This game has had 2 or 3 different titles since it's been released in Japan, including Animal Forest, Animal Forest Plus, and finally the final name chosen for the US release, Animal Crossing. This title was released on the N64 before it was eventually re-done and released on the Gamecube, however it was one of those Japan only exclusives that caused gamers who don’t import to cry out in despair.
On a first glance, the game may look kiddy, girly, dumb, etc., however once the speed limit hits 60, Animal Crossing turns into more of a strong addiction than it does anything else. Anyway, when you start the game up, you’ll see your character with horns protruding out of his head hopping on a train, and finding a seat. Not long after you’re seated, a little fellow named Rover(a dog) will start to talk to you, and this is where you’ll get all your Animal Crossing data set-up, which includes what YOUR name is(which can be anything less than 8 letters), what your town’s going to be called(again, a maximum of 8 letters), what the current time is, and also what the current date is. After about a 5 minute basic little tutorial, you’ll get off the train and meet up with the owner of the Village general store, who will set you up. You have a choice between 4 different houses with different colored roofs, however aside from the different floor plans(one has wood, the other metal plates, etc.), they’re all the same and are all tiny in size. So when you choose your house you’ll be asked if you want that one, and so you’ll pay for it and... UH OH, you’re about 17,000 somethin’ dollars short for your house, so now you get to find out how to work your debt off on your house.
Animal Crossing takes place in REAL TIME, which is counted by your Gamecube’s internal clock, so if it’s Saturday August 2, 2003 and it’s 2:30 pm...then that’s what day/month/date/year/time it’s going to be in Animal Crossing. In a literal sense, Animal Crossing has no story and therefore pretty much never ends. Anyway, when you’re first starting out the game, you’ll be in debt from your house, so you’ll do different “jobs” for Tom Nook(the owner of the General Store) to make money, and eventually you’ll get enough money to pay off your debt and you can be happy with your little house.
Speaking of moving into a new house, you’re sure to have neighbors right? Of course, and this town/village is no different. The town is split up into a sort of grid style placement, where you’ve got Acre/Grid A-1, B-1, C-1, etc. and when you’re actually moving, the screen will move with you until you come to the next grid line, where the screen will pause so it can switch over to the next grid, which is sort of like how the old Zelda games on NES-SNES were like. Your town consists of the basics; a few villagers, police station, museum, general store, dump, train station, and of course a Post Office where you can send letters to other people like your neighbors. Neighbors are randomly generated when you create a game, so some people will have different neighbours placed in different areas of their town, and could also have as few as 4 or as many as 7 from the start. Your neighbors are, like the title of the game, short little stubby representations of different animals including cats, cows, rabbits, dogs, frogs, bears, and a variety of other animals. These will be your neighbors throughout the game, and they can either hate you, or they can love you, it all depends on how you treat them.
In order to befriend your neighbors(or de-friend if you wanna be a bully) you’ll have to run errands for them, which most of the time includes going over to someone's house to get something, and return it back to them. Other errands may have you get something to eat for them, or even catching a fish for one of your neighbor’s niece so your neighbor doesn’t get into deep trouble for not catching his niece a fish. Whenever you complete an errand, you’ll be rewarded in a variety of ways which includes the Animal Crossing currency, Bells, and also different articles of clothing, stationary paper, and other little items. So in other words, in order to make friends with your neighbors you must respect them like you would someone in real life. But you if you want to be a bully and don’t like your neighbor, you can disrespect them and get them to not like you so they’ll hopefully move out or something. So basically, Animal Crossing is a life inside a life. You basically have total control over everything you do, including what kind of clothes you wear!
