There's something to be said for a game you can always come back to. It's not the deepest game, or the most fantastic - it may even be ugly as sin. Yet there's that special place in your heart for those certain games that do something simple, but do it so well. Animal Crossing does just that - it gets under your skin in the best way possible and is always entertaining to come back to, even after the longest hiatus.
Starting off in a small town you're introduced to a rotating cast of characters. Inhabitants of your burg move in and out depending on their moods, and that boils down to how well you interact with these critters. Offering idle conversation, handling chores, and backbreaking labor are just a few ways to win over an animal's heart. Or you could go the sweet-talker route, with letters and gifts aplenty. Essentially the game acts and behaves like its own little world - go away from it too long and other characters will wonder where you went. Some will move around town; others in and out of it. Stay out of the picture too long, and it's a grueling process to get things back to tip-top shape.
Which brings us to maintenance; Animal Crossing is rife with monotonous chores that in everyday life would bore you to tears, yet in the game its somehow…soothing. Pulling weeds, clearing foliage, planting trees and flowers and taking care of your home furnishings are simple, addictive aspects of the game. Like character interaction, leaving the appearance of the town untended too long gives for nightmarish results. Cockroaches in your home, weeds everywhere and an all too pleasant feeling of guilt settles down as you realize the impact of neglect.
Although all work and no play would make for a dull game indeed, so your labors are rewarded kindly. Chores earn items that can be used to decorate your home, or sold at the shifty Nook's for Bells, which are used to buy up more goodies. Or if you're an industrious sort, you can ask Nook to expand your house…for a very (un)reasonable loan amount, repayable whenever you feel like it. Which brings up the main draw of the game - collecting. Everyday chores are fine and fun, but once the sense of déjà vu sets in, the one thing that will keep you glued to the TV is hunting for that perfect rug or wallpaper. Every so often there will be holidays and other random events to break up the hum-drum too. Christmas, Easter, and all the usual US celebrations are observed, as well as Animal Crossing's own brand of festivities. Sometimes new visitors will drop in for one day only, adding to edict that every day does in fact count.
With all the different collecting aspects, the oddball character interaction, and simply addictive nature of such a calm, passive game, Animal Crossing is a great break from saving worlds, working your 9-to-5, or dealing with the hassles and stress found in the rest of everyday life. Play it for 20 minutes or 12 hours in one go - when you finish you feel satisfied either way. And for a Player's Choice title, you could hardly go wrong.