You’re old enough to gain independence, get onto a train and move into your own place. It’s time to take on your own responsibly and new friends. On your train ride to a small, remote village Rover the cat finds out more about your situation and contacts the Town’s go-to guy, Mr. Tom Nook.
The game’s premise is simple. Have fun. Unlike a conventional RPG Animal Crossing doesn’t force you to take on side missions, your outcome is up to you. Events occur in real time through the GameCube’s internal clock, this allows for both day and night time activities, as well as seasonal changes and special day events such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day.
You start off your life in your new home in a bit of debt. This is what happens when you arrive in a town with only enough money to buy an odd piece of furniture. During the beginning stages of your life in the new town you get a part-time job at Nook’s Cranny. This allows you to help pay off your mortgage by making the odd delivery and meeting the diverse residents of the town. As you accumulate various different items you pay off your debt, upgrade your home, get into more debt and so the cycle continues (You know, just like real life). Keeping in touch with the local town folk will keep you in the loop as to when special activities or sales will be available. Some of these special events will only run for a few hours at a time so best you make a plan to be in front of your TV screen at the given time.
While communication is a large part of the gameplay, collecting items is far more important. You are able to collect a number of different collectables including Paint, Clothing ,Umbrellas ,Tools ,Seeds ,Trees, Furniture, Medicine ,Mail ,Flooring, Wallpaper, Insects, Fruit, Fish, Fossils, and even Gyroids (essentially a dancing, musical cactus). Once you’ve acquired your fishing rod, axe, net and shovel a whole lot of new collectables become available. Whether it be collecting rare fish or butterflies at a certain time of the year or donating fossils to the local museum, there is always something that will keep you busy.
If you have a Game Boy Advance and a link cable you’ll have access to portable version of the pattern design tool from the pattern shop. It also unlocks the ability to visit an island with Kapp’n the jolly, turtle pirate. On the island you will have access to a number of unique fish and bugs. The best feature of the GBA link is the fact that you have access to a number of NES titles that can be unlocked.
Animal Crossing was originally released in Japan as ‘Animal Forest +’, it was a sequel to the Nintendo 64 title, Animal Forest. Animal Forest + was also intended to be released on the Nintendo 64, but as the GameCube neared release the development team decided to change platforms. Taking this into consideration the game runs ridiculously smoothly as the Gamcube has ample spare processing power. The games art style is very simplistic but there are moments, especially with some character designs and general textures that fall short considering the Gamecube’s potential.
The activities in Animal Crossing are just as plentiful as what they are addictive. Sure the tasks aren’t challenging and to a large extent rely on luck but this doesn’t overshadow the feeling of finally acquiring that elusive item in your inventory. If you are after a change of pace and are willing to be completely consumed by very simplistic gameplay, be sure to pick up this charming RPG-like, life sim.