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Here's A Timeline of Animal Crossing Games Over the Years
Live your best virtual life
Tomorrow, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be transporting Nintendo Switch users to a bright, tropical destination to live their best virtual lives. Aside from living alongside a colorful cast of critters, you also get to design your perfect island getaway, collect resources to craft tools and items, decorate your vacation home and more.
With New Horizons joining the roster of the Animal Crossing series of games, let’s take a look back on the franchise and how this cutesy, open-ended life simulator achieved worldwide success.
2001: Animal Crossing
The first Animal Crossing came out on the GameCube console and featured the player as a young girl or boy who’s ready to start a new life in a small village.
After discovering your lack of accommodations, shopkeeper Tom Nook offers you a house and allows you to work for him to pay off your debt. Once the debt is paid, you take on odd jobs and errands for the villagers, including picking fruits and catching fish and insects.
What gives this game its charm is its atmosphere, with days, nights and seasons closely following real-life, interactions with quirky and unique villagers and shopkeepers, even celebrating similar holidays through certain activities.
Coupled with easygoing gameplay, the result is a fun and lighthearted experience reminiscent of peaceful, rural living that is carried on throughout the rest of the game.
2005: Animal Crossing: Wild World
Following the success of the first game, Animal Crossing: Wild World was released. It follows a similar path—the players find themselves without a home and mortgages from one Tom Nook. You play the game by taking on errands and selling items to pay off the loan.
The game also continues the real-time day and season progression, which progressed even while the game was turned off.
What sets Wild World apart from its predecessor is the vast amount of improvements and changes in the gameplay. Aside from additional activities in the town proper, players have more options to customize their towns by planting trees and flowers and even drawing constellations in the sky.
Additionally, this game is where villagers become more interactive. Animal Crossing: Wild World was the first game in the series that allowed players to visit other players’ towns through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and DS-to-DS connections.
2008: Animal Crossing: City Folk
Released on the Nintendo Wii, Animal Crossing: City Folk serves as an expansion to Wild World. Upon starting the game, players get the chance to move into the village as their Wild World character, keeping their catalog and appearance.
True to its title, City Folk’s new features make special characters like Gracie the Giraffe and Redd the Fox mainstays in your village through a location known as The City. The City Plaza is also home to new characters manning new storefronts for players to interact with.
2012: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Four years after City Folk’s release, Animal Crossing: New Leaf made its debut on the Nintendo 3DS. Unlike prior installments, New Leaf players take on the role of the Mayor of a small town (which players can choose to name), assisted by the loyal secretary Isabelle.
This game features the most amount of customizability thus far—from naming your town, enacting local ordinances, planting trees and flowers, designing a town flag and town tune to constructing buildings and other facilities to beautify your village.
New Leaf also has a more diverse cast of villagers with a range of personalities and a campsite that may draw more villagers to live in your town.
2020: Animal Crossing: New Horizons
The much-awaited follow-up Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be set on a vacation island that the players, acting as Mayor, will develop as they see fit.
New Horizons is well-deserving of its title, as the game builds on what the series does best and adds even more to enhance the experience. Crafting is at the heart of this latest installation, encouraging players to use resources gathered to create tools, items and other exciting things. You will have more freedom to decide how to decorate, design and shape the island.
Aside from these expansive features, New Horizons creates a sense of community by allowing up to eight islanders to live together on the same island, with four islanders being able to play along. Finally, New Horizons takes a page from spin-off game Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and incorporates even more extensive design options for your islander’s home.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be released on March 20, 2020.
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