Animal Crossing is, like Tetris, a game that is constantly evolving in quiet ways while seeming - superficially and to outsiders - to be a game that never changes at all. Holding a piece, the instant drop, even the number of pieces visibly queued up ahead: these are all elements that have fundamentally changed the way Tetris plays. Equally, in Animal Crossing a new type of store, a new focus for your collecting, a subtle tweaking to the economy can transform the overall experience of living in a village and trying to get Spike to come back home.
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UPDATE 2.05pm: Nintendo fans in the UK will be able to watch Animal Crossing's smartphone game reveal at a slightly more palatable time of 7am UK time:
Nintendo's Animal Crossing game for mobile has been pushed back to the next fiscal year - which runs from this April to next March - it has recently emerged as part of the company's financials.
I am going to get straight to this. No preamble. Spike is returning to Animal Crossing. Possibly, he's back already. If you downloaded the very recent update that was launched to coincide with today's Nintendo Direct, you may have him rattling around in your 3DS right freakin' now. He will be grumpy in there, maybe even angry. But all of that is a front. Beneath the bluster, Spike is someone special. Reader, hold onto him. Cleave to him! Take it from me. I lost him once already.
While we wait for Nintendo Switch and an all-new Animal Crossing, Nintendo has just given us a big reason to return to the 3DS' Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
Well, several big reasons, in fact.
The game's big Welcome amiibo! update is available to download now from the 3DS eShop.
A Nintendo Direct dedicated to Animal Crossing: New Leaf will be broadcast at 2pm UK time.
You know what happens. You leave your Animal Crossing for too long, and the weeds appear. Your town becomes unsightly, overgrown. It's a mess.
You also get cockroaches in your house, and your favourite neighbours leave. It's tough, we understand. And, more to the point, Nintendo understands.
So when you head back to your town in November, when Animal Crossing: New Leaf gets its big, free update, you will find Nintendo has called the gardener in.
With the newly-announced Super Mario Run due this December, Nintendo has pushed back its previously-announced Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem mobile games to 2017.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf has opened its gates to Japan's most famous cat: Hello Kitty.
UPDATE 1/9/16 4.10pm Nintendo has finally announced the big Animal Crossing: New Leaf update for Europe - it'll arrive here via a free patch, likely around the start of November.
The update will add amiibo functionality to the game - as reported below - with cards bringing their respective villagers to your town. A new series of 50 cards will launch on 11th November.
It is unknown what Animal Crossing amiibo figures will do, although Nintendo confirmed what we reported earlier: that some figures from other Nintendo series will also be compatible in some way.
Nintendo's next smartphone apps will be new Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem games.
Nintendo's first wave of card-based Animal Crossing Amiibo arrive in Europe on 2nd October.
That's not a great surprise: the 3DS game you use them with, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, also launches here on the same date.
But what is surprising is the number of cards that will be available. 100 cards will launch alongside the game, each sold in blind packs of three.
Nintendo has accidentally leaked what looks like another E3 announcement - a new range of Amiibo toys for Animal Crossing, and one for platformer-building sandbox Mario Maker.
Nintendo will launch other forms of Amiibo in the future, the company has announced, including Amiibo cards and smaller Amiibo toys.
UPDATE 23/6/14 2.15pm Castaway Paradise developer Stolen Couch Games has told Eurogamer that Nintendo is aware of the game and "everything is fine" - despite its similarities to Animal Crossing.
The development team behind the 3DS hit Animal Crossing: New Leaf had an even gender split, and that diversity helped the series evolve as well as contributing to its broad appeal.
Nintendo has had a strange couple of years as a game console platform holder, but Animal Crossing: New Leaf was a timely reminder that it can be a peerless game developer - as were games like Fire Emblem, Pokemon X and Y and Super Mario 3D World. What a year Nintendo's had, in fact! All the same, I wouldn't recommend Animal Crossing: New Leaf to a new player any more, even though it's close enough to being my game of 2013.
UPDATE: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD has been confirmed for a North American release also on 4th October, so we can all celebrate together. (Thanks, GoNintendo.)
Original Story: GameCube remake The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD will be released in Europe on 4th October, Nintendo has announced in a just-finished presentation.
The company also announced a free Animal Crossing Plaza app for Wii U. It's a New Leaf-themed version of the console's home plaza where players can chat to its anthropomorphic characters and share Miiverse posts. The download is available now.
UPDATE: Nintendo has responded to the report that its eShop would soon be available via PC and smartphones, by pointing to a statement on the matter dating back to October 2011.
"Although this next feature is not going to be available with the next system update, we are now preparing for the Nintendo eShop to be available on the Web so that you can access it via PCs or smartphones too," the company said at the time.
Nintendo wouldn't be drawn on whether the feature would be available this year, however. "This is all the information that has been made available at present," a spokesperson told Eurogamer.
Nintendo recorded a profit for the three months between April and June despite dismal Wii U sales.
Nintendo shifted just 160,000 Wii U consoles worldwide - 90,000 in Japan, 60,000 in North America and 10,000 in Europe and Australia. 1.03 million Wii U games were sold.
The reason for the lack of Wii U sales is clear - too "few key first-party titles", Nintendo admitted. The company's only major releases during the period were expandalone DLC New Super Luigi U in Japan and mini-game collection Game & Wario in North America and Europe. No sales information was released for either.
