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Ranking the Animal Crossing games from best to worst

I did go over the best and worst of Animal Crossing: New Leaf last week. I went over ten details over each, talk about how this game has improved and what new problems were made. Yes, community-related problems have always been a problem since the dawn of social networking. But the other problems created, they were pretty drastic.

This week, I’m going to go over the entire Animal Crossing series released in the United States. Yes, even if I played some more than the others, I have played all four games. 2003 was the first year of my Animal Crossing life, and I have played it every year since, with 2011 and 2012 being the only years I didn’t. 2014 was my biggest year for AC when I joined the Bell Tree Forums, created the town of StarFall, and written two FAQs for GameFAQs.

So it’s time I start ranking the games. You may heard the common sayings “first is worst” and “last is best”. I’m going to do the opposite this time.

#1 – Animal Crossing: New Leaf

There is no surprise that ACNL would be at the top of the list. Not only it’s my most played game of the series, but it’s also the game I spent the most time on in 2014. Obviously, this is the best AC game of the series. With the cool new features added and character design improvements, nothing could top ACNL. Normally, I play the male characters since I’m a guy, but due to the improvements in character design, making the females look prettier, I only have female characters in my town. This game is more than just my favorite game in this series. Other people like this game over the other AC games too. I guess more customization options and a larger variety in items is keeping this game from being outranked by the others.

What New Leaf did right:

I may have went over this last week, but I’ll do a recall. The mayoral options (which are PWPs and ordinances) are what top the list of best features in the game. I also liked some of the new items introduced. Along with that, they had different types of clothes rather than just different clothes, the achievement system, dream towns, island tours, and further customization options.

Aside to the new features, they retained some of the best features like interior design as they revived some of the lost features. NES games will never come back, but I think Island Tours would be a good substitute. Features either lost from the GameCube Version or Wild World that never came back in City Folk have returned in New Leaf. The train station, camping, the island, and villager photos are what we needed.

New and returning features aren’t the only things that went right in New Leaf. They have made some improvements. One is that the bar has been lowered on bank savings to get the ABD. Money making has also been easier, time traveling doesn’t have a negative effect on the Stalk Market, Resetti isn’t as mean as he used to be while he is completely optional, and Redd’s paintings (and statues) have a flaw that can be easily exploited.

Problems in the game:

Even if New Leaf is best of the series, it is not a perfect game. Granted, some problems were problems from the very beginning, as well as the community related problems like duping and powersaving (which is hacking), but there were some created by the game itself. Things that annoy me are the difficulty of getting PWPs (more specifically to where useless questions can’t be narrowed down), the current luck system, Saharah giving you non-Saharah exclusive items, the group mechanic, and random animal move-ins from visiting others’ towns (I’m looking at your Prince). But the one problem that is the biggest liability of this game is that animals are free to move wherever they want. Even I was a victim of this. On my first town, I had a few move in front of my house and some in front of my Town Hall. On my second town, one moved in front of my bridge. In StarFall, I was able to control where they move with the reset villager trick to keep them away from the south side of the river, but one wrecked my extended campsite area after publishing dream town. This is bad, even to those who don’t care about urban planning too much. And what’s stupider than that is when the animal is the latest villager to move in, they are immune to being pushed out of town until another animal moves in. I’m not the most sensitive Animal Crosser to this issue, but I don’t like this idea either.

Along with the frustrations of the game, other problems were retained or created in ACNL. One of them is that paying off your house costs even more money than ever before. Look how greedy Tom Nook is. Your first debt is now 49,800 Bells to pay off a small house, with 10,000 as your down payment and 39,800 as the rest of the first debt. You have to carry a whole bunch of money at once to buy Gracie furniture, but we can’t hold all that money at once. Beetles are easier to scare. Grass decay still exists. The sprinkler and lawn mower are unorderable, even if they were regular items sold by the Nooklings (I don’t get why they are supposed to be unorderable). And balloons and pinwheels can only be obtained through StreetPass.

