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The Complete List of Animal Crossing Games in Chronological & Release Order

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The Complete List of Animal Crossing Games in Chronological & Release Order

Animal Crossing is a game that’s been going strong for over 20 years. The remarkable thing about the game series is that its games are primarily about simply living. Animal Crossing games have no endings; the only goal is to exist, have fun, and make your living space. Add to that that the game stars many anthropomorphic animals as residents, and the long-running series sounds pretty odd. Luckily, Animal Crossing works the way it is and continues to release games and materials for the series entries.

Animal Crossing began as a Japan-only release in 2001 with Animal Forest. Since then, there have been six total main games and five spin-off games and expansions, plus several apps, toys, and crossover appearances in other games. Why is the game so popular? It may just be that there isn’t much you have to do. The game seems to be about peace, happiness, and socializing. 

New Horizons promo

What is Animal Crossing?

Animal Crossing is a simulation game where you design a character and start a new life in a new town. You receive a customizable place to live but must pay it off over time. To pay off the house and everything you want to add to it, you’ll need to complete tasks such as gathering resources, collecting items, running errands, and selling items. Other than that, you interact with other non-playable characters and, in later games, visit other players’ towns.

Since there is no real ending to the games and no intricate storyline, there isn’t exactly a chronological order to the games. Therefore, the release order is also in chronological order. So, how did this lighthearted rural living game evolve through the years? Below is the list of all the Animal Crossing games in release order.

Animal Forest (2001)

Animal Forest promo ad from Spaceworld

The first title in the series is a Japan-only release titled Animal Forest rather than Animal Crossing. It debuted the Nintendo EAD-developed series exclusively on Nintendo 64 in 2001. In the game, you play as a young boy or girl who just moved to a new village. You will be greeted by a raccoon named Tom Rook and the choice of houses to live in, but then learn you must pay it off through work.

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A difference in this game from later entries is that players must set the clock manually since N64 doesn’t have an internal clock. Other games use the console’s internal clock, and the game progresses regardless of whether you log in and play or not. 

Animal Forest is a simulation game with no real goal other than to live your life in your new house and town. Many of the elements from this game were kept essentially the same for future games with slight changes here and there.

Animal Crossing (2002)

Animal Crossing 20th celebration image

The first actual Animal Crossing titled game debuted on GameCube in 2002 in America, 2003 in Australia, and 2004 in Europe. The game is again a Nintendo EAD-developed title and essentially a more widely available remake of Animal Forest. Interestingly, there are Nintendo game cartridges to collect in this game, along with other findable items like fossils. 

Animal Crossing improves on Animal Forest in several ways. It adds better graphics and more gameplay elements, making the game more in-depth and enjoyable. The internal clock aspect of the series begins in this game. The clock rolls on and progresses your world whether you play the game or not. When you leave the game for extended periods, there will be consequences. 

Your goal is to help Tom Nook expand his store by gathering items, running errands, and selling items. Doing these things will help you to pay off your debt from your new house. While you complete these tasks, you’ll meet everyone in town and add to the game’s social aspect. This game doesn’t exactly have a multiplayer system yet, though. You get to interact with other players you create via letters and selling items or visit someone else’s town who owns and plays the game if you have another memory card to physically do so.

Animal Crossing: Wild World (2005)

Animal Crossing Wild World cover

The next major release in the series is Wild World, the first handheld entry for Animal Crossing. It debuted on the Nintendo DS from developer Nintendo EAD in 2005. The game, once again, is a simulation that follows a similar format to the previous entries. This game adds a lot of customization options not previously available, like more control of appearance and in-depth environment layout changes, including constellations in the sky.

Once again, you meet Tom Nook and receive a house that puts you in debt. You’ll perform tasks and errands, including more options than before to pay off the debt and expand your home. The game adds in new characters, new holidays to celebrate in town, new fish to catch, and more. 

Wild World keeps the internal clock aspect from the last game but drops the option to collect Nintendo games. This entry is the first in the series to have a real multiplayer option. You can visit other people’s towns and trade with them, but you’ll need a friend code, so no random visits. The multiplayer functions through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which no longer exists since 2014. The series’ popularity continues to grow, with this title providing a stage for battling in the 2008 Super Smash Bros Brawl

Animal Crossing: City Folk (2008)

Animal Crossing City Folk promo

City Folk returns the franchise to major consoles once again. It debuted from developer Nintendo EAD on the Wii in 2008. The game served as an extension of Wild World as you could bring over your previous character from that game to a new town and start over. 

While there were some changes to the game from Wild World, they weren’t enough to really impress fans. The biggest addition to this game is visiting the ”City” by taking Kapp’n’s bus. In the “City,” there are unique villagers to interact with and more exotic shops to visit. 

The game does continue the online multiplayer aspect that fans enjoyed in the last title. In City Folk, you can visit other players’ towns and speak with them directly using Wii Speak.

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Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2012)

Animal Crossing New Leaf promo

Things in New Leaf are slightly different than the norm in the Animal Crossings world. While the game is still a social simulation game with no real goal, you have more power and responsibilities. The game debuted in 2012 on the handheld Nintendo 3DS from developer Nintendo EAD. It’s praised for its update to graphics, detailed environments, and new features that expand on the previous games. 

In New Leaf, you are sent to a new town again, but you’re in charge this time. As mayor, you’ll customize your town and its flag, name it, design the environment, and even pass local laws. You’ll meet many new and diverse villagers while living your social and building-focused life.

