I’m not a huge video game person. I didn’t play them as a child, and to be honest, I’m not very good at most of them. There is one exception, though, and my love-affair with the Animal Crossing franchise has been going strong for almost 16 years!
The first Animal Crossing game came out for the Nintendo GameCube in September 2002, and I’m pretty sure Ryan picked it up fairly soon after its release. We were still practically newlyweds at that point, and I remember sitting in the tiny living room of our first apartment and playing the game. We each had a character in our shared town, and we were in a race to see who could pay off all their debts to Tom Nook first, and have a golden statue erected in their honor in the center of town. I won.
Next up was Animal Crossing: Wild World, which came out in 2005 for the Nintendo DS. Some new features were introduced in that game, but it was always a little frustrating to play, because the graphics on the DS were still not great. That was one of the first video games the children played, and I really enjoyed sharing the world of Animal Crossing with them.
In 2008, Animal Crossing: City Folk came to the Nintendo Wii, and we all had so much fun with that game! Watching me play on the TV helped Turkey and Bunny improve their reading skills, and we all looked forward to the festival events, especially when we got to help Franklin steal all the cutlery from the townsfolk on Thanksgiving!
Animal Crossing: New Leaf was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013, and Chickadee used to sit in my lap when she was tiny and watch me interact with my animal neighbors in the new role of town mayor. This game had none of the problems that Wild World did, and I loved playing it so much that I don’t want to know how many hours I spent on it!
In 2015, two spin-off games were added to the Animal Crossing family. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (also for the 3DS) allowed you to build a commercial area and design homes for all the familiar animals. It was a much more detailed game than I had expected! Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival for the Nintendo Wii U was kind of like Mario Party, and also allowed you to use amiibo figures (we have ALL the Animal Crossing ones!), while playing. After you played it a few times, there wasn’t much new to discover, but we enjoyed playing it as a family.
And that brings us to last year’s Animal Crossing release…the mobile Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. I actually really love the game, even though I was initially certain it would be a disappointment. It’s fun to get to interact with all the familiar faces from the previous games, and the special events are fun and interesting. It’s still not a full Animal Crossing game, though, and I’m always waiting for the news that a new game for some console (probably the Nintendo Switch?) is on the way…I hope I won’t have to wait forever!
I think part of what I love about the Animal Crossing games is how happy and chill they are. The greatest threat (other than Tom Nook taking all your money, which is why “Tom Nook is a crook!” is an oft-repeated mantra around here), is running into a tarantula or scorpion after dark, and even then, the worst they can do is send you back to your home. Maybe Mr. Resetti is a little scary, too, but that’s pretty much just because he’s unexpected. But everything else is just so nice…getting to know the personalities of all the animals in town (I’ve created backstories for many of them!), completing tasks, building public works projects, going fishing and bug hunting. It’s the perfect escape from the real world, and I look forward to visiting with my animal friends every time I play!