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Animal Crossing is a Life Simulation Game originally released in Spring of 2001 as the final first-party title for the Nintendo 64, under the name Doubutsu no Mori ("Animal Forest"). While modest in intent and definitely sparse in content, it was popular enough to receive an Updated Re-release on the Nintendo GameCube with a bunch of added content, characters, and text as Doubutsu no Mori+ in winter 2001. This version, albeit heavily modified, is what would be released internationally as Animal Crossing in 2002 in North America, 2003 in Australia, and 2004 in the European Union.
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Based on the creator's own experiences with moving away from his hometown for professional purposes, Animal Crossing is a game where you play as a Super-Deformed human avatar living in a village full of Funny Animals. You interact with your fellow villagers, befriending them and doing Fetch Quests. You can also customize your avatar's house, change their clothes, and get a tan.

The English release of the game is notable for being a massive overhaul from the Japanese releases, which were based heavily in Japanese culture, right down to featuring a number of obstinately Japan-centric elements such as holidays and paraphernalia. For the English release, most of this was either replaced with an American equivalent, exoticized, or removed altogether, with an end goal of creating an experience for English speakers that was culturally analogous to what Japanese speakers encountered in the Japanese versions. Nintendo of Japan were highly impressed with the localization, incorporating its changes and further new content into an Updated Re-release as Doubutsu no Mori e+ in the summer of 2003; many of these added features would gradually be carried over to later installments, through which they would make their belated international debuts. Unfortunately, this is where the story for the original incarnation of Animal Crossing ends, with Doubutsu no Mori e+ remaining Japanese-exclusive to this day; however, the three versions altogether were considerable successes for Nintendo, who released a Nintendo DS sequel, Animal Crossing: Wild World, in 2005, setting the stage for Animal Crossing to become an increasingly big franchise for Nintendo over the course of nearly 20 years.

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Animal Crossing provides examples of:

  • Cultural Cross-Reference: July 4th is the anniversary of the opening of the town's train station. This "holiday" is celebrated with fireworks, Redd giving out balloons and pinwheels, and Tortimer giving you a model bottle rocket.
  • Cultural Translation:
    • The Japanese version of the igloo features a hot pot; the English release changes this to a pot of chowder.
    • The Bell Shrine was changed to a Wishing Well outside of Japan. In Japan, players shake the rope on New Year's Day. In other versions, they throw a Bell into the well.
    • During the Cherry Blossom Festival, villagers in the Japanese version have picnics on tatami mats. In the localization, they dance around the Wishing Well.
    • In Doubutsu no Mori+, Tom Nook is officially a Tanuki, and Kapp'n is a Kappa. The English release changes them into a raccoon and a sea turtle, respectively, but they have Punny Names that reference what they're really supposed to be.
  • Dummied Out:
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    • The Legend of Zelda is coded into Doubutsu no Mori+ and Animal Crossing, but was never made available by any means.
    • Super Mario Bros. was given to players of Doubutsu No Mori+ as a Famitsu prize, but while the game exists in the Animal Crossing code, it was never actually made available.
    • Mario Bros. was only available to Animal Crossing players, through scanning e-Reader cards.
    • All three of those games, plus Ice Climber, were removed from Doubutsu no Mori e+ as furniture items, though with hacking it's possible to use both Mario games and Ice Climber with Advance Play.
    • There were apparently plans to hold contests awarding exclusive items such as the "autumn medal", which would be awarded through the Nook code system, but as these contests never actually took place, the items can only be obtained through datamined codes.
    • The "DUMMY" item is an inversion — as the name implies, it's a test item (a floating white triangle with "DUMMY" written on it in katakana) that was clearly supposed to be dummied out, but for some reason, it's one of the possible prizes for winning a game with a villager camping out in an igloo.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: K.K. Slider (under his Japanese name of Totakeke), Tom Nook, and Resetti appear as collectable trophies in Super Smash Bros. Melee, with their source game being marked as "Future Release".
  • Early Installment Character Design Difference:
    • Tom Nook's design in the original Japanese versions didn't have a leaf on his apron. It instead featured the Japanese character for "shop" (店). Likewise, Redd's apron in all versions of this game features a large "B" rather than a ginko leaf.
    • The protagonist always wore a hat— a round one with horns for boys, a cone one for girls.
