on November 8, 2013
Animal Crossing New Leaf. Where do I even begin? Well first, let me talk about the hype behind this game. Pretty much ever since the 3DS came out, I heard tale of a new Animal Crossing game for the 3DS. I’ve been a longtime fan of Animal Crossing (ever since middle school), and I played Wild World to death. I eventually bought a 3DS just so that I could play New Leaf. As it turns out, the release date was constantly pushed back, and it felt that I would never be able to play the game. However, as the release date drew closer, the tension began to rise. Nintendo kept posting videos about the game, which made me want to play it even more. Finally the game released and my copy was shipped to me. I literally could not sit still while I waited for my package to arrive. I checked the tracking info every few hours just to see if it was any closer. When it finally arrived, I was ecstatic. I furiously played through the game for the first few weeks after that, and I still play it to this day.
Usually when I review a game, I make sure I completely finish the game (or get as far as I can in the game) before doing so, however this game doesn’t really have an “end,” and since it’s been almost two months since the game was released, I think it’s high time that I do my review.
In New Leaf, you play as a young person moving to a new town. What you don’t realize is that when you arrive there, the anthropomorphic citizens think that you’re their mayor. The plucky secretary won’t take no for an answer, and you very shortly begin life as the mayor of this small town full of animals. You don’t even have a house, but luckily real estate tycoon Tom Nook agrees to build you a house that you can pay off at your leisure. Before the house can be built, you have to live in a tent while you complete your mayoral duties. After that, you can build expansions to your house after you pay off your loan, and you can work your way up to a huge mansion. Along the way, you can decorate the inside of your house with hundreds of different pieces of furniture ranging from the familiar to the exotic.
The characters in your town are all different kinds of animals, yet they all act very much like people. It’s often funny to read their dialogue and see just how normal they can be, despite being frogs, rabbits, ducks, alligators, etc. There are so many different possible villagers, and it’s exciting to see someone move in, because you never know what kind of interesting character you’ll get next.
However, this much is very similar to past Animal Crossing games. What sets New Leaf apart is your role as the mayor. As such, you can shape the town to your liking, building decorations and much more. You can enact one of four Ordinances (such as the Night Owl ordinance, which allows your shops to stay open later), to shape how you interact with your town. You can also build Public Works Projects, which can range from benches, fountains, and street lamps, to new buildings, and remodeling existing structures. Of course, you’ll mainly be paying for these yourself, and as such you’ll have to collect upwards of 50,000 Bells (the game’s currency) to pay these off. Some projects cost almost 200,000 Bells, and take a while to pay off.
To make money in New Leaf, you can sell a variety of things you find around town. You can sell fruit, which is more valuable if it’s not native to your town, fish, which you can catch in the rivers and ocean, bugs, which you catch with a net, and much more. There are loads of ways to make money, and you’ll be spending a lot of time doing so.
One of the best ways to make money in New Leaf is by going to the Island, a new feature which opens up in your first week of playing. It costs 1,000 Bells to go to the Island, but once there you can catch all sorts of exotic fish and bugs, as well as find Island-exclusive fruit. You can also go on “tours,” which are fun minigames that let you compete for medals, which you can exchange for exclusive items and furniture. You can also use a feature called “Club Tortimer” to connect to random players via Wi-Fi and play minigames with them. One thing I have to say, though, is that the island is rather over-powered, in that you make way more money from the island than you can in your town, so most players will spend almost their entire time on the island.
When you’re not catching expensive beetles, you can visit the many shops on your Main Street. Returning are series-staples, such as the Nook Convenience store (run by Nook’s nephews, Timmy and Tommy) and the Able Sisters tailor shop, where you can purchase new shirts, pants, and headgear to customize your character. As you progress through the game, however, new shops will start to open up, including a garden shop and a shoe store. What I like about all these places is that they take a while to open up. Many won’t even open until a month or so after you’ve played through the game, so it rewards you for sticking with the game, and makes sure you don’t rush through the game in a week and move on to something else. Also, many of the shops expand, so you’ll get lots of improvements to the shops that appear in your town.
You can also connect to others via StreetPass, and their house will appear in your Happy Home Association Showcase, where you can go through a copy of their house and order any of the furniture you see there. Also, once a place called the Dream Suite opens up, you can generate a Dream Code, which allows anyone to access a copy of your town in their own game. They can run through the town, cut down your trees, or anything they want, and it’ll reset once they leave. It’s a good way to let anyone see your town without actually opening your gates to them. Of course, you can always do good old-fashioned multiplayer, and have your friends visit your town via local wireless or Wi-Fi. I’ve noticed that the game BSoD’s you a lot less on Wi-Fi than Wild World did (although it does pay to save frequently). One interesting feature is it lets you register “best friends,” and only open your town to your “best friends.” Plus, the game will show you when your best friends are online, and you can send them instant messages via Wi-Fi. It’s not super sophisticated, but it does make it much easier to see who’s online and say “Hey, wanna visit my town?”
One problem I had was that there’s no way to know where a villager is going to move in until right before they do so. In previous games, there were signs around town that marked where potential houses could be, however there aren’t any signs in New Leaf, so one day someone could build a house right on top of one of your exotic fruit trees. This can be really annoying, and it really shouldn’t be a thing at all.
Animal Crossing games have always been relaxing and fun to look at, and New Leaf is no different. The characters are much taller than in past AC games, and it makes a lot more sense. The game also looks really good in 3D, although I can really only play in 3D for a little while before it hurts my eyes. The textures seem a lot different than before. They often look rather shiny, yet a bit fuzzy. It’s really hard to describe, but once you play the game it makes sense. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just something I’ve noticed.
The music is pretty decent, but it doesn’t really stand out, with the exception of one or two songs. I can’t say I like it as much as Wild World music. The nighttime music is especially calming, and I often find myself about to nod off as I play the game.
Animal Crossing New Leaf is an adorable game, and it’s an absolute delight to play. It keeps you coming back every day to see all the new things, and keeps you invested long-term in its many projects. The townsfolk are funny and adorable, and you’ll be sad when your favorite villager moves out. Basically, it’s worth all the hype, and if you’re an Animal Crossing fan, you owe it to yourself to get this game. Even if you’re not, you’ll probably fall in love with the game. It’s most definitely the 3DS’s killer app.
- Lots of features
- Great pacing
- Something to do every day
- Expansive customization
- Great multiplayer features
- The Island is a bit unbalanced
- No way to tell where villagers will move in
- Music is nothing special
Final Score: 9.5/10