The Animal Crossing series is a strange one. There’s essentially three versions of the same game, released on three platforms (the N64 version never made it outside of Japan), and all receive the same critical acclaim coupled with bemusement over what exactly makes these such compelling titles. I’ve got the same bug, but on a portable format it’s far more palatable.
I imported Animal Crossing for the GameCube, played it daily for a few weeks, loved it for that time, and then flogged it on eBay when it was announced that it wasn’t coming out here for two years, making a nice profit in the process (life imitating art simulating life?). At that time I can clearly remember enjoying messing around in the game immensely but just thinking that it would make a much better handheld game, as having to be at home in reach of the GameCube made playing beyond a certain point when other console games came along a hassle.
So here we are, three years later with a pretty faithful handheld version with a few tricks of its own. There are already plenty of reviews if you don’t know the basics, but I’ll just say that this is probably my favourite version. It looks as good as the N64 version (the GameCube one is much smoother, but it has no effect on the game), it controls decently whether you use the touch screen or the buttons (touch screen is slightly faster when navigating menus), and the gameplay just lends itself better to a handheld format so that you can jump in and out as and when without having to be tied to the GameCube.
The online mode seems pretty throwaway to me, emasculated by Nintendo’s over-protective attitude to online play, so it’s not the killer feature that it could have been. Otherwise this is a great version of one of the most charming games on the market, and one that probably won’t convert those who didn’t like it on the Cube, but should win plenty of new fans. If you want something for the kids to play I’d easily recommend this over fucking Nintendogs.