Every Animal Crossing Game, Ranked Worst To Best | Screen Rant

Animal Crossing started its life as Animal Forest, a game that released exclusively in Japan on the Nintendo 64 that would eventually find its way to the United States on the GameCube. Since then, it’s become one of Nintendo’s flagship series with an entry being available on every one of its systems since then. The game has surprisingly kept a lot of the customization abilities it had in the early days of the series, and has only improved as time went on. The franchise has seen its ups and downs, from the GameCube era to the Wii U drought, but the huge success of Animal Crossing: New Horizons has proven that Animal Crossing has mass appeal even in the modern era.

Animal Crossing has even been able to spread past the main titles and create some spinoffs. Importantly, the three offshoots of the main series like the less popular Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp are considered Animal Crossing games, and while they offer different experiences they’re still worth ranking alongside the other entries. Some applications were also released for the DS, 3DS, and Wii U shops, like Animal Crossing Clock and Animal Crossing Plaza, but these aren’t considered full games in the series.

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The history of Animal Crossing is worth diving into and discovering for many of the series’ fans. Many of the mainline retro titles hold up and have some unique features not brought over by other titles. Almost none of the games here are outright bad, and if people want to fill out their collection, they’re bound to find some Animal Crossing titles still worth playing outside lockdown in 2022. For players who only have time to revisit some of the old classics, here’s an overview of what’s worth their time.

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival for the Wii U doesn’t resemble a traditional Animal Crossing game, and in changing the formula to be a board game, comes out worse than the other entries. The board game itself is overly-simplistic and requires the use of Amiibo to continually roll the dice. The most salvageable part of the game is a minigame called Desert Island Survival, but these smaller modes don’t add up to a full Animal Crossing experience. Add that to the fact that the Wii U didn’t get a traditional Animal Crossing game, and it becomes one of Nintendo’s most disappointing titles in recent memory.

With Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ comparisons to mobile games, one would think that the game transfers well to Android and iOS, and while Pocket Camp is still an alright game, it doesn’t quite live up to the legacy of the series. It has more creative and social elements than Amiibo Festival at the very least, but its economy being tied to the real world means that the game is much grindier than its console counterparts. Campsite decoration is fun and a novel concept, but having to spend real money to get rare furnishings that might have been missed is a hassle.

Happy Home Designer for the 3DS is far from a bad game, and it has some advantages over the traditional formula that Animal Crossing has established. Collecting furniture is fun, but it can be hard to find some furniture in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Happy Home Designer solves this problem by instead tasking players to design multiple houses with corresponding furniture items.

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However, without the collection aspect of the game and a lack of both villager and multiplayer social aspects, the game does compare poorly to the rest of the mainline games. This is made doubly apparent now that Happy Home Paradise replaced it in New HorizonsACNH now offers a better Happy Home experience than Happy Home Designer.

From here on, all these games are at the very least good. The basic formula of fishing, conversing, collecting furniture, and doing chores has proven itself to be fun and no matter what version someone plays, they’re bound to have a fun time. Of course, the first game to solidify this formula was Animal Crossing for the GameCube.

Returning to Animal Crossing GameCube might result in a shock for some, as many of the quality of life features from the newer versions like quicksaving, crafting, and online play are all missing. What keeps the game from feeling basic is actually its unique game modes. Animal Crossing comes with around 18 NES games that players can collect and also has functionality with the Game Boy Advance link cable. Along with a large number of cheats to get furniture, the GameCube version of Animal Crossing set a strong foundation for the rest of the games to build upon.

It's safe to say that Animal Crossing works better on handheld consoles as it’s harder to keep up with a save file that only exists on a television. Animal Crossing: Wild World was the first game to realize this. It added online multiplayer with minigames in Animal Crossing: New Horizons as well as new modes to the DS version of the game, making it easy for people to toy with their village whenever they wanted to.

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The aesthetics of Animal Crossing: Wild World are still nice, especially for a handheld as low-powered as the DS. The villagers are much more interactive than in the GameCube version, making this a preferable experience. However, it's far from the best Animal Crossing experience players can enjoy.

The Wii version of Animal Crossing, City Folk, isn’t that much better than its DS counterpart and has the problem of being tethered to the TV. There’s not too much more that hasn’t subsequently been done in New Leaf or New Horizons and its defining features like Wii Speak functionality and the City don’t have as much appeal as they used to. However, being on a more powerful console does give players more reason to play it today.

For a lot of people, despite New Horizons being better, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is where the series really found its footing. It has a lot of content and finally gives players even more freedom to customize the village itself rather than just a house or an outfit. Add on top of this the city returning to the game in handheld form, the player being able to work for Brewster, the return of islands, and the ability to construct public works, and it’s easy to see why this game has gained a reputation for being one of the best in the series. The 3DS ended up being a great platform for the game as well, having fairly high graphical quality while still being handheld.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons at launch was missing quite a few features and multiplayer options like Animal Crossing sandbox islands that held it back from being better than New Leaf, but with its patches and subsequent content updates, it’s become the best experience that players can have with the franchise. There’s not as many special events to take part in daily as New Leaf, but the thing that makes New Horizons unique and more replayable is the island customization. Terraforming may take quite a lot of time, but using it can result in heavily detailed islands that are fun to run around in. Island decoration and outside furniture go a long way towards making each town feel unique and Happy Home Paradise takes this idea even further. Finally, Animal Crossing: New Horizons' multiplayer and social options are better than ever and can all be taken on the go with the Nintendo Switch.

The story of Animal Crossing has always been one of iteration rather than major changes - every game has built upon the last, nearly making each previous entry obsolete. It’s nice that Nintendo is trying to innovate with spinoff titles, but none of them have truly found a groove yet. Still, with the recent success of New Horizons and Happy Home Paradise, the future looks bright for more experiments with Animal Crossing side games as well as the main series.

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