Nintendo’s charmingly offbeat life-sim series Animal Crossing made its long-awaited debut on Switch this month with the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The game arrives nearly 20 years after the franchise first premiered on the world stage, and in that time it has grown into one of Nintendo’s marquee properties, appearing on almost all of the company’s modern consoles and shifting millions of copies worldwide. But while Western fans were introduced to the series with 2002’s eponymous Animal Crossing for GameCube, the franchise actually originated on Nintendo’s previous home system, the Nintendo 64, and it was initially born out of one of the company’s biggest commercial failures.
The very first Animal Crossing game, known in Japan as Dobutsu no Mori (or Animal Forest), was the brainchild of two Nintendo designers: Katsuya Eguchi and Hisashi Nogami. While neither may have the name recognition of Shigeru Miyamoto or Eiji Aonuma, each has had a hand in creating some of Nintendo’s most beloved titles. Early in his tenure at the company, Eguchi designed levels for Super Mario Bros. 3 and would later direct Star Fox and Wave Race 64. Nogami, meanwhile, worked as a character designer on Yoshi’s Island and Mario Kart 64 (and would eventually go on to produce another breakout Nintendo franchise, Splatoon).
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