The town or village is the primary setting of the Animal Crossing series, home to villagers of various species, and special characters who manage the town's facilities. Each town is randomly generated and populated at the beginning of each game when the first player moves to the town. Although the position of many structures are fixed, the town can be customized to a great degree by planting or removing flora, placing designs, and constructing Town Decorations and Public Works Projects. Every town is divided into multiple acres, the landscape of which must be carefully maintained in order to achieve a Perfect Town environment rating.
The first player to start the game is given the task of naming the town, which cannot be changed after creation unless they rebuild the town. Up to three additional players can move into town, with a maximum capacity of four human residents. The maximum number of villagers that can live in a single town varies between the games; 15 in Animal Crossing, 8 in Animal Crossing: Wild World, and 10 in both Animal Crossing: City Folk and Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
Common town features
- Player houses
- Each player has their own personal house within the town, which can be furnished to their desire. Houses are regularly inspected by the Happy Room Academy, who award points based on the contents and upkeep of the home. The player must choose where they wish to live at the beginning of the game. Houses can be expanded after paying off the loan owed to Tom Nook, which will give the player more space inside to furnish their home.
- In Animal Crossing, all four player houses are located in a single plaza in acre A-3, and any unoccupied houses remain vacant until a new player character is created. Wild World only features a single house which all players must share. Each player once again has their own house in City Folk, all of which are positioned randomly throughout the town. In New Leaf, the player is able to select a location for their house, but it will not be constructed until they pay their initial mortgage. In the interim, the player is provided a tent as a temporary home. As a result of this change, vacant houses do not exist in the game.
- Villager houses
- Every villager has a residence in the town, and can only be entered by the player when the villager is inside. In Animal Crossing, they can also be entered when the villager is present in the same acre as their house. Each villager's house has pre-determined furnishings, but in games from Wild World onwards the player can influence and alter the contents of the villagers' homes. In most games, villagers will always build their houses on top of signposts, but in New Leaf they can construct their homes almost anywhere in town, including on top of flora and ground designs, and in front of buildings and other structures. When a villager moves out of town, their house will vanish completely.
- A variety of facilities can be found throughout the town, and differ between the games. Such facilities include the Dock, the Dump, the Museum, Police Station, Post Office or Town Hall, and the Wishing Well or Event Plaza. Shops can also be found within the town, such as Tom Nook's store, The Able Sisters, and Re-Tail. The locations of facilities will appear only in certain acre rows in Animal Crossing, but in later games, they can be situated almost anywhere in town. In City Folk and New Leaf, many facilities are instead located in the City and Main Street, respectively.
- The Train Station is the first port of call within the town in Animal Crossing and New Leaf, and where the player arrives at the beginning of the game. Players can take the train to visit other towns, and receive other players who arrive on incoming trains. The station is absent in Wild World and City Folk having been replaced with the Town Gate, which functions in much a similar manner.
- In every game except for Wild World, the town is divided into upper and lower levels, separated by cliffs. In Animal Crossing, it is possible to have two rows of cliffs, creating a three-tier town. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the cliffs simply divide the town from the beach. Access between the different tiers is provided by ramps. Cliffs also surround the edges of every town, and the player cannot access the areas beyond them.
- The town houses a variety of flora; trees, flowers, and in New Leaf bushes and bamboo can be grown by the player. Flora improves the environment rating of the town, and can attract certain bugs.
- Every town has a river running through it, which can only be crossed by bridges. Waterfalls and a pool can be found along the river's route, before feeding into the ocean at the southern end of the town. Each town also contains a small number of holding ponds. In Wild World and City Folk, it's possible for the river to split into two, creating an islet. Fish can be found and caught in all bodies of water, but vary depending on the season.
- Situated in the south of town, and in New Leaf also the eastern or western edge, the beach separates the land from the ocean. Shells, bottle notes, and even castaways will periodically wash ashore. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, coconuts and bananas can be grown in the sand, but public works projects cannot be placed there.
- Civic structures
- Doubutsu no Mori e+ allows players to pay Tom Nook to construct decorations around the town. The mayor in New Leaf can customize the town by constructing Public Works Projects. In both games, these include a variety of buildings, benches, clocks, lamps, bridges, sculptures, among other options. In New Leaf, Lloid will appear to collect the funds required to erect a public works project, and Isabelle assists the mayor with selecting locations for projects. An optional completion ceremony can be held when a project is completed.
The landscape of each town is randomly generated, and therefore it is very unlikely that two towns will be the same.
In Animal Crossing
The town in Animal Crossing is 30 acres in size; 5 across and 6 down. Acres are more distinct than in later games, as the camera is limited to showing only one acre at a time. The top of the town features railway tracks and the Train Station. There will also be at least one cliff running approximately horizontally through the town, which the player can climb using ramps. Sometimes, there are two cliffs, creating a three-tier town. Certain structures will always be generated in specific acres or acre rows; the Train Station, Tom Nook's store and the Post Office will be in the A-acres. All player houses will always be in acre B-3. The Police Station, Museum and Wishing Well will always be in the C, D or E acres, while the Able Sisters and the Dock will always be along the beach.
In Wild World
Wild World has the smallest town size, at 16 acres (4x4). Unlike other games, there are no cliffs and the entire town lies on a single plain. Grassy areas are less abundant, giving towns a more desert-like appearance. Tom Nook's store will always be next to the Able Sisters.
In City Folk
City Folk towns are similar to Animal Crossing ones and are 25 acres (5x5) in size. Cliffs and ramps return, but three-tier towns will never be generated (despite the game having the resources for them) and The Able Sisters is separate from Tom Nook' store once again. If the player donates enough Bells to the Town Fund, additional features such as an extra bridge, a fountain, a windmill or a lighthouse can be built.
The terrain of City Folk towns are inverted to Wild World, in that grass is the dominant terrain. However, grass will deteriorate over time.
In New Leaf
New Leaf towns consist of 20 acres, however, the beach runs along both the southern end of town and also the eastern or western side. Railway tracks can be found to the north, as well as a crossing that leads to Main Street. The beach has a dock where a boat can be taken to Tortimer Island. Cliffs separate the town and beach. Grass in town will deteriorate, but not as quickly as it does in City Folk.
One significant change from earlier installments is the lack of signposts. Instead, villagers will move in anywhere where there is space, sometimes destroying trees or flowers in the process. At the beginning of the game Rover will display four different maps, allowing the player to select the desired layout for the town.
Every town contains a Train Station, Re-Tail and the Town Hall. The mayor can construct Public Works Projects including clocks, benches, lamps, bridges, and facilities such as a Cafe and Police Station.