Animal Crossing mania is sweeping the globe right now. The sim game is on everyone’s minds, from casual players to hardcore minmaxers. It’s no surprise — this tends to happen every time a new Animal Crossing is released, because these games are the epitome of fun, and people can’t get enough of jumping in-game and living out their own virtual lives.
But Animal Crossing: New Horizons is far from the only entry in the series, of course. It’s been running since its initial GameCube release in 2001, and there have been several iterations over the years. If you’re new to the franchise, you may want to go back and try to experience a few that you’ve missed. While some are definitely harder to get now than others, they’re all worth exploring in some way.
Here are the best Animal Crossing titles of all time, ranked from best to worst — if there is a worst in this ranking, after all. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of them, if you ask us.
1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Many might assume that the latest Animal Crossing entry is the greatest because it’s simply new. But the fact of the matter is, it’s the best because it’s the most full-featured, accessible, and refined version of Animal Crossing so far. It brings everything fans love about the series to the Nintendo Switch for the very first time — and much, much more. It’s also the most popular at the moment, meaning you’ve always got a hustling and bustling community to trade goods with, invite to your island, and get to know. This is the culmination of years of Animal Crossing distilled into one package, and it’s hard to envision how great a future version might be.
2. Animal Crossing
Though New Horizons has truly eclipsed the original Animal Crossing in many ways, there’s still no beating the GameCube game that started it all. Though technically it began life on Nintendo 64 in Japan, American gamers came to know it on GameCube, and it was a massive hit. It’s still inviting, hilarious, and extremely fun even nearly two decades after its debut, and even better in some respects. You could collect NES games and play them in-game and even connect to the Game Boy Advance in the original, and the villagers felt just a bit sassier then. It’s harder to come across (and you need a GameCube to play it), but it’s a real blast from the past that is worth your time if you’re a true fan.
3. Animal Crossing: City Folk
The world of Animal Crossing began to grow exponentially with its Wii release, which allowed players to visit the city along with three other players. It introduced the Wii Speak peripheral, which encouraged multiplayer gaming with the whole family, and felt like the next big thing after the GameCube release. It was a faster, expanded version of the original game with plenty more reasons to spend time with others in addition to your villagers. The Wii is all but extinct now, and you can’t use the game’s online features anymore, but it’s still a good time to jump in if you want to see how the series has evolved.
4. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the second time this cozy little sim game made the leap to portable. In doing so, it changed a few things up for an interesting new excursion into life on an island filled with animals. For once, it made you mayor instead of raccoon Tom Nook’s lackey. Then, you met the tireless Isabelle, your assistant who could take care of all your important tasks while you went off “mayoring.” Plus, on the 3DS, you could take a look at others’ houses simply by making use of the handheld’s SpotPass ability and walking past others while out and about. Unfortunately, while the game is easy to get now, 3DS consoles are much less prominent since the Switch took over. But this is still very much a great portable Animal Crossing adventure.
5. Animal Crossing: Wild World
The first time Animal Crossing ever had its own portable iteration, it was back on the original Nintendo DS. And no longer being tethered to your GameCube to tend to your animal villagers made for an awesome new way to play the game. You could check on your favorite animal friends at any time of day, decorate your home on your lunch break, and check in on your town any time, day or night, without worrying about dragging out the GameCube or console and disturbing others. This entry was a literal game-changer, and it brought players together in a way that hadn’t been done before. It’s still a lot of fun for a laugh, especially since it still holds up today.
6. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Animal Crossing went mobile with the introduction of Pocket Camp, a free-to-play installment that had fans excited to jump aboard. It features paid membership requirements instead of an option to buy the game outright like the rest of the series, but it does have plenty of fun features for anyone who’s no stranger to pay-to-win games. Getting to run your own campground is a pretty exciting profession, even if you’re still beholden to Tom Nook and his money-grubbing ways.
7. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer
Part of the fun of Animal Crossing is designing the interior of your home just so and making it look the way you want. That’s where Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer came in. The spin-off had you creating new home looks for the animals in your village, but it was less about creating a fun animal life for yourself in-game. Still, it was a fun addition to the franchise that hadn’t been tried yet, even if it wasn’t a “core” entry.
8. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival
This is the only Animal Crossing that was more of a board game than a true sim, and thus was divisive among fans. It’s still fun and supports the series’ amiibo figures, but it wasn’t what fans had been looking for. It’s still available to pick up on the Wii U, but it’s really the least exciting Animal Crossing adventure you could have since there are no sim elements in it.