Animal Crossing New Leaf, 3DS, Nintendo, 2013.
Animal Crossing was what I’d describe as a sleeper hit when it first came out on the Gamecube. The game warranted enough attention to have sequels on the Wii and Wii U and portable with the DS and 3DS. The cute characters and childlike graphics would have you thinking this game is for children when it’s really accessible to all ages. There’s a real innocence quality to Animal Crossing, but make no mistake it isn’t quite child’s play.
In New Leaf you move into a new town as the only human around anthropomorphic animals. When you arrive everyone mistakes you for the new mayor and decide that surely you must be the mayor. The citizens trust you to serve them and with handling day to day town activities. You’re given shelter and a mortgage, let your new life begin!
You’ll be doing plenty of fishing, catching bugs, searching for fossils and fruits. These activities occupy a lot of your time, it’s by doing them that money (bells) will come. You’ll then be able to pay off your mortgage and move into another, bigger, better house— with a heftier mortgage, of course. The mayoral part of the game is fun as well, if not challenging. Conducting ordinances, expanding, developing, building, creating, and maintaining citizen satisfaction is easier said than done. How much or little time you devote to these activities is completely up to you.
The translation from home console to portable was already well executed with Animal Crossing Wild World for the Nintendo DS. If you ask me, New Leafs builds on what it’s DS counterpart does and exceeds it in every way. The 3DS version is beautifully simplistic with that trademark bright coloured Nintendo-style graphics. The portable experience is massively satisfying and provides most of what the home console versions do. I somehow always end up curled up with my 3DS and New Leaf.
It wasn’t made with hardcore gamers in mind, but it’s very addictive. Rather, Animal Crossing is a game that you play at your leisure. You find yourself constantly wanting to upgrade your house, the stores, developing your town. It all takes time and patience. For these reasons, Animal Crossing won’t be for everybody (especially if one lacks patience). It is best played casually, here and there everyday than in large chunks of time otherwise it might get a little redundant.
Animal Crossing deviates from the norm by being a game focused on normal, everyday activities and interactions instead of shooters and sci-fi-inspired titles that are all the rage today.
One of my favourite aspects of New Leaf is the customization. From the way you look and dress to how you decorate your house and the items you can purchase, the customization opportunities are ever present. Naming your town, nicknames, putting items up for sale on the flea market, building bridges and infrastructures around town… It goes on and on. Going for a new haircut, shopping for clothes and new furniture sounds tame, but believe me when l say these little things are exciting and part of the experience of Animal Crossing.
The habitants will always differ from city to city. Perhaps your friend will have a dragon living in his town and you’ll have a horse instead. Even when you start over and begin a new town or get a new habitant in your town, it really is the luck of the draw. It keeps it interesting and fresh. There are also different types of characters with their own quirks and behaviors which adds to the fun. They often want you to get them fruit or do tasks such as deliveries which can sometimes get a little repetitive. I wish the habitants offered a wider range of tasks and challenges.
You can also catch a boat to Tortimer lsland which is a lot of fun. The island has different species of fish and bugs, that are all the more valuable. With these, you can complete the museum’s collection. The museum? Yep, there’s more to the game than you realize. Buying from and selling items to Re-Tail and Nook’s Junction for instance. It’s fairly easy to understand the game, pick it up amd plag right away whether you’re a veteran or a newbie.
Animal Crossing mirrors real life. If it’s winter, there will be snow. Likewise if it’s 10:30 A.M. where you live, it will also be the time in New Leaf. The stores have day hours and will close after a certain hour, adding a touch of reality to the game. If it’s night in realtime, it will also be night in the game.
I played the original Animal Crossing on the Nintendo Gamecube and loved it. It’s with confidence that l say it remains every bit the enjoyable experience it ever was. I’ve had New Leaf for almost 3 years and l keep going back to it. Every so often l’ll restart my town and rebuild my town from scratch. It’s always fun to try to achieve your perfect town. New Leaf is incredibly satisfying if you have an itch for a portable Animal Crossing or if it’s your first time playing. Fun or children and adult alike and at the risk of repeating myself—addictive!