3DS Grubport

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LOS ANGELES — You might think that Animal Crossing designer Katsuya Eguchi might take some inspiration from the massive market of casual games that have sprung up since his series first debuted in 2001. Maybe he plays developer Zynga’s FarmVille game to see why it is so popular with the casual audience.

Well, he didn’t. In fact, when I interviewed Eguchi and asked him what he thinks about games like FarmVille, he had no idea what I was talking about.

“What is FarmVille?” he asked me through a translator.

I explained the basic concept to him, but it didn’t jog his memory.

“I’ve never played FarmVille,” said Eguchi.

Animal Crossing is a life-sim game where characters make friends and do chores. It attracts a lot of casual players, especially in Japan. Eguchi agreed that Animal Crossing is great for casual fans, but he also thinks it reaches a wider audience than that.

“If by casual game you mean something that anyone can sit back, enjoy, and have fun with — then yes, I would call it a casual game,” said Eguchi. “But it has even deeper aspects that more traditional gamers can latch on to as well. If you’re a traditional gamer, and you want to have a bit of a different experience with Animal Crossing, there are paths that are a little more severe.”

Animal Crossing: New Leaf hit the 3DS on Sunday. It is available at retail and on the 3DS eShop for $34.99. Read GamesBeat’s review of New Leaf here.