Animal Crossing is known as Animal Forest in Japan and way before Tom Nook peddled his wares to players Nintendo made a game called The Forest of Beginning.
The Forest of Beginning feels kind of like a precursor to the entire Animal Crossing series even if it doesn’t have animals in it. You play as a boy who travels to a rural village where his grandpa lives to spend summer vacation. You meet a mysterious girl there. but nobody in the village knows who she is. Bewildered, you set off to find her. The Forest of Beginning has players interact with villagers just like Animal Crossing. Also like Animal Crossing there are mini-games like fishing and menko (a Japanese card game). The Forest of Beginning wasn’t widely distributed since it was only a Nintendo Power (not the magazine, the rewriteable Super Famicom cartridge) release.
The Forest of Beginning will be re-released as a Wii U Virtual Console download along with the Famicom version of The Tower of Druaga on August 21.