    • In the Japanese versions, Resetti and his brother don't wear overalls over their shirts. The plain white shirts wouldn't reappear until Happy Home Designer.
    • In +, Tortimer wears a red zucchetto and blue-lensed glasses. This was changed for Animal Crossing and e+ to a black top hat and clear-lensed glasses.
    • In the N64 game and +, Katrina wears a white robe and matching headband. She became a Magical Romani in Animal Crossing and e+.
    • Several villagers received tweaked designs. The most noticeable is Jane: in Japan, she has white fur, brown skin, and large pink lips, which accidentally resembled racist imagery of black people, so Animal Crossing changed her to have purple fur, pink skin, and smaller lips.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The original Animal Crossing games are dramatically different from future versions. Some features were introduced in e+, but wouldn't be seen outside of Japan until Wild World.
    • Perhaps most notably, the original Doubutsu no Mori incorporated many elements of Japanese culture, such as Japanese holidays and daily life minutiae like radio calisthenics. The international release stripped many of the Japanese elements and replaced them with Western-flavored ones (like "Turkey Day" standing in for Thanksgiving), and even the Japanese originals followed that template from then on. Some Japanese events that survived the initial localization, such as the Sports Fair and radio exercises, don't return in subsequent games either.
    • The town is split into acres viewed from the top down, and the view will fully move on to the next acre when the player crosses the border a-la early The Legend of Zelda titles (a bit humorous considering the first game in that series appears in Animal Crossing as an NES title). Later games feature a continuous map presented as a "rolling log", viewed from a lower angle; internally, they still use the "acre" system, but no visual indication is given. New Horizons includes both, with the right stick shifting the camera from the log view to an overhead view and sections of the island being labeled much like they were in this game, but without the camera moving from acre to acre when reaching the edge of one and none of the characters mentioning Acres in dialogue.
    • Blathers is unable to identify fossils himself. Instead, you have to mail fossils to the museum's main branch, the Farway Museum, who will send them back the next day with an appraisal attached; dialogue from Blathers in later games indicates that he didn't have the license to identify fossils at the time. This is an artifact from Doubutsu no Mori, in which Blathers and the town museum didn't exist — fossils were just kinda there, and the Farway Museum identified them so you could show them off or sell them. The Farway Museum returns in New Horizons but as their old purpose is now redundant, they instead congratulate the player for achieving 100% Completion on one section of the Critterpedia with a golden DIY tool recipe through mail.
    • Several iconic characters (such as Blathers' sister Celeste and Dr. Shrunk), locations (such as Shampoodle and the Roost), and holiday events (such as the Bug-Off and Bunny Day) are not present in this game.
    • Villagers don't gift you photographs for forming close bonds with them.
    • Bass come in three sizes, all counted as separate species. The later games removed all but the medium size and relabeled it as a Black Bass.
    • Toy Day is on December 23 instead of Christmas Eve.
    • Certain furniture types which are functional in later games, such as refrigerators, are purely aesthetic here.
    • Tom Nook has a Raffle Day at the end of every month, in which the store's normal services are closed and tickets received throughout the month are spent to win prizes.
    • Flowers can't be picked up after being planted, only destroyed. Hybrid flowers and watering cans also don't exist yet, and the concept of cross-pollination to grow said hybrid flowers did not exist until Wild World.
    • There is a single acre with the four player houses in it, always located in Acre B-3 just south of the train station. Later games would either have a single house shared by all players (Wild World) or allow each player to have a house anywhere. Each house also has a Gyroid that acts as a Save Point which you must return to if you wish to stop playing without angering Mr. Resetti or losing your progress. This Gyroid can also be used as a tiny sales market for players visiting your town, making this the only game where you can "trade" bugs and fish with other players. The home Gyroid would return to the series starting with City Folk as the character Lloid, but he no longer plays a role in save functionality, instead being a moderator for various financial outlets.
      • Furthermore, certain major structures are locked to specific rows on the map. The post office, Tom Nook's shop, and the town dump are always on the A acres, while the Able Sisters shop is always in the F acres.
    • Tom Nook's store sells clothing, while the Able Sisters exclusively specialize in custom designs only. Later games made the Able Sisters the centerpiece for outfit customization.
    • Some scenery pieces, such as piles of leaves, were scrapped in future games.
    • The furniture in most villager homes are more haphazardly arranged and usually follow some sort of gimmick. Additionally, with a few exceptions, every one owns at least one Gyroid. Later games changed the villager home interiors to be more organized and closer to a proper living space (though some retain the gimmicky layout and furniture sets from this game), and a smaller number of them contain Gyroids overall.
      • Unlike in later games, the interiors of a Villager's home never changes. Some villagers may even have identical furniture setups to another, only differing in the wallpaper of choice.
    • In Doubutsu no Mori and +, the Wishing Well is a Bell Shrine.
    • In the N64 version, released fish bounce on the ground before diving into the water. In other versions and future installments, fish dive straight into the water.
    • The localization edges closer to World of Jerkass than in later games. Villagers get upset, rude, or snarky at you far more than later games when you give negative responses or refuse an offer (even for mundane reasons). Villagers will act cold towards you when you neglect them for a long time, and they are not above making passive-aggressive comments toward you or outright taking items and money right from your pockets, regardless of what their personalities are.
      • Cranky and Snooty villagers in particular are much truer to the names of their personalities compared to later games and will especially chew you out big-time if you dare say "no". Later games, especially from New Leaf onwards, rewrote Cranky and Snooty villagers to be the eldest and most mature of their respective genders and are all far nicer to you right off the bat.
    • The game's soundtrack is much more ambient compared to the conventionally melodic style of later games. The most notable instance is with the museum, which featured completely different themes for each section (with the bug exhibit being dead-silent, using the insect sounds as its "soundtrack") instead of a single leitmotif that changes thematically. In fact, very little of this game's leitmotifs make appearances in later games, in part due to City Folk, New Leaf, and New Horizons being very heavily based on the example that Wild World set.
    • The title screen for the first game featured one of a cycling series of pre-recorded demos, each preceded by a splash screen of the "Nintendo" logo (the N64 logo in the original 2001 release) with a computerized voice saying the company name; which name depended on the demo (the splash screen system had been standard for other late N64 and early GameCube games as well). Starting with Wild World, later games would instead display the title logo over a video of a random villager wandering around the player's town (or an empty town when starting a new file pre-New Horizons, which relies on an Automatic New Game).
    • This game is the only one to have the journal/diary item, which gives you a calendar of when each event takes place and lets you write down notes for your own. In later games, the only way to to tell when an event's coming up is to wait until it's announced on the town bulletin board (or just look it up online), while writing personal notes became sending letters to your future self.
    • International versions of the game feature a much deeper, western-sounding version of Animalese than the Japanese version, with the text-to-speech program being fine-tuned for the phonetic inconsistencies of western writing. All later games would maintain the high-pitched Japanese voice for Animalese across regions and lack the greater fine-tuning of the GameCube localization's text-to-speech, likely to save time on the localization process but at the cost of making non-Japanese dialogue sound closer to Speaking Simlish (especially in Wild World).
    • This is the only game to feature the ability to play NES games; later titles would excise this option due to a combination of redundancy in the face of similar features (i.e. the Classic NES Series line of Game Boy Advance carts and the Virtual Console) and concerns that these games were distracting players from actually playing Animal Crossing itself. Animal Crossing: New Leaf would introduce a small handful of original minigames (including a new Puzzle League spinoff of all things) via the Welcome amiibo update in 2016, but these are considerably pared down compared to some of the NES games obtainable in the first entry.
    • Multiplayer is a big feature of later installments, but here it's limited to being able to visit another player's town by inserting their Controller Pak into the N64 controller on the original release and their memory card into the GameCube in re-releases; direct multiplayer only existed for the NES games. The GameCube did have support for simultaneous multi-system connectivity both locally and online, but these features were scarcely used even by Nintendo, to the point where most people forget these capabilities were present on the system in the first place.
    • In later games, bell trees can only be made with a golden shovel, but here they can be made with the basic shovel by burying bells in a glowing spot, a daily tile that contains 1,000 bells. The golden shovel instead gave you a chance to dig up 100 bells every time you dug a hole. The glowing spot returns in New Horizons and works the same way.
    • Golden tools do not appear in the N64 version, with only the standard tools being available; they would first be introduced in the GameCube ports and become the standard from there on out.
