Animal Crossing (GameCube) Second Opinion Review

By Adam Riley 12.09.2004

Review for Animal Crossing on GameCube

Nintendo is famous for delaying its games over the years, but the furore that surrounded Animal Crossing has been extreme due to the immense wait that has had to be endured. Starting out as Animal Forest on the N64 in Japan, it has now taken nearly four years for the game to be renamed as Animal Crossing, for it to make the transition to the GameCube and eventually traverse the ocean to Europe. But does the title still retain enough appeal to warrant your attention? Read on...

The premise of the games, as with most of the rest of it as this review will highlight as you read on, is rather simple. You start off as either a boy or girl that has just begun a journey to a place that you name yourself in order to commence a new life and get away from everything else. On your way you meet a friendly dog with a guitar that puts you in contact with a property owner who agrees to lease you a home. The only drawback is that upon arrival it is discovered that you do not have enough cash and must take out a massive mortgage, paying it back by working at the shop of your home's owner. And thus Animal Crossing begins...

Screenshot for Animal Crossing on GameCube

There is not too much wrong with the graphics found in Animal Crossing, but right from the start you will be able to tell that this originated from the latter days of the N64. All the characters withing are strange, deformed models that are supposed to create a family-orientated atmosphere all round. Animation is smooth, but somewhat limited overall as there are not too many actions for your character to carry out in all honesty - just walking, picking things up, and so on. The surroundings, however, have definitely been spruced up sufficiently will, with bright, colourful buildings and locales, lushous grass, glistening water and little touches that are generally associated with Nintendo titles. Everything falls under the 'nice' category, but nothing more than that, unfortunately. A little tip is to avoid playing titles such as Metroid Prime near the time you feel like picking up AC!

Some of you might think that the music in-game is rather weak and, like the graphics, totally out-dated. Well, true, the samples are reminiscent of not the N64 days, but back when the SNES was around! However, the ditties that play in the background never really grow old as they are so pleasant, the tunes that are played by your friendly guitar-wielding canine range from techno stylings to general rock and even some cheesy country songs. And yes, songs with lyrics...admittedly robotic-like lyrics since none of the creatures talk in English, rather 'Animalese' (read: jibberish). But none of this is bad, as such, as this is what Nintendo was aiming for.

Screenshot for Animal Crossing on GameCube

The gameplay of Animal Crossing will strike you down most likely. Listening to people talk about this wonderful game that has been knocking about since the days of the Nintendo 64, you may sit there and wonder just what all the fuss is about. But, as with Natsume's Harvest Moon farming simulation, AC is one of those unusual videogames that honestly cannot be fully appreciated until you actually sit down, lay your hands on it and let yourself become fully absorbed into what appears to be an online-orientated game stuck in the confines of the strictly offline (might as well be) GameCube. This is one of Shigeru Miyamoto's babies, you must remember, so whilst initially quirky you know it has to be good!

Trying to describe the actual innards of the game can easily deter gamers from making a purchase. Telling folks about how all you do is start working in your landlord's shop, trying to pay off your large debt by completing what seem like menial chores and then realising that other money-making methods need to be hastily planned out, as not enough funding can come from one source, so doing favours for neighbours, collecting fruit by shaking trees; or snatching poor defenceless fish from the nearby streams in order to reach the correct monetary amount must be carried out, all comes across as the perfect atmosphere for an experience that can become quite stagnant over time...That is, you may be surprised to hear, true to some extent. Extended periods of Animal Crossing, wandering around aimlessly can become tedious. But the game is not made for long, exhaustive play in a short time, rather quick bursts over many, many months!

That is the charm of this title, the first in the newly devised communication videogame genre. Whereas Harvest Moon can grow tiresome from its repetitive daily tasks, AC adopts a policy of 'slowly, but surely', with lots of variety thrown in to ensure freshness throughout. Life in the forest of animals (raises the question of why the name did not remain as Animal Forest...) is sedate, but pleasant and enjoyable to the point where you will feel like a part of the community eventually. Letter writing plays a large part in this community feeling with your character being able to correspond with those around or in neighbouring towns and villages. Also, watching for daily notices on the forest announcements board increases the sense of inclusion as you can quikly partake in any new occurrences posted.

Remembering that you cannot die and do not really have a final goal as such may be too much of a sobering thought for some. However, the delightful air of the game, with the shop that allows you to design your own outfit, the competitions where special judges will come to actually assess your home and all of its belongings you have so methodically gathered, the residents who go to sleep at the same time as you, the spectacular timed events that pop up and catch you by surprise, the fact that any special native wildlife caught can be placed on full show at the local museum for you to then brag about, the amazing two-player communication that is possible by loading a friend's details off their memory card and the hidden NES games that are there dying to be uncovered, all go to show just how much of a creative genius Shigeru Miyamoto really is...

Screenshot for Animal Crossing on GameCube

Animal Crossing never ends. It is as simple as that. Nintendo has created a Harvest Moon-esque title that literally goes on for as long as you want it to, even continuing when turned off thanks to the GameCube's internal clock allowing the world to progress in real time. When you return, taking the time to attend to overgrown plants and the local vegetation, chatting with locals, decorating your home, visiting friend's towns via the memory card swapping ability, hooking up your GBA to visit the (not so) secret island or simply having a pleasant wander round the place you have helped to shape will easily help make AC last for months. The, in addition, there are the special timed events such as Easter, Halloween and Christmas to watch out for, NES games to uncover and a secret password area that you can then transfer onto the Internet to share items and many other treats with people around the world. Anything is possible in this 'timeless' classic...

Screenshot for Animal Crossing on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

This is a very weird one as it should really not be that addictive since it is basically a Nintendo 64 game with a few tweaks, yet it is truly wonderful. This really goes to show just how special the members of Nintendo other than Shigeru Miyamoto-san are as the fresh idea has retained every little shred of its appeal from its original Japanese N64 release. Rent this and you definitely will not get the most out of it. Make the purchase and prepare to waste away many months of your life!

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Simulation

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (19 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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