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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
GENRE: Simulation
PLAYERS:   1-4
September 16, 2002
Animal Crossing Calculator

Animal Crossing Clock

Animal Crossing: City Folk

Animal Crossing: Wild World

 Written by Ilan Mejer  on August 15, 2002

First Impressions: Miyamoto's next big thing. Can the man who created Link, Mario, and Donkey Kong still pull it off?

Animal Crossing is Nintendo's resident genius Shigeru Miyamoto's next great masterpiece, or so he hopes. Gathering from the enthusiastic and profitable reception (as Animal Forest +) it has received in Japan, Nintendo is now trying to expand its reputation for innovation and elegant fun to the rest of the world yet again. Miyamoto has dubbed his newest creation a communication game, a new genre. A difficult title to describe and categorize, perhaps ?whacky village life simulation? would be a more appropriate moniker.

You take the role of the Animal Crossing village's newest resident, recently arrived via the local train station. This village is inhabited by sentient, bipedal animals, one of which, an upright raccoon/tanuki salesman called Tom Nook, offers to sell you one of four homes (save slots) at a special price. However, you arrive empty handed except for the clothes on your back, so he offers to give you your home, in exchange for manual labor until it is paid off. On this note, the communication aspect of the game comes in.

One of Animal Crossing's many unique qualities is coming in the form of the Animal Crossing village itself. Each GameCube disc is burned with slightly modified gameplay parameters, which affect the actual village layout, the residents, and your own avatar's appearance. However, each save slot in an Animal Crossing file takes the form of one of four empty homes ready for occupancy, in the same village! The usual avenue for such saved games is that each new character started essentially initializes the game world, setting you back to the beginning of the game's journey. Animal Crossing is going to have no real beginning, or end, or anything. You and up to three other gamers will be able to reside and interact within the same living, organic village community, though not all at once.

The progression of time within the game is real, in the sense that the actual time, day, date, month, and even season, are tied directly to the GameCube's internal clock, much like Pokemon GS, only more sophisticated. The game gives you no set goals that must be met in order to ?complete? the game. However, it will provide you with the occasional task, which you may or may not pursue, and generally will allow you to explore the village, perform odd jobs, furnish your home, gather a large wardrobe, build a collection of fossils, fish, and insect life, and explore relationships with other residents (player or computer controlled) and even with visiting characters from other villages (via memory card swapping) on a whim. Additionally, all kinds of tools are going to be provided to players in order to interact with other characters and the environments At first this may seem like a Nintendo take of Natsume's Harvest Moon games.

Animal Crossing is becoming a completely open ended game that encourages you to interact with a society that is so quintessentially Miyamoto-inspired, that you can't help but be charmed by it. While not of the highest production values, since it is a (greatly) improved port of one of the Nintendo 64's final titles in Japan (which never saw the light of day here), Animal Crossing is going to be the type of game where you can dedicate a half an hour, or more, and simply immerse yourself into an alternate, idyllic village world, which parallels the real world in a number many ways.

Final Thoughts
How long can a preview be before it infringes on the sensibilities of editorials and reviews everywhere? I have not even touched upon the ability to learn songs and play them on a variety of instruments, visit a Gameboy Advance Animal Crossing island via the GBA-GCN link cable, design your own fonts, notes, stationary, umbrellas, clothing, wallpapers, tiles, etc. Or what about collecting game systems with which to furnish your home, and eventually games which can be played in perfectly emulated form either on your TV or downloaded to the GBA? What about expanding your game through its compatibility with the soon to be released E-Card reader and the unique Animal Crossing cards? This game is dashing aside modern gaming conventions and will attempt to take you back to a new type of experience, with radically new gameplay innovations and technological concepts. Animal Crossing is an entirely new creature, and I for one simply cannot wait to experience it first hand. Twitch gamers need not

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