And there’s still more. Some features that were introduced in City Folk, in both Wild World and City Folk, and in all three past games were removed in New Leaf. I like the shopping point system Tom Nook had, as well as the credit cards, observatory, and increased chances of getting rare fish. But at least we had the advantages in New Leaf.

#2 – Animal Crossing: Wild World

Prior to ACNL, ACWW would have to be the best of the AC series. Even if I played ACNL more than any other game, I played ACWW for more years than ACNL. I saw more improvements from ACGC to ACWW than ACWW to ACCF. Since it had more features than the GameCube Version and less blurry graphics and complicated controls than City Folk, New Leaf is the only game better than Wild World in the series. Also like New Leaf, Wild World is on a portable system. Most video games are better for consoles than handhelds, but some franchises are better for handhelds than consoles. And Animal Crossing is one of them.

What Wild World did right:

There’s not much to say, but I would like to give a few points about the game. First off, the Robo-Series, Mush Series, and Mad Scientist’s Theme were all introduced in ACWW. Next, as someone who didn’t care about collecting clothes, Tom Nook no longer sells them. The Ables do. So we finally got more space for furniture at Tom Nook’s as the Ables at least have something to sell. Hats, accessories, and hairstyle changes, all new to ACWW. This fixed the GameCube Version’s problem of permanent hats. We have extra features at Town Hall, bigger homes to decorate, Tom Nook’s point system, and two attractions added to the Museum. One more new feature that I liked – you can move from town to town.

Not to mention, but some problems in the GameCube Version I did not mention yet were fixed. You can store more up to 90 items in your storage spaces (but they are the same to every dresser and wardrobe), the HRA doesn’t give you mail after every change in layout, Redd’s visits are predictable, you no longer have to mail fossils to get them identified, and you can stop animals from moving. Plus, when you visit another town, you can see the other human active.

Problems in the game:

Before City Folk (or especially New Leaf), comparing between the GameCube Version and Wild World was pretty fun. And Wild World had a plethora of problems, some of them were already in the GameCube Version, and others were new.

First problem. Due to the small size a cartridge can carry, towns are much smaller. Everything is at one level of elevation, which is a problem because I liked cliffs. New Leaf had a similar problem, but at least there are cliffs. Wild World, not even a single one. On a related note, they removed the dock from the big lake that we seen in the GameCube Version. Ever since this change, it was never reversed. Now moving to major problems. Redd sells counterfeit paintings, quality of music dropped, graphics are low quality, and the island is removed completely. Other problems – Tom Nook’s final expansion requires shoppers from other towns to buy from Tom Nook, all humans have to live in one house, NES Games are gone, and the turnip glitch where Nook’s turnip prices are always low.

The biggest disadvantage of Wild World is a severe one. There is no problem in ACWW worse than the lack of holidays. Because the game is trying to be politically correct, they took out many holidays, including the one-gift holidays, Halloween, Thanksgivings, Christmas, and both Sports Fair events. The holidays in ACWW are all bad. The only holiday I actually liked in ACWW was the Acorn Festival. At least the New Year’s event is a real holiday (and the only real one). The Fireworks Festival is more common, so that is good, but it’s not a real holiday. The Fishing Tourney and Bug-Off are alright. But the other holidays, don’t get me started on them. They are not only fake holidays, but they are stupid, especially Yay Day and La-Di Day. There is no point behind them. Another thing, they removed a lot of items to contribute to their political correctness. Removing the balloons was the biggest mistake in this area. The Spooky Series, Harvest Series, and Jingle Series were also removed. But even if we had this problem, this didn’t stop me from playing ACWW until ACNL game out (but remember, I had a two-year break from playing AC since I completed all my goals for the first time). Still, this is Wild World’s biggest problem.

#3 – Animal Crossing (GameCube Version)

This is the game that started it all (at least in the US). Even if it’s the most watered down version of the AC Series, it was good for its time, and today, it is still well-remembered since it’s the foundation of Animal Crossing. Just thinking about how nostalgic I am about this, the GameCube Version was pretty good. New Leaf did have more improved features of the stuff that were removed in Wild World, but the GameCube Version still stands in the center. Because of the new features introduced in future games, this remains to be a major flaw for the GameCube Version. But it isn’t perfectly bad either.

