12. Animal Crossing: Wild World
Developer: Nintendo EAD Group 2
The least gamey game on this list by a long chalk. Nintendo’s Animal Crossing doesn’t care about high scores or developing skills or solving puzzles or interactive narratives. It cares about relaxing and having fun in a little virtual town.
Describing AC to someone who’s never played it makes it sound terrible. “You move into this little village, yeah? And you get a mortgage. And you pay the mortgage off. Then you make your house bigger and you get another mortgage. This goes on for a while. When you’re not trying to pay off your mortgage, you can wander around a bit, um...talk to the other villagers. Do a bit of fishing. Plant a garden? Dig up fossils. Maybe design a dress. Stargaze. Just...stuff. There’s no real goal. No end. Just...enjoy yourself.”
It’s joy. I played it at least once a day for well over a year, and still pop in occasionally. Apparently the 3DS version, New Leaf, is the one to get, but Wild World will always be my Animal Crossing. To switch to another version feels like betrayal, frankly.
MAGIC MOMENT: Blathers, the jolly-good-old-chap-wot-wot type owl that runs the museum. He’s an endless bundle of delight.