Isabelle is a major new character who is your secretary in this game. She continues to play important roles in future Animal Crossing games. She even gained enough popularity to become a fighter in Super Smash Bros Ultimate in 2018 and Mario Kart 8 in 2015. Along with Isabelle, there are new features such as mini-games, visiting other towns through dreaming, and exotic goods on Tortimer Island.

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (2015)

Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer press release screenshot

Happy Home Designer is the first spin-off game in the series. It debuted in 2015 on the Nintendo 3DS from developer Nintendo EAD. In this game, you follow a similar structure to the previous games but on a more focused scale. The game received mixed reviews from fans for being similar but not as interesting as some other of the previous titles. 

In Happy Home Designer, your job is, you guessed it, to design happy homes for other villagers in your new town. Various villagers need new homes, and you will help them develop every aspect of them to give th e villagers just want they are looking for. Customizations include furniture, carpet, paint, and more.

Instead of Isabelle in this game, one of the major characters and your assistant is Lottie. Isabelle does appear as a villager in the town, but her role this time is more minor. You can also visit raccoon Tom Nook from the other Animal Crossing games if you build his house for him. 

Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival (2015)

Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival promo screenshot

Amiibo Festival is another spin-off game in the Animal Crossing series. It is a board game-style virtual game similar to Nintendo’s Mario Party. It dropped on Wii U in 2015 from developed Nintendo EAD. Tom Nook, Isabelle, and many other familiar characters are playabe with a corresponding amiibo figure. 

The game is a board game where players choose a character and try to reach the end of the board first. This goal is accomplished by competing in various mini-games to advance your character’s position. The game includes many characters, but only one amiibo figure is required to play. Other players can use multiple villagers provided in the game as characters without needing a physical amiibo figure. 

The game is centered around the amiibo figures Nintendo focused on across many games for a time. The more figures you purchase, the more characters you can play as in the game. Fans generally do not like this game as it is somewhat dull and too focused on buying amiibos.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf -Welcome amiibo (2016)

Animal Crossing Welcome amiibo logo

New Leaf Welcom amiibo is a standalone game but also serves as an expansion of New Leaf. Like New Leaf, Welcome amiibo is a handheld release on the Nintnedo 3DS. It dropped from developer Nintendo EAD in 2016. The game is essentially a later-released, updated version for those looking for more from New Leaf or those who missed the initial release. 

The game is essentially the same as New Leaf playwise but adds in fourteen more villagers and other updated features. Some of these added villagers are familiar from older entries and missing from more recent Animal Crossing releases. The campground is another new addition that helps bring more villagers to your town.

Welcome amiibo is an amiibo-based game where the more physically purchased amiibo figures you have, the better. You can meet amiibos and villagers from other towns and games, including ZeldaMonster HunterSplatoon, and more. 

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp (2017)

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp promo

Pocket Camp brings the Animal Crossing universe to mobile devices. Now you can visit your town and focus on living a peaceful rural life wherever you bring your phone. This first mobile spin-off game debuted in 2017 for iOS and Android from developers Nintendo EAD and NDcube.

The game is free-to-play, but all gameplay features require the internet. Instead of fixing up or running a town, this game occurs at a camp. You help villagers build their campsites and perform tasks while customizing your own camp. This smaller scale creates a different yet familiar experience that works well for mobile platforms.

This game feels similar to other Animal Crossing games and does include appearances by regulars such as Isabelle. Unfortunately, the game has no multiplayer aspect, a staple of the franchise’s success. This missing aspect is likely why the game receives mixed reviews from fans, yet it’s still available and going strong.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020)

Animal Crossing New Horizon promo

New Horizons is the newest major release for the franchise. It dropped in 2020 on Nintendo Switch from developer Nintendo EPD. The game returns to the classic structure of the Animal Crossing games with additions to help renew the franchise. In this game, a major focus is crafting items, such as tools, by gathering and building them.  

Once again, you meet Hawaiian shirt-wearing Tom Nook, who sends you to a deserted island. On the island, you get a house that you must pay off by building, selling, and completing tasks. You can completely customize the island just like homes and towns in the past games. Don’t worry; there is extensive home design customization as well.  

There is online multiplayer, which mainly consists of visiting other players’ unique and highly customized islands. While you can only have one island per switch, eight islanders can live on the same island, and four players can play simultaneously on a single island through the same console. The game won multiple awards and is still popular with fans.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons -Happy Home Paradise (2021)

Animal Crossing Happy Home Paradise promo

Happy Home Paradise is an expansion to New Horizons. It dropped on the Nintendo Switch in 2021. Though focused on Happy Home Paradise, it is an updated version of Happy Home Designer

Remember, the setting in this game is the deserted islands from New Horizons. Therefore, in the game, instead of designing a town as in the other major titles or a regular home as in Designer, you create vacation homes. The game really dives into in-depth customization for these special homes. You will have all the building and customizing options from previous games, plus more.

One of these major additions is Soundscapes. Now, you can design how a room in a house looks and the sounds that play in the room, such as ocean waves. These sounds add to the ambiance and luxury of these detailed dream builds. 

Another positive feature is the freedom to return the abilities and items collected during this expansion to your island and game in New Horizons.

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Animal Crossings Games in Order of Release

  • Animal Forest (2001)
  • Animal Crossing (2002)
  • Animal Crossing: Wild World (2005)
  • Animal Crossing: City Folk (2008)
  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2012)
  • Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (2015)
  • Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival (2015)
  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf -Welcome amiibo (2016)
  • Animal Crossing Pocket Camp (2017)
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020)
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons -Happy Home Paradise (2021)
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