I first heard about the Animal Crossing franchise from the original Nintendo Official Magazine (NOM) in the UK, which was advertising the GameCube Animal Crossing title. The series didn’t initially interest me, and it wasn’t until a friend of mine showed me his American copy of Animal Crossing: Wild World on his DS Lite, that my attention for the series piqued. There was just something appealing about the idea of a chilled and relaxed game, where you collect fish and bugs and play with friends in person and online. At the time, the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection was still quite new, and I loved the idea of playing with friends across the world.

Launch day of Wild World in the UK was the 31st March 2006. It was a Friday, and I decided to stop by my local HMV store just before college, and waited outside for them to open. I knew I’d be late for class, but I couldn’t wait. I had to play this game that everyone was talking about, and a game my friend had caused me to get hyped for. As soon as the store doors opened, I ran in, and straight to the games section.

On the floor were unopened boxes containing sealed copies of Wild World, not even put out on the shelves yet. I was already late for college and was so eager to play, that I opened the box myself and took the game to the checkout to purchase it. With my brand new copy of Wild World in hand, I ran all the way to college, which was about five minutes away.

I played the game on breaks, I played on the bus home, and you can be certain I played that game all night when I finally got home. Wild World kept me occupied for many years, I was completely hooked to the Animal Crossing series with its charming animal villagers, and the need to collect as many bugs, fish, and fossils as I could for the museum. I shared many great memories with friends in person, and over Nintendo Wi-Fi connection with friends all around the world.

When Animal Crossing: Let’s go to the City on Wii (or City Folk for our American readers) launched, I was at work. The game was actually one of the first things I ever purchased online, and knowing it had arrived at home and was waiting for me was a painfully long day. I went all out, and purchased the special edition, which included the Wii Speak peripheral. 

I used to host Animal Crossing evenings with friends every Saturday, and run contests such as who could catch the most fish and bugs in a set amount of time, hide and seek, and hiding 100k bells around my town for people to pick up frantically, which probably destroyed what little grass I had left.. 

Looking back, I remember being really excited about playing the game on the TV, and using voice chat to speak to my friends. While it was enjoyable, the game wasn’t the leap forward from Wild World that I hoped for. At the time, I didn’t think I would be too bothered to play another Animal Crossing title again.

…or so I thought

I had the pleasure of reviewing Animal Crossing: New Leaf for Nintendo Insider back in the day, and loved the huge changes brought to the series, such as Town Projects, new shops and services, the ability to swim, and being the mayor of the town, having much more control over the way the town is organised. I would take my 3DS out with me and walk as much as I could just so I could earn enough play coins and purchase fortune cookies to collect some really awesome Nintendo gear. Over the years, I have put hundreds of hours into the town of Brinstar, and loved every second of it.

On the 20th of March 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will launch. I have been super excited by all the trailers, commercials and footage from events showing off all the cool features and improvements the game has. I am especially impressed by the quality of life improvements the game seems to have, such as the increased item space and ease of changing clothing. I love the museum, and I like how customisable you can make your island. I have so many ideas swirling around in my head right now, and I just want to get onto the game and make it all happen! While I know my beginnings will be small and humble, I hope to grow my island to become as great as it can be.

New Leaf built on previous Animal Crossing titles, and New Horizons for Switch looks to do the same, with big quality of life improvements and the ability to control every aspect of the island, including the landscape itself. For me, New Horizons could very well be the definitive Animal Crossing title, and I have been counting down the days until I can set off on my own deserted island getaway package.

Darren is a huge Nintendo fan from the days of the Gameboy Color and his copy of Pokémon Blue. Over time, he developed a passion for many Nintendo franchises, including Metroid. His favourite system is the Wii.