What the GameCube Version did right:

Even with future games having bigger and better stuff, there were many things the GameCube Version had that the other games didn’t. One of them was the NES Games. Having games within games was pretty fun. Back when the 3DS eShop opened for the first time, the game Excitebike was free for a little while. Excitebike was one of the NES games in the GameCube Version. They also had the 1981 version of Donkey Kong (which I played more in DK64 than anywhere else), sports games, pinball, and some others I can’t name of. We also had journals, better sound effects, balloons and pinwheels were a lot easier to get, shines in the ground, and the dock in the big lake.

Add to that, you may also have remembered that Redd never sold counterfeit paintings. That means Blathers can accept any painting. There was also a lot of grass with a few patches of dirt. Town models were major collectibles in the game (as future games had less models). And what about Wisp? He was the ghost who could pull out your weeds if you bring him his five spirits with your net. Too bad he was removed while the Rafflesia was added if you don’t pull your weeds. This made the weed problem even worse. It’s a good thing the GameCube Version didn’t have this.

Problems in the game:

Obviously, the first game will always have problems. Remember, practice makes perfect. But after adding all the new features in future games, especially New Leaf, much of the stuff is a liability in the GameCube Version, and it would be unbearable to go backwards.

First problem, you can only change your shirt. The shirt pattern applies to not just the front of your shirt, but also to your back, the sleeves, and the hat. You can’t remove hats, you can’t change hair. Character customization isn’t as fun back then. What else is there? Everyone has their own home, but they all live in the same acre, no matter what town you have. The first floor room and second floor room counts as one room as you can’t change the carpet and wallpaper in the basement. And almost all towns are nearly identical.

Customization isn’t the only problem with the GameCube Version. We had this restriction where Nookway won’t remodel unless if someone from another town buys from your town, animals can repaint your roof without your permission, lack of Wi-Fi, animals are more aggressive back then (even the Normal villagers), animals moving in or out is unpredictable, Sable will never become friends, the HRA send you a letter after every layout update, and you can only store up to three items per dresser. Not just three items, but you can’t store furniture, fish, or insects. What if New Leaf was like that? Good thing it isn’t.

#4 – Animal Crossing: City Folk

Like what the popular opinion says, Animal Crossing: City Folk is my least favorite game in the AC Series. In fact, I didn’t even last 10 days when playing ACCF if I can remember. It’s basically Wild World, but with grass decay and on the console. Even from the beginning, ACCF was a problem, and with Nintendo WFC shut down, City Folk is dead.

What City Folk did right:

Even if it’s a bad game, it’s not all bad. City Folk was the game that introduced pro-patterns, GracieGrace, and swapping tools with the control pad, something that I use a lot in New Leaf. We also got to live in our own houses again (and in different locations). You can have the beach house too. We also have balloons, Harriet having her own business, silver tools, and the return of the holidays, plus two new ones.

Two of the ACCF exclusive features that I liked. One was that you can have shopping cards, so you don’t have to hold all of the money when you go shopping in your pockets. The other, you can choose what renovation you want of Tom Nook’s store. You can have longer hours, more items, or a balance. Too bad we don’t have that in New Leaf.

Problems in the game:

Like all AC games, City Folk had some issues, and these are some serious issues here. What heard from others (as well as my personal story) are pretty grim. Grass decay is the worst part. It deteriorates very fast and recovers very slowly. I saw a picture of a desert in ACCF with a lone tree standing. It was also one town per console, animals have more repetitive dialogue with no options, lack of improvements, and blurry graphics that would make my eyes squint. The character design is my personal problem. The humans are much shorter in ACCF than they are in previous games, as the female characters can show their underwear when they lay down. I know this isn’t necessary to say, but I didn’t like that at all. Plus, Animal Crossing is a kid’s game.


That’s all of the games I’m going over. Next week might be about how I came up with my character in ACNL. But for now, I’m done sharing my views on AC.