After you pay off your home, then it’s yours right? Well, so how about modeling it the way you want. Your house will have a mail box, which you will actually receive mail like on your birthday, you’ll receive letters wishing you a happy birthday, and some may even have a gift with them; or if you mailed someone like your neighbor in grid B-4, they’ll most likely mail you back. Another way to befriend your neighbors is to write them letters, mail it to them, and even include some type of gift with it such as a little piece of fruit and they’ll probably reply back with an even better gift. Anyway, on the other side of your front door, you’ve got your own personal Gyroid, which looks like a small little brown cactus. Your Gyroid can be used to store items(up to four), set a message for anyone who comes to your door, save, and do other various “nifty” things. Whatever items you store in it, you can either set them to display so no one can take or buy them, however you can also make somewhat of a profit by setting a price on any of the items that you want to sell. Now IN your house, you’ll receive different items MANY different ways in the game, however getting some of them can be very tricky. You can adjust the inside of your house to any of your likings, including what kind of flooring you want to use, and even what kind of wallpaper you use. When you first start the game your room is going to be pretty bare, but once you start rollin’ and acquire more and more items, then you can fill your house up pretty fast with TVs, stereos, dressers, tables, and other little home decorations to add a little festivity to your house. Also if you think your house is too small, you can go to Tom Nook’s shop and have him widen out your house, or even add a basement, which is a really good place for storage.
You’ll only be able to carry a certain amount of items at one time though, and although you may not think you’ll use all those slots at the same time, however the main way that you’ll earn any money(Bells) is by collecting insects, fish, and shells that you catch and find on the beach, and each individual item takes up one item slot, so you’ll have to go and get rid of all the items that you filled you inventory with somehow, and then come back and continue what you were doing. So anyway, since Animal Crossing does take place in real time, that’s the major real downfall to the game because some people may not be able to play on certain days, therefore not being able to participate in an event that happened that day. Also there are certain days where different events will take place where you can receive rare items that you can’t find anywhere else. Of course a solution to this problem is to mess around with the internal clock to fast forward or rewind to the day or season where a certain even happens that you want to participate in or something like that. Speaking of seasons, again since ANIMAL CROSSING is played in real time, as it changes seasons where you live, the season will be changing in the game also, and with each season comes different environments. In the summer, trees are green, people are outside doing things, and everything’s green and plentiful. Once it turns into fall or Autumn, trees will start to change color, and leaves will start to cover the ground. Spring means new plants, and fresh air, so Spring is going to basically look like Summer did, although since it’s literally Spring in real life, it’ll feel like it in the game also. Now for winter, because the whole town is covered in snow, and there are actually Christmas lights up all over town. Nice touch Nintendo.
If you get bored of paying off house debts and playing caddy shack by running errands for the town, you can go kick back and do a little fishing, or even run around and catch different insects( depending on the time of day and season). Of course if you get as bored, then you can go around and shake all the trees, and when a bee hive falls down, see if you can out run the bees without getting stung. I’m currently 0/13 on trying to outrun the bees, and one of your eye’s actually gets swollen, so when you talk to people they’ll be like “Whoa!” and stuff like that, and then they’ll say a whole bunch of stupid crap like “You know if you get chased by bees you should RUN!” or “You should go inside!” and common sense stuff like that. Animal Crossing involves a ton of interacting, whether it be with your neighbors, or going fishing, or going bug hunting, or donating items to the museum, and basically living a second virtual life apart from your real life.
Now for item trading, which aside from playing old NES games, is the most interesting part of this game. No Animal Crossing isn’t online, but you can trade with someone from Chicago if you like, however you have to have a little bit of information in order to do this. What you’ll do, is whatever item you’re going to trade to that person, you’ll go to Tom Nook in order to set up that item with it’s own specific password, and you’ll give that password to whoever you’re wanting to trade with, along with what your name is and what the name of your town is. The other person will do the same, and will give you the password to his/her item that you’re going to receive. Once you receive the password to the person’s item that you’re going to receive, you’ll go to Tom Nook and ask to receive an item, and you’ll put in the code that your buddy gave you, and if it’s right you’ll receive that item. What happens is that when the password is made up for whatever item you’re going to receive, when you enter that password, the game will generate that item from the given password, and there you have it. So I’m guessing that so someone can’t just put in a password and receive someone’s item, there are millions or thousands of codes using a mixture of numbers, symbols, and lower case and uppercase letters.