Animal Crossing is a series of life simulation games created by Nintendo. First released in Japan on the Nintendo 64 in 2001 (under the alternate title Animal Forest). The game immediately stood out for its open-world feel and the lack of conventional video game tropes such as points, combat or levels. In Animal Crossing you take control of an unnamed character in a village populated by various kinds of animals. Essentially Animal Crossing is open-ended in that there is no main objective, although the game features various challenges that evolve as time progresses. The game also runs in real-time, meaning that time is continually passing and allowing it to recognize important events such as Halloween or New Year.
While there really is no main objective to the game, when starting out, you're asked to complete a few simple tasks before you're let out on your own. Tom Nook will first approach you and try to sell you a house. After you choose which one to assimilate into, he'll ask for an exorbitant amount and will be disappointed that you only have 1,000 bells. (Bells are a form of currency in Animal Crossing) He'll then offer you to work of the rest of the wages and you'll be asked to do tasks such as delivering mail or items, meeting new people, and even planting trees outside his store.
After you finish paying off Tom Nook for your first mortgage, you're free to do as you please. From here on out, you can pay off more mortgages to increase the size of your house, purchase new furniture to spruce up your place, interact with other citizens of your town, and even attend local events such as 4th of July or New Year's.
Although Animal Crossing has no end goal the game keeps the player occupied by providing a number of activites to immerse themselves in. Perhaps the player's primary occupation is home improvement: when starting out in Animal Crossing the player has a sparsly decorated one-level house which they are tasked with improving. Everything from the color of the roof to the carpet can be customized, and the house will be the recepticle for the many and various objects the player will collect. There is an aspect of challenge in this area of the game as the player's house is assessed every Sunday by the Happy Room Academy.
Even after you finish paying off Tom Nook, there are still a wide variety of things to do. Time in Animal Crossing progresses much like the real world. If you're gone for a long time, your friends and acquaintances will move away or wonder where you've been. Cockroaches will start running around your house and the only way to get rid of them is to run over them. There are thousands of ways to customize your house and Feng Shui it in order to give it a certain vibe. The Happy Room Academy (HRA) will look at your house and send you a letter detailing how well they think you've done with your house and will allocate points to you based on if you set up certain rooms in sets. They do not, however, judge your basement, as that serves mainly for storage and miscellaneous belongings.
Tom Nook's store has a wide variety of items to purchase, and you can even sell your belongings for some extra cash if you desperately need it. He'll even offer you a catalog to purchase items from if you've already owned them, and he'll send them to you the very next day. There is a certain limit on how many items you can pre-order, but you can always come back the next day and order some more items.
Around town, there are always events during the holiday's to keep oneself occupied. Every year around Christmas, you'll find a reindeer walking around offering presents based on the type of clothing you are wearing. If you are wearing some nice, suitable clothing, he'll offer you a nice gift for yourself or your house. During Halloween, your friends will dress up and go Trick or Treating. During the 4th of July, you can find all of the villagers in your town gathered around the local pond to watch the fireworks, and you'll even see a concession stand in which you can purchase props and other event related materials.
A bulletin board in the middle of town allows you to read up on the latest events and findings in the town. Whether someone buried something in a certain acre for you to find, or an aerobic class is starting up at 9 A.M. on Saturday, Animal Crossing offers multiple activities for your character to participate in. Every Saturday, K.K. Slider will show up and play you a few songs on his guitar. If you request a song he wrote, he'll play it for you and give you the tune to add to your radio player at home.
Around town you'll find various holes in the ground which prompt you to dig up whatever's stuck under there. You can usually find furniture (which come in the form of leaves and eventually sprout in your house), you can also find fossils that you can send to the local museum and donate prehistoric bones and such. Oddly enough, you can find shirts to wear or take to the local tailor and have it modified.
You're also able to create designs to put on your door or take the to tailor and have it placed on a shirt. You can go to the local post office and send letters to family and friends or withdraw and deposit cash. Next to the post office is a little bulletin board that you can adjust to play a certain tune. This tune can then be heard among the town whenever talking to people or when entering Tom Nook's Store. Different iterations will be played for different people. For example, when talking to a cheery person, you'll get a soft, upbeat melody. When talking to a more pessimistic character, you'll be greeted with a dark, ominous interpretation of your song.
Fishing is also quite popular, and anything you catch can then be donated to the local museum and put up on display. You can also connect your Game Boy to unlock a secret island in which you can collect rare fruits and even customize your own little home away from home. Bug catching is also quite popular, and those too can be donated to the museum. If you don't feel like donating to the museum, you can have bugs or fish as pets in your home as well.
Every month you purchase something from Tom Nook, you'll get a raffle ticket for that month's drawing. Five tickets gets you a chance to win a prize at Tom Nook's store on the last day of the month. He'll usually put up rare items not normally found in his store or around the city, and it'll definitely help increase your score with the HRA.
If you've lost something of certain importance, chances are it'll either be in the dump, or in the police station. The police station usually has things found laying around and you can go claim them, since the obese watchdog inside has a hard time following you around in the same fashion as Tom Nook. The watchdog on the outside of the station is more fit, and offers aerobic classes every Saturday. He'll even give you some hints and tips around town and where to find neat items to dig up.
- Animal Crossing puts a large onus on you saving your game progress correctly. If you turn off your console or DS without saving, you'll get a visit from Mr. Resetti, a mole mobster with bipolar anger issues. He'll threaten to erase your town data if you test his patience enough times, though it's revealed to just be a fake-out. He never actually erases your game or imposes any lasting consequence for resetting in your own town. If you visit another player's town and fail to save, however, your character will temporarily have a Gyroid-like face upon returning to your own town, and your inventory will be lost.
- Katrina the Gypsy divines your fortune making the sounds that the fortune tellers make in the Legend of Zelda series.
- Nintendo's slogan for Animal Crossing on the Gamecube was: "The clock is always ticking, whether you're there or not." It referred to the "real-time" time tracking concept that the game used to keep events rolling and new things happening in game. Time passed in game as it does in real-life.
- Once the title screen on the GameCube game is loaded, the rest of the game can be played without the disc. The entire game is loaded into the system's temporary memory at the beginning.