Review by Sportsman

"A job that doesn't pay"

Animal Crossing was first announced for the Nintendo 64, but it wound up being cancelled and was later released on the Gamecube (it WAS released on the N64 in Japan). So while the Japanese were playing Animal Crossing on their Nintendo 64's, gamers from everywhere but Japan were trying to figure out exactly what it is. Nintendo said Animal Crossing deserves in a genre of its own; it's a life simulator with RPG elements with hidden NES games. Now since Animal Crossing is finally out, we can find out exactly what Animal Crossing is. Animal Crossing DOES NOT deserve a genre of its own; it is a life simulator,and that's it. You live in a town inhabited by animals (you're the only human O_o). You can decorate your house, buy new clothing and furniture from a store, play hidden NES games and much more.

Animal Crossing begins with you, a young boy or girl (your choice) on a train moving to a new town. Unfortunately you don't have a place to live, and about 1/20 of the money required to buy a house (really smart). Luckily on the train you meet a cat-like creature named Rover who is friends with Tom Nook (the landlord) and willing to hook you up with a place to stay. After laughing at you, Nook agrees to loan you the house. Nook asks you to pay off the debt, but luckily Nook doesn't care when the debt is paid off and encourages you to take your time. So if you see something you like at Nook's shop, or if one of the villagers are offering to sell you something that you want, don't be afraid to make the purchase.

Animal Crossing runs on Gamecube's internal clock. So it's bright outside during the day, but as the night approaches, it gets darker. During the summer, mosquitoes will come out at night. Tom Nook's store opens and closes at a certain time. The real-time clock is put to great use, and this is the future of video games.

Getting money in Animal Crossing is very easy and simple. There is so many possible ways to become rich. Why don't you catch fish and sell them to Nook? Why don't you try shaking trees? Maybe you'll get lucky, maybe you'll knock down a bee's nest and get stung. Do you have any items you don't need? Why don't you try selling them? Dig up any fossils? Why don't you send them to the museum to get them appraised? The ways to earn money seem almost endless.

Besides the buying, selling and paying back your debts, you can also decorate your house. Every day your house will be rated on how good it is, so if you put all of your stationary and items right in the middle of the floor, they will give you a low score and tell you that your house looks like a warehouse. It's a good idea to take your time and try to see which combinations work the best. The higher your score is, the more people will want to move into your village.

So far Animal Crossing sounds like a pretty cool game, right? Animal Crossing suffers in a few key areas that keep it from being a good game – one major flaw, which I'll talk about now, is repetition. Every day, you walk do the same things. You'll walk around, dig up fossils, shop at Nook's store, fish, check the dump and lost and found for items, mail letters, rearrange your furniture, and maybe play a couple NES games. Repeat the next day. Most people play video games for enjoyment. You won't be playing Animal Crossing for enjoyment - you will be playing it because you feel obliged to do so and it's the only thing you can do.

The second major flaw is that you have to play EVERY DAY in order to fulfill your experience and discover everything. For example, maybe you're waiting for a rare item. The person who sells it may only come on a day that you can't play. Now you have to wait until that person comes again, whenever that may be. The items at Tom Nook's store appear at random. So you may be waiting for him to sell a “Super Deluxe TV” (yes, I made that up). It may appear in his store the next day, or it may appear in his store in 2 years. Another annoying feature is the large amount of weeds. They grow in your town daily, and if you don't play every day to get rid of they will proliferate and eventually your neighbors will become furious and threaten to move to another town.

Another problem is the neighbors. The neighbors aren't the neighbors that you would want to have (besides the fact that they're animals and you're a human duh). Unfortunately most of your neighbors aren't very social, they won't want to spend any more than 10 seconds talking to you. They are very intractable; if they don't get their own ways they become furious. Another way to piss them off is if you don't. buy goods from them, don't write letters to them, or don't talk to them for a week. Once someone asked me to plant flowers in front of their house. At the moment I was low on cash and I couldn't waste my money on flowers, so I never did it. The next day… GONE! The freakin animal moved! I don't know if it was a coincidence or if it was done out of spite because I didn't plant the flowers, but whatever the reason was, the animal moved, and never returned.

