Since making its Western debut on the Nintendo GameCube way back in 2002, Animal Crossing has become a phenomenon and a true staple when it comes to core Nintendo games. Now as we await a possible Switch version, why not take a look back? Check out some of these fun and unique facts you may or may not know about this cute series.
#20 Yes, animal villagers can become flea-infested
In Doubutsu no Mori (Animal Forest for Nintendo 64), your animal neighbors who have become infested with fleas raise their arms and flail around. This stayed true even in Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo 3DS, except they don’t flail anymore – you just see the flea bouncing around. When you talk to them, they will mention how they’re itchy and you have a chance to catch the pesky flea with your net (which of course is added to your bug catalog).
#19 The Dharma set is based on real-world culture
Known in Animal Crossing as “Dharma dolls,” these items are actually based off Japanese folklore. Daruma dolls are considered to be a kind of wishing doll. Basically, you write your dream or wish on the back of the doll and fill in one eye. Then, once you have fulfilled your wish or completed your dream, you fill in the other eye. It’s cool that they included that in the game.
#18 Chip is no beaver
Your friendly Fishing Tourney host Chip may look like a beaver but he certainly doesn’t act like one. Consider this: he gobbles down the fish you bring him and in real life beavers do not eat fish – they’re plant eaters. Otters eat fish and the way he slurps the fish down suggests he is more likely supposed to be a cross between an otter and beaver.
#17 Animal Crossing’s famous leaf logo has more meaning than you think
Series staple Tom Nook is supposedly a tanuki (read: Japanese raccoon dog). According to legend, tanukis are known to be able to turn leaves into money, which explains why Nintendo chose a leaf to represent this series.
#16 Dream eater
In the Pokémon series, we know the tapir-esque Drowzee was based off a mythical creature known as a “dream eater,” but apparently Luna (the owner of the Dream Suite) is one as well. She’s based off a Japanese mythological creature called the Baku which was known to eat people’s nightmares. Talk about creepy!
#15 Zelda merch
In New Leaf, both Makar’s Mask and the Tingle Hood sold by Labelle are are the only official Legend of Zelda items you can buy instead of hunting them down through fortune cookies.
#14 New beginnings
Why was Animal Crossing: New Leaf called “New Leaf”? Well, there are a few reasons. It’s not just because you the player become mayor of the town when you start. Many of the characters have literally turned over a new leaf by taking on different roles or returning from being away from the series. For example, Tom Nook goes into real estate, Labelle comes back to work with her sisters, Kicks has his own shoe store, Brewster gets his own coffee shop, and finally Dr. Shrunk runs a nightclub.
#13 Joke’s on you
Here’s a funny thing many players may not know about in New Leaf: if you happen to start a new save file as the mayor on April Fools’ Day, Blanca will appear on the train instead of Rover. This can either come off as hilarious or frightening, we’ll let you decide.
#12 Gold rush?
Players were supposed to be able to pan for gold in New Leaf, but sadly, the idea was scrapped. Now that would have been helpful instead of hoarding bugs on the island.
#11 This character actually makes people cry
Remember Mr. Resetti? The mole with serious anger issues who blows a gasket if you don’t save properly? He apparently scared the living daylights out of younger layers as revealed in an interview with Animal Crossing: New Leaf’s project leader Aya Kyogoku alongside Nintendo’s former president, the late Satoru Iwata.
“We really weren’t sure about Mr. Resetti, as he really divides people,” Kyogoku said. “Some people love him, of course, but there are others who don’t like being shouted at in his rough accent.”
“It seems like younger female players, in particular, are scared,” Iwata agreed. “I’ve heard that some of them have even cried.”
To make things less scary in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Resetti only appears if you have first built the Reset Surveillance Center or if you purposely don’t save.
#10 Composer cameo
Remember K.K. Slider? He’s pretty much as recognizable as any of the series’ core characters. What you may not know is that he’s based on the game’s actual composer, Kazumi Totaka. If we look at the Japanese version of Animal Crossing, K.K. is known as Totakeke, which is paying homage to the real musician’s name.
#9 Language barrier
When it came time to translate the original Animal Crossing game for worldwide release Nintendo faced some tough challenges. Any cultural references required extra care when it came to translation. Writers Nate Bihldorff and Rich Amtower, who were behind the English translation for the Western release, put so much effort into it they impressed Nintendo Japan’s higher-ups. They loved the added content of festivals and extra personality given to the characters. This led to the Western release being re-translated back into Japanese to form a new version of the game, Doubutsu no Mori e+, released in 2003.
#8 Originally an N64 game
This is not as widely known but Animal Crossing was never supposed to be for the GameCube – it originally came out for the 64DD add-on to the Nintendo 64 and was known as Doubutsu no Mori. If you search your local retro game store or look online, you may be able to find a copy (however it will be in Japanese only).
One of the more interesting things in Animal Crossing occurs if you happen to be out and about when the clock hits 6:00am – that is when the game will reset and literally teleport you back to your home. Isabelle gives her wake-up call, your game saves, and a new day begins. It is handy to be transported back to your house but could be a bit of an annoyance as well.
#6 Alien invasion
If you happen to be playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf at around 3:33am on Sundays and Mondays, a UFO will interrupt the static shown on TV. An alien then delivers a creepy message. (Possibly about an impending invasion?) This alien broadcast lasts for about a minute before everything returns to normal. Another interesting thing to note is that if you happen to be in a Museum room around this time, he won’t appear.
#5 There was an Animal Crossing movie
Doubutsu no Mori (Animal Crossing: The Movie) is a lesser-known film that came out in theaters in Japan on December 16, 2006. Basically, an 11-year-old girl named Ai moves into a village populated with animals where she works to make new friends as well as discover her dreams. Some fan-favorite characters appear. Sadly, the film was never released outside of Japan but you can find it online via YouTube. It was such a success at the Japanese box office that it made around ¥1.7 billion (approximately $16,216,000 USD).
#4 Tens of millions of sales
To date, the Animal Crossing games have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. That is quite the accomplishment!
#3 Isabelle almost didn’t have a name
During the early development of Animal Crossing, Isabelle was simply known as “Secretary” (Hisho). When we get to the final Japanese release of the game, she is now known as Shizue which refers to the type of dog she is based upon (a Shih Tzu).
#2 Gulliver’s Mario references
In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, if the player speaks to Gulliver the wayward Seagull traveler, he makes quite a few Mario references. These include references to Isle Delfino, the hub in Super Mario Sunshine; the side character Bobbery from Rogueport in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door; and Ricco Harbor, another location from Sunshine.
#1 Nostalgic memories
If you really want to have some feels look no further than the beginning of New Leaf. When you start it up and Rover joins you, he mentions that he hasn’t been on a train since the year 2002. That’s when the very first Animal Crossing game made its debut. Poor guy!
Bonus Fact: Kapp’n’s true identity is kinda creepy
Throughout the game, you may notice Kapp’n likes to mention cucumbers a lot. This is no coincidence. He is actually a Kappa from Japanese folklore. These devious and often mischievous creatures are said to only leave you alone if you give them a cucumber.
Tarah Bleier is a freelance writer, editor and content creator from Toronto. As a graduate from Centennial College’s Journalism program, she has written for Tribute.ca, and Factinate.com and recently for Geek Enthusiast Magazine. In her free time, she loves gaming, cosplaying, prop making and attending as many conventions and geeky events as she can. Writing has always been a passion of hers and she has been a contributing writer of The Planet Observer for many years before becoming its Assistant Editor last year. Her work can also be seen on The Geekcast Radio Network where she has been a podcast host and writer.