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Animal Crossing Review - Gamecube

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Animal Crossing has been a long time coming for the Australian Nintendo faithful. Originally a Nintendo 64 project (Animal Forrest), Animal Crossing has been available overseas for ages now. Australian gamers were initially told that the game wouldn't be released here, the powers that be seeing it as the type of game not suited to our market. Thankfully, common sense prevailed and Animal Crossing has been released on our shores. Was it worth the wait? And will it be as successful here as it was elsewhere?

Gameplay

Hearing the premise for Animal Crossing the first time hardly had me jumping for joy with excitement. Similar to The Sims, yet nothing like it, Animal Crossing sees you eeking out an existence in your own village. Approached by a stranger on a train, you're told to seek out Tom Nook upon arriving at your destination. Nook then sells you a house and your initial goal is to then pay it off. How you go about earning the local currency, bells (money), is totally up to you.

One of your first desires will be to meet the town folk. Each character you find is an animal of sorts and each has their own distinct personality. Talking to them can acquire you errands that can be rewarded with items or bells. As your town grows, so will its population, with animals coming and going as they please. How you treat your fellow neighbours, as well as your village, determines their relationship with you. Chief the Wolf has a desire for coconuts, give him some and he'll be a friend for life. While getting a bit slap happy with the axe and clearing trees like it was the Amazon jungle puts certain tree-hugging villagers noses out of joint. This is the very crux of Animal Crossing.

The game is played in real time - running off the internal GC clock - meaning that night time where you are is night time in the game. The game has kept its American holidays, meaning on the 4th of July fireworks will fill the sky while expect some trick or treaters for Halloween. While it's disappointed a lot of Aussie gamers that Nintendo haven't catered for the Australian seasons, it's only a minor quibble that is forgotten 5 minutes into the game.

The first couple of days will most likely be the least eventful as you acquire items to go about your daily business. The shovel (for digging up fossils and weeds), net (for catching insects) and fishing rod (for...err...fishing) are the first items you'll get your hands on. It is then up to you to either trade or sell your items in an effort to earn some bells. AC is very much a game of possessions, the more you have the better. Your house is judged daily and after making a few renovation adjustments, you'll have plenty of room to set up your ideal pad. Later on you'll have ... (continued next page)