Unlike most life simulators, there is no character development. Your looks won't change over time, your town won't change, and none of your neighbors will. Some will move in or move out over time, but that's about it. This isn't a big problem compared to the previous two I mentioned, but character development would have made Animal Crossing a lot better.

There are many more features, but most likely they won't keep you occupied for long. You can make your own patterns on your clothing. You can write letters to your neighbors, but after a few letters I got frustrated and gave up. If a kindergartener can't interpret your letter your neighbors most likely won't either. You will receive a reply from the recipient asking you to stop sending him/her weird letters. You can also post letters on the bulletin board. This is pointless, since none of the villagers read it and if you post something you don't like, you can't take it down. Now you have to wait until the game decides it has served its time on the board, which is usually WEEKS. You can also change the town's theme song. If the song isn't changed for a while your neighbors will ask you to change it. Don't worry, the game isn't expecting you to be the next Beethoven or Mozart. You can make anything up and get away with it.

Since Animal Crossing is a life simulator it never ends. It ends when you don't want to play anymore. But since all you do is walk around looking for money and buying goods from Nook, you will want to stop playing after a couple of days. Luckily Nintendo put hidden NES games in Animal Crossing. I spent some time playing these, but unfortunately you have to search for them, and they randomly appear just as any item would. Every once in a while you'll find one buried underground, but what games you find are completely random. So you may search for a game that you want and never find it. You can trade items with other people by exchanging passwords, which is a pretty cool feature. You can also have up to 4 people move into your town (including yourself). Unfortunately you can only play one at a time. Animal Crossing is loaded with replay value, but the big question is whether or not you will want to invest the time into it.

The graphics in Animal Crossing are just as boring as the game itself. They were ported directly from the N64 version with only minor changes. The graphics are made up of simple colored shapes. Different items are distinguishable, but they all lack detail. Although the graphics are boring there are some good points. For example, if you're out a lot in the summer, you'll get a tan. If a bee stings you, you'll notice a lump covering one of your eyes. The framerate is smooth, and the graphics are clear. The boring textures and bad artwork give Animal Crossing a very kiddy feel.

The sound is just as outdated as the graphics. The music sounds the same as the N64 version, which sounds like a Super Nintendo or Game Boy Advance game. There's a great variety of music (a song for every hour of the day), but none of the songs are anything great. They aren't horrible, but if you don't play for a week you will most likely forget all of the songs. The sound affects are decent, but nothing special. You will hear your door creek as you walk in or leave your house, you will hear your footsteps and much more. The animal's voices are terrible. There are hundreds of different animals that you could have as neighbors, but there are only three possible voices that they will have.

The best word to describe Animal Crossing would be incomplete. If Nintendo added more variety of what you could do Animal Crossing would be a great game. After a couple of days you will do everything that the game has to offer, so your only option is to do it all over. So playing Animal Crossing is like having a virtual job. I'd much rather have a real job than a virtual job; at least I'm getting something (money) in return. So if you enjoy life simulators, I suggest you to rent Animal Crossing; you'll enjoy it for the couple of days you have it. But DO NOT BUY, because after a couple days playing Animal Crossing will become a chore. Overall Animal Crossing does a lot of things right, much more than it does wrong. Unfortunately, the areas it misses in are the areas that matter the most.

RECAP

Story 4/10- Not enough detail is given about the story. You know the basics, and that's it.
Graphics 6/10- There are some nice effects, but Animal Crossing looks more like an N64 game than a Gamecube game.
Sound 5/10- A great variety but dated sound affects and music. Voice acting is poor.
Gameplay 4/10-Fun at first, but repetition makes playing Animal Crossing a chore. You might as well get a real job.
Replay Value 3/10- Plenty to do, but why would you want to do it?

+
Fun at first
Great use of Gamecube clock

-
Playing AC becomes a chore
Dated graphics and sound
Very repetitive
There's so much better stuff to do with your time

???
All the animals wear shirts, but why don't they wear pants?

OVERALL: 4.4/10


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 07/14/03, Updated 06/10/05


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