Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.
Hello and welcome! My name is Heather and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
Few games can claim to have as devoted a following as Animal Crossing. Perhaps it’s due to the timing, the popularity of the Switch, or the long wait but Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of the best selling games on the Switch and holds the record for biggest first week sales in Japan, beating out titles like Super Smash Bros Ultimate and Pokemon Sword and Shield. Not a small feat. But where did this massive life simulation game come from? How did people learn to love being in debt to Tom Nook and collecting furniture? Today’s game is the first in this unique franchise. Today’s game is Animal Crossing, developed by Nintendo EAD and released on the Nintendo 64 in 2001.
Many of you western fans may already be wondering. Nintendo 64? That’s not right. Animal Crossing was for the Gamecube and you’d be right. At least, you’d be right in the west. Animal Crossing originally debuted in Japan as Dobutsu no Mori on the Nintendo 64 in 2001 and later that year, received a Gamecube edition known as Dobutsu no Mori+. This enhanced Gamecube edition is what we would later get as Animal Crossing in the west a year later.
Animal Crossing is a simple game. Players start off on a train talking to the cat character, Rover. They pick a gender and appearance and are immediately off to start their life in their new town filled with anthropomorphic animals. The tanooki mogul Tom Nook gives players their house and tells them that if they pay off their home loan, they can upgrade to a bigger house.
Upgrading the house is the only real goal the game sets for players in Animal Crossing. Otherwise, it’s up to each player to come up with their own fun. You can catch bugs and fish, collect furniture and design your home, talk with your fellow villagers, and participate in seasonal events. Animal Crossing keeps track of the real world time and this is matched in game, so holiday parties in-game occur on the real world holiday. The Gamecube Animal Crossing was also notable for having collectable NES games which could actually be played fully in-game. These include classics like Balloon Fight, Donkey Kong, and Punch-Out!! Ice Climbers and Mario Bros are in the code as well, with plans to release them via the short-lived Game Boy Advance e-Reader but these cards were never released, making the games inaccessible without cheat devices.
Animal Crossing received high critical acclaim in Japan and in the west. While many struggled to explain the allure of a game that had you perform chores and pay off home loans, something about the cute animal villagers and real-time integration charmed gamers and critics alike.
Thank you so much for listening! If you’d like to hear more episodes of Video Game of the Day, go take a look at videogameoftheday.com where every episode is archived. Katosepe will be back tomorrow so don’t forget to check back here for another Video Game of the Day.
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