The Sims is known for being one of the original sandbox life simulation games but since its inception back in 2000, many other games have followed in The Sims‘ footsteps. Some of those titles have enjoyed almost as long a history of success, such as the beloved Animal Crossing series. Animal Crossing was first released in 2001 in Japan and did quite well but didn’t start making huge waves worldwide until the release of Animal Crossing: Wild World in 2005. Now the latest installment, Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch has become one of the world’s most adored idyllic sandbox games. Similarly, The Sims 4 is the most financially successful title in The Sims franchise to date!
We decided to take a closer look at these two games to see what they have in common that makes them so special and unique in the gaming world.
It’s a sandbox world where the only limit is your imagination
The Sims is well-known for being the ultimate sandbox experience (and one of the pioneers of the sandbox simulation genre). While spinoffs and some DLC packs have put more of an emphasis on story-driven gameplay, The Sims remains, at heart, a gamer’s personal sandbox to do whatever they desire. Animal Crossing is no different in this respect. Part of its charm and popularity is due to the amount of freedom players have to develop and explore their little world however they want with no strict deadlines or predetermined path to follow.
Both feature long-running and beloved characters that are iconic for the series
Long time fans of both series are familiar with the faces of the Goth family from The Sims and characters like Isabelle from Animal Crossing. The Goth family has been an iconic part of The Sims in just about every version of the game across PC and consoles alike and they have rich and fascinating lore attached to them. Seriously, just search up Bella Goth’s profile on The Sims Wiki and you’ll find yourself falling down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and mystery. As for Animal Crossing, it just wouldn’t be Animal Crossing without Tom Nook trapping you into a lifetime of debt and Isabelle’s cheerful daily announcements. Our emotional attachments to these well-known characters are part of what makes both The Sims and Animal Crossing so special.
Customization options for just about everything are almost endless
I don’t know about you but I have definitely put many hours of my life into customizing both my Animal Crossing home and my Sims’ homes. Both games offer an immersive and downright delightful building and decorating experience that’s easy to get lost in. From raiding Nook’s Cranny for the perfect accent piece to display in your kitchen to clicking through every swatch in Build Mode looking for the exact right colour curtains to match the rest of the room, both games understand the appeal of being able to truly make your virtual space your own.
Making friends with your neighbours can lead to unexpected surprises
People are social creatures and fostering relationships comes with benefits in both The Sims and Animal Crossing. It pays to make a point of gifting all the villagers on your island every day in Animal Crossing because these generous souls will always have a little something on-hand to give you in return as thanks. Sometimes they can give you some really cool stuff… or at least something you can sell for a few extra bells. In The Sims, getting to know others can lead to all kinds of opportunities, from invites to exclusive parties to surprise confessions of love! You never know what might happen if you just stop to say hello to people every once in a while.
Gardening is a relaxing and rewarding pastime
The subtle art of flower breeding is something Animal Crossing fans take quite seriously. It can take years to breed every colour of every type of flower and the daily task of watering your colourful fields is an almost meditative experience. The calm and simple joy of finding a new colour of flower pop up in your garden after weeks of careful planting and watering is something only The Sims can compete with. With its wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers to cultivate and a detailed and immersive gardening system with fertilizers and plant quality, an agricultural Sims life can be just as rewarding an experience as raising flowers in Animal Crossing.
You’re in charge of how you want to spend your time in the game
In a world where everyone is bound by deadlines and stressful schedules, the freedom to be able to sit down and do whatever you want for a few hours each day is something you can’t put a price on. You can let go of all the baggage of the day and just sink into an idyllic experience where you’re in charge of how you spend your days. That big city office job getting too demanding for your Sim? No problem. Quit and become a dragon fruit farmer, instead. Tired of scraping up bells to pay off your insurmountable loan from Tom Nook? That’s okay! Take a break and go on a museum tour. No one tells you what to do in your virtual world and for many, that’s a therapeutic release of daily stress.
A lack of quests and linear goals make for a very freeing and calming gaming experience
Your virtual world is your oyster. There are no limits. No rules. No quests or goals or predetermined story to follow. Just you and a big wide world of fun and relaxation. Six hours of doing nothing but watching your character lounge by the poolside can feel just as fulfilling as six hours of grinding for bells and simoleons. Do everything! Or nothing! No one’s going to judge you either way and there’s no such thing as failure or falling behind. The popularity in both these games lies in the freedom and escapist relaxation it offers players in a less-than-ideal real world full of strife and struggles.
Travelling to new destinations is an exciting break from the daily routine
For many of us, vacations are a luxury we seldom get to experience for ourselves. I haven’t been on a vacation in fifteen years and a global pandemic has made travelling more complicated than ever. That’s why being able to travel to exciting new destinations in video games like The Sims and Animal Crossing feels like such a treat for most of us. We may never see the wild jungles of South America for ourselves or fly to exotic, uncharted islands full of mystery with a talking dodo but these things and more are always possible for us. All we need to do is boot up our consoles or computers and we can travel the world from the comfort of our living rooms.
Completing collections gives us a sense of accomplishment
Collecting is a huge part of both The Sims and Animal Crossing. In The Sims 4, players have a wide variety of collections they can complete and display in their own private museum. Some collections are more challenging to complete than others but it’s always an accomplishment to have a completed collection on display. Blathers the owl manages the museum in Animal Crossing and although there aren’t as many types of collections to complete as The Sims, it’s always worth a trip to the museum to admire all of your fossils, bugs, fish, and artwork in a truly beautiful, atmospheric setting. I could stay there for hours taking pictures and enjoying the sights.
Activities like fishing and bug catching are great money makers
Don’t you wish getting rich was as easy as just walking around catching bugs all day long? Me too. It may seem like a silly way to earn a living but being able to spend your days catching bugs, fishing, and picking up seashells along the beach (and completing some of those collections, too, while you’re at it) offers players a more relaxing alternative to financial success than a traditional career. In fact, neither you nor any of the regular villagers on your island in Animal Crossing have jobs! Why would you need one in a place with such abundant resources that haven’t been taken over by corporate greed? Pure paradise in your pocket.
Are you a fan of both these timeless games? What else do you think Animal Crossing draws from The Sims or vice versa? We’d love to read about your favourite The Sims and Animal Crossing experiences in the comments!