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Video GameAnimal Crossing (Series) Review
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Posted: 2 years ago, last updated 4 weeks ago.

Author: @GeekDadGamer, @boersc, Jo Robertson and Rich Adams.


You live on a small island teeming with life. Insects, fish, trees, vegetation and fossils are represented with cute cartoon visuals. Rather than the scale or grandeur of other game worlds, it’s the interconnected drama of the world and characters that makes it fascinating. This interconnection comprises not only how you impact the world, but how you relate to the other inhabitants and how the island changes with real-world time. Along with special events such as the Christmas and Easter festivals, you need to play in different seasons and times of day to collect particular insects and fish.

This is a controllable fantasy escape, but one that’s still intimately connected to the ticking of the real-world clock. It’s a place to visit for short bursts each day over the course of a full year.

You can play Animal Crossing on a variety of systems, each game follows the same basic format but has developed over the years:
  • Animal Crossing is played on Nintendo Gamecube.
  • Animal Crossing: Wild World is played on Nintendo DS.
  • Animal Crossing: City Folk is played on Nintendo Wii
  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf is played on Nintendo 3DS
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons is played on Nintendo Switch.

Spin off games that offer a reduced experience in the Animal Crossing world:
  • Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is played on Nintendo 3DS.
  • Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival is played on Nintendo Wii U.
  • Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is played on iOS or Android.

DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 14/12/2001, updated in 2020

Price: 22% off

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS, GameCube, Switch and Wii

Content Rating: PEGI 3

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Players: 1-4 (8 online)

Genres: Open World, Role-Play and Simulation

Accessibility: 28 features

Developer: Nintendo (@Nintendo)




Play Time: It takes between half an hour and 45 minutes to play a round of this game. After the initial getting started on your island that may take around 10-15 hours, Animal Crossing is a game you play for around 30 minutes a day.

Play StylePlay Style

You can play with 1 to 4 players in the same room or as a 8-player online game. Animal Crossing New Horizons on a single system lets you have up to 4 people work together on one island but only the main person can build and progress. You can play with 8 people on one island online but again only the main person can progress things. Still, this is a lot of silly fun to run around together, bop people, send letters and suchlike. It's also a chance to trade items with players from their islands. You can specify certain people as Best Friends who can then collaborate more easily with you when you visit and send you things in the mail.

You can play with up to 8 people in the same room via the local wireless mode. You each need a Switch console and a copy of the game.

You can play this game in the following styles:

This has been enjoyed by families in the following styles:



This game has helped players develop their Behaviour and Disposition as part of the following pathways:

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Content Rating

Animal Crossing New Horizons is rated PEGI 3.
User-Generated Content: This game includes content created by other players, such as maps, outfits and items, that are not reflected in the game rating.
Users Interact: The game enables players to interact and communicate with each other, so may expose players to language usually associated with older rated games.

In the US, ESRB state: Some bugs can sting players, causing them to become dizzy and collapse. Players can bonk characters on the head and/or push them into holes. One character is seen with mucus dripping from his nose; the dialogue also contains comical references (e.g., “Whoever smelt it dealt it.”).

Skill Rating

9+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. It's enjoyable for younger children, although many older teenagers enjoy the collecting, designing and landscaping.

Our Game Pathways reveal how 7-year-olds play this game:

Account Rating

You need be 18-years-old to subscribe to Nintendo Online, but can then create accounts for children of any age to play online with Nintendo Switch.


Animal Crossing usually costs £8.99 to £49.99. 

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer

Switch Store 2DS|3DS £34.99

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Leaf: Welcome Amiibo

Switch Store 2DS|3DS £15.99

Animal Crossing: Wild World

Switch Store 2DS|3DS £8.99
Additional in-game purchases are offered for items that enhance the experience.  

You need to purchase a Nintendo Online subscription to play online with Nintendo Switch.
Animal Crossing New Horizons will include in-game purchases in the future according to the ESRB rating.

In Animal Crossing New Horizons you can only have one island for each copy of the game, meaning that for two people to play in a family you really need two Switches and two copies of the game. One workaround is if you have a digital copy of the game and two Switches you can use them with different users with separate saves and islands. However, you can't visit each other's islands if you are using the same digital game.

As suggested by Washington Post, "If you want to play with a friend and experience the game at its best, you need at least two copies of the game and two systems."

A free update to the game adds new features including having a cup of coffee with Brewster at the Roost shop, boat tours with Kapp’n, helping Harv expand his island and create a new market filled with shops run by some familiar faces. This also lets you cook with homemade Recipes.

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp on smartphone and tablet is free-to-start and offers in-game purchases with a chance of getting rare items.


Our Animal Crossing Accessibility Report documents 28 accessibility features:
There is no difficulty setting but the game is designed to help you get started with lots of tips and advice. You don’t get punished for doing things wrong and you can ignore aspects of the game that are too challenging.

Visuals are generally bright and quite large, however because the game is tied to the real world clock playing at night turns the visuals darker and harder to see. Fishing requires quick timing and to see and hear when the small fish take the bait. Digging up items and fossils can be harder to see as well, as these are marked by subtle changes in the soil. There are non-visual cues for events using sound and rumble. Bug catching offers more of these than fishing.

The Nook phone can only be accessed via the ZL button which can be hard to reach. It's also worth knowing that early on in the game you can purchase the Tool Wheel that enables easier access to different tools with fewer button presses. Rapid pressing isn't required, but you do a lot of pressing of the A/Y button to weed the island and perform repetitive tasks.

Diversity and InclusionDiversity and Inclusion

We have documented the following aspects of the game in terms of inclusion and representation. Let us know if we missed something. In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you choose 'style' rather than gender for your starting appearance. Features and clothing are not limited. CJ and Flick characters both have "he" pronouns and say they are "partners" fuelling fan theories that they are a gay couple. However, this is thought to indicate a business partnership rather than anything else.

Gender and Sexuality:

Gender and Sexuality Choices: The gender and sexuality choices you can make for your character orientation and presentation in the game.

  • Choose Any Gender: You can choose any gender (including trans and non-binary) or don’t have to make this distinction.
  • Unrestricted Gender Presentation: You can wear clothing and present your character’s gender in any way regardless of their gender.

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Video Games Like Animal Crossing

Our experts have hand-picked the following similar games. These are similar to Animal Crossing in how they play or their theme. These are good alternative games to Animal Crossing.

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Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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