TakeN Out of Gaming | Issue 5: Animal Crossing

By Shane Jury 23.12.2011 4

Yes indeed, that one click has brought you here, to December’s edition of TakeN Out of Gaming! For this festive month of gift giving and family celebrations, we look at one of Nintendo’s most diverse franchises that also acknowledges the occasion in its own way. A series that takes some of the more mundane activities of everyday life like house decoration and makes them not only tolerable, but addictive too. It began life in Japan as a lesser known experiment entitled Animal Forest, but has grown into a huge system pusher for the expanded range of players on both Wii and DS, and it’s likely to do so again to entice more 3DS purchases next year. Under the scope this month is Animal Crossing.


Each edition of the Animal Crossing series thus far has brought with it a similar basic visual style, regardless of the host hardware’s processing ability, and this can be traced back to the first game of the series, Animal Forest. This game saw release on the Nintendo 64, and was sadly overlooked at the time as a candidate for translation and sale overseas, largely because of the somewhat niche appeal the game held as what was practically a chore simulator, and the upcoming GameCube tech that Nintendo were busying themselves with. For this new machine, Nintendo decided to give the game a spruce up with a cleaner look and more features for release on the new hardware. Again, it remained Japan exclusive, until select publications and groups of gamers in the Western Hemisphere got wind of the game and its unique premise. After many positive hands-on impressions and general hype, the petitions and call outs to Nintendo began, and after two years they were answered, with a translation and release overseas of the GameCube version.

After successfully targeting the people outside of gaming circles with DS’ unique brand of virtual pet and brain stimulating software, Nintendo aimed Animal Crossing towards a similar market, with a focus on easy control access and internet connectivity, allowing friends to visit each other’s towns not only when near but from afar too. The same happened on Wii, with the Wii Speak peripheral and new city locale providing the crowds more reasons to play the series. A Wii U version is inevitable, and with the 3DS game shown looking to provide the biggest alteration in the series to date, it will be intriguing to see whether Nintendo play it safe like before or introduce a new mechanic that changes the foundation of the whole game.

Other Mediums

When Animal Crossing hit the big time on Wii and DS, Nintendo naturally decided to cash in with some merchandise to stick on shop shelves and sell online. One of the most likely when taking the basic visual style of the series into consideration was always going to be plush toys. Smaller keychain-sized ones with sound and full-sized plushies, mainly provided by toy company Tomy, were made.


In selected regions Club Nintendo has seen a vast range of memorabilia based on the games, including ringtone soundbites and, in a nod to Nintendo’s production history, playing cards.


Animal Crossing’s most obvious outside feature, though, would undoubtedly be the animé movie tie-in: Dōbutsu no Mori, or Animal Forest: The Movie. It followed the plotline of the games in introducing a human character to a village with familiar inhabitants like Mr Resetti and Tom Nook. The film took a modest amount of money at the Japanese box office, but insufficient demand meant it has not been dubbed and sent overseas.


Future Possibilities

For the gaming side of things, Nintendo could give a big kick up the butt to all those wanting a massively multiplayer online version of Pokémon, and instead make Animal Crossing into one. Instead of one resident player going about their merry way in a town at any one time, make it a dozen: work together to catch fish, or plant an orchid of apple trees, or even renovate the homes of others. Make connectivity with the console’s input data even stronger; actual weather in your location could be replicated in your game world, shops in the game could hold sales events near holidays as in the real world, and music tracks stored on your console’s memory could be played through the radio of your virtual home.

Aside from the Club Nintendo items and the merchandise sold in dedicated gaming shops like GAME and Gamestation, Animal Crossing hasn’t yet gained strong brand awareness in the vein of say, Mario or Pikachu. Playing to the strengths of the franchise’s lead characters could change this.

Take Tom Nook for example. Your character’s first employer when he or she arrives in their new town, the tanuki’s tendency for squeezing huge sums of money out of you could be put to use to help you save real cash instead in the form of a piggy bank -- but with a key difference...


Imagine this, but far smaller and with a coin slot on top (the bottle is a size reference). You can probably guess where the container would go.

You’d put money in like any regular piggy bank, but the doll would be set to a time and date, with a voice message declaring out loud whether you’d forgotten to pay any money in at a schedule you’d programmed earlier. An inbuilt safe-like container would then lock you out of accessing all the money you had put in so far, until you had repaid what you ‘owed’ up to that point. True, this would be more infuriating than helpful to all but the stingiest savers, but it would certainly be a unique product.

As would a stressball-like spherical crush-toy based on Mr Resetti.


This is one time where the picture speaks for itself.

All those times when the mole miner burst out of the ground to reprimand you for ‘accidentally’ turning off your game without saving (repeatedly, to see if he really would erase your game) can now be avenged in your most stressful moments by crushing his shouting face inwards with a strong grip. Any object where the highest satisfaction is obtained by obliterating it could be enhanced by Mr Resetti’s portrait, but this one would get the most usage and last the longest.

Nintendo still have a ways to go with the Animal Crossing brand with both gaming potential and marketing appeal, but the continued strong sales of the latest releases shows there is an eager fanbase willing to let this happen. How would you like to see the animal villages expand?

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Comments

ACMEG (guest) 24.12.2011#1

animal crossing is brilliant you should make more toys etc... sale prices would go through the roof

Josh (guest) 30.12.2011#2

Meh... Animal Crossing shouldn't become a series built upon the toys and trinkets around it. We already say what the eReader attachment did for the gamecube version and games like Spyro for the 3DS just don't make profit.

I believe a game is good by the effert the developer makes in the game. I can understand those AR cards, but not toys like these...

Animal Crossing Fan (guest) 14.02.2012#3

I am obsessed with Animal Crossing! I really want to see the movie but I can't find one that's got either English subtitles or in English!

SmilieSmilieSmilieSmilieSmilie

animalcrossinglover (guest) 26.03.2012#4

awesome how much for the toy ressettiyour text hereSmilieSmilieSmilie

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