What would Michael Lewis make of Animal Crossing? What would the man who's chronicled the inhuman, almost science fiction-tinged, excesses of Wall Street culture in books like Liar's Poker and The Big Short have to say of the Bell economy and the tyranny of Tom Nook?
Nintendo 3DS had a strong month of sales in the US in June.
The handheld sold nearly 225,000 units, making it the best-selling system in the US during the month.
The impressive sales were fuelled by the launch of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (Luigi's Mansion 2 in the UK), which collectively increased 3DS hardware sales by more than 40 per cent over the same time last year, and software sales by a whopping 105 per cent over the same time last year.
Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has discussed the company's decision to region-lock games on its home consoles and handhelds.
I don't think I'm the only one who's got a problem, but when that problem's staying up until the small hours writing love letters to a bespectacled monkey who I'm pretty sure just wants to be friends it's difficult to do anything about it. Animal Crossing: New Leaf's sucked us all in with a force the series has been unable to muster since the GameCube debut in the West (although I'll admit that Wild World came close), and it's a real rare delight.
This week we have seen what happens when our trust is stretched beyond breaking point. I've been pondering that, same as you, but I've spent the rest of my time playing a game from a company where trust is everything.
UPDATE: We've hunted down a few more statistics on The Last of Us' winning opening, thanks to UK numbers company Chart-Track.
The Last of Us' opening tally was a whopping five times greater than the original Uncharted. It also had stronger launch week sales than Uncharted 2.
It didn't quite match the opening sales of Uncharted 3, although Uncharted 3 was granted an earlier midweek launch - meaning it was on sale for more days - and arrived in the prime November sales season.
It started in earnest a few weeks back. On a bright Saturday morning in mid May, I awoke to a list I had written the night before: Find washers, fix tap, buy apples, sell apples. An innocent enough agenda, but I knew. I knew those apples I was selling weren't the same apples I'd be buying at the local Co-op. I knew the madness had begun.
Another few days and I hit bottom. Come the 23rd I was seriously in the hole to a tanuki over some home improvements, I had an editorial meeting at four, and it clashed with a house visit from Leonardo, a gentle leopard with a thing for weightlifting. On top of that, I had an electrician coming round in the evening, and I was behind on payments for a bench I was building over by the pear orchard. Oh, and I'd sold all my furniture. And my carpets and wallpaper. And all my clothes.
Understanding how I reached this point - and how, I'm glad to report, I got back up again - may be as good a way as any to approach the peculiar charms of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Nintendo's village simulator has always had a knack for tangling itself up with your workaday world as it keeps pace with you, hour by hour, minute by minute. As you move into your new town, sort a mortgage and make friends with whatever collection of bears, mice, frogs, and sheep you've been offered, there are distinct stages to Animal Crossing that any player of any one of the games will instantly recognise, in fact. Why isn't this my real life? Am I totally sure this isn't my real life? In which of my two lives am I meant to be waiting in for that electrician?
UPDATE: Nintendo UK has told Eurogamer that to qualify for the promotion all you have to do is register the appropriate games by 30th June 2013. It doesn't matter when they were registered as long as it's before this date.
UPDATE #2: Nintendo has just confirmed the Animal Crossing 3DS XL bundle for release in the UK on the game's release date - 14th June.
3DS game Animal Crossing: New Leaf will flutter down onto European shelves on 14th June, Nintendo has announced. In the US, it'll sprout on 9th June.
Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has cast doubt on cloud gaming - what many proclaim to be the future of the industry.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf has notched up an eye-watering 721,786 sales during its opening week.
That number doesn't include digital downloads from the 3DS eShop. Early indications show this may account for up to 80,000 more.
Famitsu's latest Japanese chart numbers (via NeoGAF) reveal a huge spike in 3DS hardware sales corresponding to Animal Crossing's launch. 168,662 3DS units were sold between 5th and 11th November, double that of the preceding week.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf will not be supplemented by paid DLC, developer Nintendo has promised.
Nintendo of Japan has unveiled a menagerie of new features for Animal Crossing 3DS, including a comedy club and a tropical island full of co-op games.
Animal Crossing 3DS includes new features such as a garden centre, a fresh peek at the game has revealed.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has introduced a new trailer for Animal Crossing 3DS.
The game, not out in Europe or North America until 2013, was featured more heavily in the Japanese Nintendo Direct conference this morning.
Once again, players will arrive in their Animal Crossing town by train. But the new footage shows there's more to discover in your town than before.
Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem will launch on 3DS in the first half of 2013, Nintendo has announced.
Nintendo expects to begin making money on each Nintendo 3DS sold by September 2012.
Nintendo has revealed a list of first and third-party games coming to its platforms early next year.
Nintendo has offered up a few new details about the forthcoming 3DS entry in its Animal Crossing franchise.
A new developer roundtable discussion, posted to the US Nintendo Channel and reproduced below courtesy of YouTuber NintenDaan, sees series producer Katsuya Eguchi discuss the game's new features with its director Aya Kyogoku, design lead Koji Takahashi and veteran Nintendo sound director Kazumi Totaka.
Among the revelations was news that this time out you'll play as the mayor, allowing greater control over how your town looks. Want to add some benches or streetlamps? Go nuts.
Nook, line and sinker.
Latest trailer from E3.
Nintendo life sim listed for TBA release.
Shop GAME will give you a trade-in price of £190 on the £196.99 Nintendo 3DS if you bring it back within a month of buying it.