      • On a related note, the axe could be used an unlimited number of times in Doubutsu no Mori like any other tool, only to be given a limit of 23 uses before breaking in Doubutsu no Mori+/Animal Crossing and 25 uses in Doubutsu no Mori e+. The unlimited use count meanwhile is transferred over to the golden axe, as a means of enticing players to obtain it. With the exception of New Horizons, this would be the standard that later games would follow.
    • The character of Farley only appears in the GameCube versions, being the middleman through which the player obtains the golden axe. Later games would each have different methods of obtaining the golden axe, but Farley himself would never make another appearance after Doubutsu no Mori e+ (though City Folk would feature a gender-inverted Suspiciously Similar Substitute in the form of Serena).
  • Easter Egg: If you request an invalid song to K.K., he will randomly play one of three songs, all of which would become valid requests in later Animal Crossing games. If your invalid request contains the word "Forest", however, K.K. will always play "Forest Life", his cover of the game's title theme.
  • Feelies: The GameCube versions came with a free 59-block memory card, complete with Animal Crossing-themed stickers. It seemed like a fantastic deal— until you saved your game and discovered that one file takes up nearly the whole card by itselfnote .
  • Fell Asleep Standing Up: At night or in the early morning, villagers can be found standing asleep outside their house.
  • Flip-Screen Scrolling: Unlike later games, the town is strictly divided into "acres." The later games ditch the system and have continuous scrolling, but still internally keep track of acres for building/planting/spawning purposes.
  • Furry Reminder: Joey, a duck, has a pool instead of a bed in his house.
  • Game Within a Game:
    • All versions of this game feature the ability to collect various Nintendo Entertainment System games as furniture items and play them using an emulator developed in-house by Nintendo. The vast majority were arcade-esque titles released very early in the system's lifespan, with only a select few (Wario's Woods, Punch-Out!!, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda) having been released past this period. The NES games are fairly rare: Balloon Fight, Clu Clu Land, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Excitebike (Mahjong in Doubutsu no Mori +), Golf, Pinball, and Tennis are normally obtainable only through Crazy Redd's, Tom Nook's lotteries, or from having villagers bury them in town. Wario's Woods and Baseball are only obtainable from having an islander bury them. Soccer (Gomoku Narabe in Doubutsu no Mori +), Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong 3, Clu Clu Land D, and Punch-Out!! were only accessible through Nintendo of America giveaways. Ice Climber and Mario Bros. were only available through scarcely-distributed e-Reader cards. Finally, Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda are only obtainable through outright hacking the game, having apparently been intended for distribution via e-Reader cards, only to be shafted once the e-Reader itself was deemed a commercial failure outside of Japan. The discovery of universal item codes and creation of code generators have made these games much easier to obtain, but Ice Climber, Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda cannot be obtained through this method, with the aforementioned e-Reader cards and external cheating devices being the only way to access them in-game. There's also a fake NES furniture item, Super Tortimer, obtainable from the eponymous mayor on April Fool's Day; interacting with it simply produces a text blurb mocking the player for trying to play a game that doesn't actually exist.
    • One curiosity exists in the form of a blank NES furniture item with no games attached to it. Normally, interacting with it produces a blurb saying that nothing's available to play on it; however, dataminers eventually discovered that this specific furniture item is actually meant to play NES ROM files stored on the GameCube memory card, indicating that additional NES games were originally meant to be incorporated into the game through distribution of special memory cards with their ROMs pre-installed.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Gracie's car washing minigame. It acts like you just have to mash the A button enough times, but it's possible to fail using a turbo controller.
  • Minus World: The original has four pre-loaded towns (technically three since one is a test version of the island) that can't be accessed without Action Replay. Some interesting features of them include one with three odd floating yellow boxes, one with a house with all the NES games (minus Super Tortimer, but including the so-called "forbidden four"), and one with an unused squirrel villager, with the Fan Nickname "Blazel" due to her appearance resembling a cross between Blaire and Hazel (though later digging in the game's code revealed that her name was actually "Chestnut"). One of these pre-loaded towns can, however, be accessed via a glitch, by paying off one's debt and exiting the Post Office right when the announcement for the beginning of the Sports Festival occurs; because two cutscenes attempting to run at the same time, the game freaks out and defaults to a single pre-loaded town.
  • Never Bareheaded: The player cannot remove their hat.

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