-release specifics from http://pocket.ign.com/articles/424/424524p1.html

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