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Animal Crossing (GameCube) artwork

Animal Crossing (GameCube) review

"Animal Crossing was in my Christmas stocking last year. I had begged my mother to purchase it for me even though she was pretty damn reluctant. ďDavid, this game looks like itís for kids!Ē she moaned at me but I didnít care. From what Iíd heard, Animal Crossing was one of the most innovative and enjoyable titles for the Gamecube and I needed a new title to get me back into it. After being disappointed by Nintendoís old school rebirths like Super Mario and Metroid Prime, I needed a fresh per..."

Animal Crossing was in my Christmas stocking last year. I had begged my mother to purchase it for me even though she was pretty damn reluctant. ďDavid, this game looks like itís for kids!Ē she moaned at me but I didnít care. From what Iíd heard, Animal Crossing was one of the most innovative and enjoyable titles for the Gamecube and I needed a new title to get me back into it. After being disappointed by Nintendoís old school rebirths like Super Mario and Metroid Prime, I needed a fresh perspective.

I got that with Animal Crossing, a bizarre life simulator for the Cube. The fact that the game took 59 blocks from a memory card was a little disturbing but Nintendo gave us a free card with the game and a free membership to some shitty Nintendo club. Animal Crossing allows you to create a character by choosing its sex and name and sees this odd Viking horn-haired human move to a quiet town full of animals. You have nowhere to live, a small amount of cash and barely any belongings (yeah, that trip was well organised) but you still take the train to your designated town, which you name yourself.

After arriving to the town, you are greeted at the station by a raccoon named Tom Nook, the local storeowner. He offers you a house to live in, if you pay off the huge debt that it accumulates and offers you a job in his store. Heíll get you to pull off some rather dull and simple tasks such as planting many flowers or typing out a flyer for his store. When youíve done a few more dull tasks, youíll be free to explore the village and make your own money to decorate your home or pay off your debt.

You can customise your house with wallpaper, carpets and a huge selection of furniture. You can purchase many items but none of them actually do anything. You can store things that you have picked up in the closet or drawers but they only take three or four items and thatís about it. The other pieces of furniture are for decorative purposes only and tend to just fill up your house. You can collect many different objects but they have no purpose but to fill up space. If you want, you can apply to the Happy Room Academy who will mail you an analysis of your style every so often. They are never ďhappyĒ though, they always enjoy bitching about the size of your house and the objects you have in it. They donít matter however and you simply discard their mail if you have no interest in the matter.

If you want to pay off your debt, you can do various tasks to collect objects, which you can sell at Nookís store. You can shake fruit from trees, scrounge for unwanted items at the town dump or claim lost items from the police station. Most of these items go for quite a small price so you will have to collect many of these items to get a good sum of money. You can also run errands for your newly found animal neighbours who will ask you to give items to other animals or pick up items that have been borrowed by other animals. You will end up trying to find this other animal, which usually takes a while because they tend to disappear rather conveniently when you need them. If thatís not annoying then finding out that the guy you originally borrowed the item has given it to someone at the other end of town will really piss you off. If you perform the task well, youíll be given an item or some cash as a reward but if you canít be bothered to do it, then you can dump it in the town wishing well and leave.

If you do pay off your debt, youíll be able to upgrade your house by giving it a basement or enlarging it. However, they will give you a mortgage that puts the other one to shame, forcing you to performing the same old tasks day in and day out until you have a three-floored mansion that will be crammed with furniture filler. Itís rather pointless to do at the end of the day, unless you really enjoy collecting junk and selling it to one sucker of a raccoon.

The critters that live in your village are picked at random from a diverse cast of animals. These range from rabbits, birds, cats, dogs and even an octopus. You will begin with about four neighbours and more will move in as you play, giving you a neighbourhood of up to about twelve critters. Itís a shame that most of them are pretty dumb and tend to be rather bitchy. Although the number of the animals is rather high, the actual personality of the animal will be shared with a good handful of different ones. Youíll get the grouch, the dumb blond and the college jock and these are spilt between the large amount of characters that move into your town.

Youíll eventually be able to use four main tools to gain access to money or to satisfy the needs of collecting. The spade will dig up fossils, which you can display in the empty museum or sell to Nook for a high price. Finding fossils isnít hard at all, the ground will have an X marked on the ground and a simple thrust will dig up what lies beneath. The fishing rod will allow you to catch (uh, lemme guess) fish, this is also as simple as pie and is all a matter of timing, as is the net, which is used for insect nabbing. Tasks like this are painfully easy and can only be done a few times each day before everything has been caught. The axe is the most fun; you can go around ripping down countless trees for no apparent reason. It will break eventually so if you do this a lot, be prepared to buy a new axe from Tom Nook. You can also plant trees and fruits if you feel a bit guilty about killing aspects of Mother Nature.

These are not all of the droll tasks that you must plod through, you can pluck out countless weeds from the ground to stop animals from leaving, a repetitive and seemingly endless chore. You can create your own theme song for your town or write and post letters to animals. Unfortunately, the letter writing is deeply flawed and complicated. You have to be painfully accurate with what you write or you will get a reply saying how stupid you are and how you should stop speaking nonsense. Even if you break it up into a very clear message, youíll still get an angry response. The awkward on screen keyboard is also a little tricky to use but that problem can be amended with practice, if you can be arsed to write anything.

The game corresponds with the internal clock of the Gamecube, a feature that seems rather innovative at first but eventually shows its huge flaws. Firstly, everything is in real time, meaning that if you play for ten minutes the actual time that has passed in the gameís world is also ten minutes. Certain events will happen at certain times and will not wait up for you if you decide to live out your real life. It also uses the clock to change the seasons and the scenery of the game. Play it on the winter to find you village quilted with snow or play it in the summer to chase mosquitoes on a warm night. Itís flawed because youíre pretty much stuck in real time and life will go on even if you decide to play another game. You have to play the same thing everyday to experience the game fully, which is a drag. They tried to spice it up by creating special occasions on certain days, like the arrival of K. K. Slider every Saturday night or the turnip selling Sow Joan on a Sunday, but it wasnít enough to extend my eventual daily game time to five minutes.

Animal Crossing was actually an N64 game in Japan and was ported to the Gamecube by popular western demand. The visuals are far from perfect and are extremely basic, basic 64 graphics that are somewhat smoothed over very basically when the port from 64 to Cube was made. The textures of the animals seem very rough and blocky, just like a basic 64 game. It could have been capable of something more eye pleasing but an array of bright yet terribly blocky visuals will have to do. The sound is also rather hit and miss. The mellowed music is rather enjoyable but is nothing special, nothing that will keep you entertained. The chattering of the animals may be heavily scripted dialogue but that does not mean that itís good. Hearing someone speak at that high pitch and speed is like listening to a car violently skidding around a corner with the noise amplified and replayed rapidly.

Animal Crossing had some fun factors such as hunting and pottering around your town, living your life. I played it for three months and really got into it but got sick of the repeated tasks, the simple jobs of fishing and digging and the dull and repetitive errands that you had to run. Ití something that kids can play and enjoy thoroughly but most older players may look for more interesting and challenging adventures that lie waiting for you. Oh yeah, speaking of waiting, youíll be doing that do. Waiting for it to load, waiting for it to save and waiting for the fun to be rekindled. Unfortunately, it never will be.

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Community review by goldenvortex (May 31, 2005)

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