You arrive in town. You're new and you're homeless; you have nothing but a couple hundred dollars and the clothes on your back. Fortunately (or not) the local shopkeeper moonlights as a loan shark. He takes you under his wing, puts a roof over your head... But how will you ever afford to pay him back? You'll work, of course.
It might sound like I'm just playing Cart Life again, but this loan shark is named Tom Nook, and he's not a shark at all -- rather, he's a raccoon. I won't be paying him back by running a paper stand or a food cart, but by picking fruit, gathering seashells, catching bugs and fish, and running errands for the locals (who are also animals.) This has been the meat and potatoes of the Animal Crossing franchise for over a decade.
Next week Animal Crossing: New Leaf will be coming out for the Nintendo 3DS. I don't have a 3DS, but I'm making it a point to get one just for this game. Now, you might be wondering what's so appealing about a mortgage-simulator (even if it's full of adorable animals). In anticipation of New Leaf I've been revisiting the previous Animal Crossing games, so let me try to explain what it is that makes this series such a gem: