Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rank Up - Animal Crossing (Ranking the Series' Entries)

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of when Animal Crossing debuted on the Nintendo GameCube in North America. Commemorating the occasion is this all-new edition of Rank Up, where SuperPhillip Centrals ranks the Animal Crossing series' six games from worst to first.

The 2002 release was based off the Japan-only Nintendo 64 game, Animal Forest. That game would see a port to the GameCube in Japan, and this version would be the rest of the gaming world's first taste of the series. Believe you me that one taste was all most players needed to get seriously enraptured with the franchise.

Doing otherwise mundane chores in real life doesn't sound like much fun in a video game, but when the package is surrounded by humorously written characters, an abundance of charm, and so much content that you could play for two years and still not see everything, one can't help but be enticed. As the games are mostly set to the internal clock of each system they're on, everything happens in real time, such as holidays and meetups with other characters.

However, while mentioning the traditional gameplay of the Animal Crossing series, this ranking of Animal Crossing games also includes the two recent 2015 spin-off titles which play quite differently. Additionally, small applications like those seen on the Nintendo 3DS eShop will not be included in this Rank Up.

Before we begin, these are the games I'll be ranking:

Animal Crossing (GCN) - 2002
Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS) - 2005
Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii) - 2008
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS) - 2013
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (3DS) - 2015
Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival (Wii U) - 2015

After you check out my order of games, which Animal Crossing entry is your favorite -- that is, if you're partial to the series at all!

6) Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival (Wii U)

We begin SuperPhillip Central's ranking of the Animal Crossing series with a spin-off title that was insulting to say the least. Made to throw a bone (albeit an extremely bitter one) for starved Wii U gamers looking for something to play during the final major holiday season of the console, Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival was ND Cube's attempt at bringing the world of furry and friendly villagers into the realm of board games. Sounds like a fun premise at first, almost Mario Party-ish, but then you get to the realization that the game practically played itself with little-to-no interaction from players. Worse off, was the overabundance of Animal Crossing-related amiibo that still haunt store shelves to day -- many of which are sold buy-one-get-one or even buy-one-get-two!

5) Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (3DS)

While this particular game in the Animal Crossing series was indeed a spin-off like the Wii U's amiibo Festival, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer offered a lot more for players to enjoy. Of course, this wasn't your typical Animal Crossing game as it merely took one of the most loved aspects of the AC experience, home decoration, and made an entire game out of it. Unfortunately, if you weren't serious about making beautiful designs, you could just cheese through the game as there was no grade system to determine if you succeeded or failed a customer's design. For those that love the customization experience in the Animal Crossing series, Happy Home Designer extended upon that aspect to grant players amazing possibilities with their imaginations.

4) Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)

The Wii was a really good time for Nintendo, but many fans and gamers at the time thought that the company was seeking out the casual market more than those who are more involved in gaming as a hobby. This got to a breaking point at E3 2008 where the whole Wii Music showing occurred, and the scraps given to Nintendo fans was the announcement that a new Animal Crossing would be the major "hardcore" game for Wii owners for that holiday season. With that background info, Animal Crossing: City Folk wasn't a poor experience at all. However, in comparison to the entries released before it, City Folk did little to innovative or feel like a wholly new experience. If anything, Animal Crossing: City Folk would basically be a console version of the Nintendo DS's Wild World if not for the new city section implemented into the Wii game.

3) Animal Crossing (GCN)

As stated earlier, this was the game that started a new franchise for Nintendo and a new addiction for countless players, Animal Crossing, and this edition of Rank Up was made to celebrate the series' 15th anniversary. A remade version of the Nintendo 64 Japan-only original, Animal Crossing on the GameCube is a game that brings me great nostalgia. This was the first time I took care of tasks for villagers, paid off my loan to Tom Nook, found fossils for the museum, caught bugs and fish to add to my collection, added new trinkets and pieces of furniture for my humble abode, and participated in the special holidays that could be found each and every month. Giving gifts on Toy Day, playing pranks on villagers on Halloween, counting down the New Year with my virtual friends, and just sinking hundreds upon hundreds of hours into Animal Crossing all year round are some of countless memories I attach to the original Animal Crossing.

2) Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)

Twas the holiday season of 2005 here in North America when Animal Crossing moved from a console experience to a portable one with Animal Crossing: Wild World for the Nintendo DS. The game blew many people's minds to see the vast gaming experience of daily activities and happenings throughout their village that occurred on a big piece of gaming hardware like the GameCube and now see it shrunk down to fit the Nintendo DS. The largest innovation to Wild World was the addition of online play, allowing players to wirelessly connect over the Internet, visit one another's towns, trade items, chat together (in text form only), and just have a wondrous time playing together. A lot of great friendships were made playing this game online -- building our collections of furniture, clothing, and gear -- but now that the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection no longer is functional, these memories of playing Nintendo DS with some faraway friends are impossible to recreate in Wild World.

1) Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

...But they weren't impossible for them to return in what I consider the greatest Animal Crossing game, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the most recent traditional entry in the series. This time around, online is taken care of by the Nintendo Network, offering a more robust lineup of options than ever before. However, the neatest change is when the first player on a given copy of New Leaf enters into the town and finds themselves the mayor. This opens up a whole slew of avenues, such as building public works projects like adding new monuments and areas of interest to your town (like benches, fountains, statues, and even windmills) and ordinances to help out in presenting helpful laws for your town such as things to make your village wealthier or ways from keeping weeds out of the town's grassy fields. Animal Crossing: New Leaf opened up so much to the player, and it wasn't quite done, as last year, a special "Welcome Amiibo" batch of content offered even more addicting activities to do in the happy go lucky world of Animal Crossing. There are plenty of reasons why the SuperPhillip Central household played this game for over 500 hours combined (and I might be underestimating that), but the main reason is that Animal Crossing: New Leaf is just a special package full of fun and charm.

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