Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a landmark release for the series in a number of ways, one of which was to catapult it from a niche following to mainstream interest. For me, it got me thinking about past Animal Crossing games, the very first one in particular. I’ve always had a warm place in my heart for the Gamecube original, and I wanted to revisit it for a couple months now. The thing is, I moved to Japan earlier this year and had to leave most of my gaming gear behind, so I wasn’t able to play it. Fortunately for me though, old games are surprisingly cheap here. I bought an N64 and a game I’d forgotten existed: どうぶつの森. That is: the very first Animal Crossing for the Nintendo 64! Needless to say, I was quite thrilled to find it.
For those who might not be aware, Animal Crossing did not actually get its start on the Gamecube in 2002; It actually started on the Nintendo 64 in April 2001, but only in Japan. The game, known in Japan as “Animal Forest” is very, very similar to the version western audiences got on the Gamecube, but I noticed more than a few differences while I was playing.
Side note: Many call this game “Animal Forest” as a way to differentiate it from the rest of the series. It’s true that the name translates as such for the unreleased English version, but it’s still basically the same game. In fact, the whole series has always been known as “Animal Forest” in Japan. The name “Animal Crossing” was a localization decision for the western release.
Okay, so what’s different? Well, character names are a bit different for starters. Some like “Rover” are essentially the same (but in Japanese), but others like “Tom Nook” are noticeably different. Instead of “Tom Nook,” it something closer to “Tanukisa.” Other immediate differences include a different voice effect for the animals, a slight fish-eye lens effect on the screen, a post-office featuring the actual Japan Post logo and a shinto shrine instead of a wishing well.
That’s about all I’ve seen for myself so far, but I plan on playing through more soon (thank you time travel!). Other difference I know about mostly have to do with events. In addition to all the events seen in the western Gamecube release, this one features the Cherry Blossom Festival, Morning Aerobics, Tortimer’s Vacation, Spring Cleaning and Bug Off. Each of these comes with unique dialogue and items/objects.
The original Animal Crossing was a childhood favorite of mine, so it’s I’m loving this chance to not only revisit it, but also to experience a different version of it. I’m also just loving the novelty of playing what I thought was a Gamecube-only game on the N64. It’s almost like playing an official “de-make.” I’ll be playing more soon, so stay tuned for more impressions.
What do you think of the original Animal Crossing game? Would you be interested in trying out a different version of it?
Lede image captured by Hatm0nster