Animal Crossing is a life simulation game developed by Nintendo EAD and published by Nintendo. It was released for the Nintendo GameCube and is the second game of the Animal Crossing series (and is the first released outside of Japan).
When the game begins, the player's character is seen sitting on the train, a cat named Rover walks up to you and asks to sit down. At this point, the player can either be nice or mean, however, he will sit down either way. Rover asks the player basic questions, such as their name and where they are going. Depending on how the player answers the questions, their character will turn out different. Eventually, Rover will make a phone call and set up housing for the player and is told to meet him when he gets there. When the player arrives at their destination, he/she leave the train station and is greeted by Tom Nook, a local shop owner. He mentions that they just got a fresh shipment of new houses, and the player can choose whichever one he/she would like.
After exploring each house, the player makes their decision by talking to Tom Nook, who in return gives a basic tutorial on basic features and customization. After he explains everything, mentions the cost of the house, 18,500 bells. The player only has 1,000 Bells on hand, and Tom Nook laughs as the small amount. In order to pay of the debt, Tom Nook offers the player a temporary job at his store. After making a few deliveries and PSAs, the player becomes free from working at the store, however, is still several thousand bells in debt. At this point, the player is free to do whatever they want.
Animal Crossing had over two hundred characters, but only a few of them lived in anybody's town at any given time. The characters were all built off the same amazing AI engine. They had the ability to (somewhat) interpret letters you wrote to them, and you could build relationships with each one. Each character had a house designed to their personality as well as his or her own buzzword or catchphrase that they'd say a lot. There was also a cool setting that let the characters 'speak' what they were saying as 'Animalese', which was sort of a language. It basically replaced the standard beep of text being printed on screen with the sound of that letter, and the sound was made high or low depending on the character.
Animal Crossing took much of its gameplay from the time and date set on the GameCube's internal clock. The town would change from hour to hour, day to day, season to season. It really takes at least a year to appreciate the game in its entirety. Every day something new happens in the town and there are always new things to see and do. Certain days of the week would provide unique opportunities, like the ability to buy and sell turnips, or acquire new songs from KK Slider. Certain days of the year, like holidays, had special events that would happen. For example, on Halloween you could buy candy and go trick-or-treating. There would often be scheduled events like competitions or races.
Animal Crossing was literally all kinds of awesome. As if the real time endless game thing wasn't cool enough, you could trade items with people over the Internet. A password system let people trade and send gifts to each other. You could send a gift by typing in the name and town of the person you were sending it to (like an address) and then you'd get a password. If the person you were sending the gift to (or anyone who happened to have the same name and town name) used the password, they would receive the gift.
There was also a (less used) system that let you visit other people's towns by putting two memory cards in at the same time. This was great, because you could pick all the fruit in your friends town and take it home, where you could sell it for a much higher price. Each town had its own kind of fruit, and different towns had different fruits. Foreign fruits sold for more than native fruits. The community feature could let you plant exotic trees in your own personal orchard and harvest them daily to earn money. This money would then fuel your endless vanity and allow you to decorate your house with all kinds of awesome junk.
Arguably, the only flaw in this game was the strong community features but lack of real time online interaction. Luckily, this has been done away with in the sequel, Animal Crossing Wild World.
One of the major downfalls of Animal Crossing, or rather, a player of Animal Crossing, was the ease and availability of cheating. Changing the GameCube clock is a snap, so it was simple to trick the game and experience upcoming events now instead of waiting for them. You could also do something with negative consequences, such as turning a cool item into a password, and then reset the game, so you still have the password and the object.
However, there were draw backs to doing this. If you accidentally set your clock for, say, yesterday, your town will have aged a year (minus one day) and there's nothing you can do about it. Also, if you tried the reset trick, Mr. Resetti would give you a long, long, long lecture on cheating, ethics, your resetting matters, and how kids are so lazy now-a-days. Also, if you've reset enough, he will negatively alter gameplay by removing most of the town's citizens for one week. These citizens, after returning, will then constantly stay away from you and scold you if you manage to talk to them; such alteration continues for one month.
- Animal Crossing is a port of the Nintendo 64 version that was released in Japan (Animal Forest), and as such, the game file itself is very small. In fact, the entire game is loaded into memory from the very start of the game. One can open the disc cover and take out the Animal Crossing disc while playing the game without experiencing any gameplay issues. Because of this, there is no loading time other than at the beginning of the game.
- However, a town save file is so massive that the game actually comes with a free memory card 59 at retail that has a special Animal Crossing Sticker depicting Rover and a special green background.