Animal Crossing is one of those Nintendo games that have a very dedicated group of fans. Much of this can be attributed to the massive amount of customization and level of control players have with their personal towns. The first game was originally released on the Nintendo GameCube, followed by a successful sequel on the DS. Now Animal Crossing has come to Nintendo’s newest handheld the 3DS. With a number of changes to address many of the concerns from players about the previous installments, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is looking to bring a whole new group of gamers to the franchise. Get ready to wave goodbye to a large portion of your time, because it will all be spent playing this game.
Animal Crossing New Leaf is the epitome of a relaxation game. There really isn’t a true ending to playing an Animal Crossing game, much of what you get is based on the time you put into customizing your house and building up your town. At the very start, a series of questions helps determine your character’s basic look, as well as the layout and landscape of your personal town. Shortly after arriving in town, your character becomes the new mayor and becomes tasked with helping the townsfolk prosper. There never really is a sense of urgency or dilemma in any part of the game, despite events passing in real-time and the game presenting players with various tasks. You can pretty much accomplish anything you like when you please, the game doesn’t really penalize you for taking your sweet time.
Once you have your home established and you’re in the mayor’s seat, the game vastly opens up and allows the freedom to choose what will be done next. You can order the creation of buildings with the help of donations from townsfolk, raise enough funds to pay off your home loan and expand your residence, and even converse with townsfolk and gauge their views on your mayor-ly duties.
Much of anything done is dependent on saving up enough bells, the game’s currency, to accomplish what you wish. Trying to raise enough bells can be a little repetitive in many instances, but quickly you’ll find yourself so engrossed into developing your town that hours will pass by like minutes. Literally, playing the game can be that addicting. From catching bugs, to fishing, to auctioning off furniture; there is a ton of ways to gather enough resources to feed your addiction to developing your own personal town.
For New Leaf on the 3DS, there have been some major changes from previous installments that have been for the better. Paying off your home loan to Tom Nook happens much faster and allows you to quickly expand your residence, opening up some fun creative options for your home. There is a wide variety of items to place in your home, paint and wallpapers for your buildings, and clothing options to have your character wear; making your house and your town completely feel like your overall creation. What is really clever is the assortment of Nintendo-themed items that can be acquired daily for both your home and your character, which range from Nintendo-themed clothing or display pieces. All of which will be very popular among those who share their enthusiasm for the franchise with other people.
Speaking of other people, New Leaf allows players to share their homes and characters through the use of the 3DS StreePass. This is the perfect tool for a game like Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Being able to share your personalized home after hours of effort creating it is a huge positive, giving even more things to explore beyond just the main game. While exploring other’s homes, you can purchase the items they have on display and add them to your own collection. This makes using StreetPass really worthwhile as it’s another outlet in the game to help build up your home or even make some extra bells from the auction house. What’s even cooler is the ability to explore other player’s town through the Dream Suite, and while none of the changes you do within Dream Suite are permanent, it is still great to be able to see what others have been doing with their towns.
What is interesting about New Leaf compared to previous versions of Animal Crossing is the way the game handles Time Traveling. Time Traveling is done by changing the date and time when you first boot up the game and continue from the main menu, not by changing the 3DS date and time. While there are plenty positives to travel forward or backward in time such as speeding up or repeating events, there are also a slew of negatives to ensure that it’s not abused. This is both a good and bad thing overall. Time traveling allows you to get past some of the more tedious and boring wait periods when developing your town. Yet at the same time your town can suffer from growing weeds, cockroaches in your home, and/or townsfolk moving away without warning. Having this gives the player a great deal of control over the kind of game they will play, but has just enough to hold them back from going completely overboard.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a must own title for anyone with a 3DS system. While there may not be any sort of crazy action or urgency, there is a really meaty game under the tranquil appearance of New Leaf. Players will find themselves engrossed in a game that will have them playing for an endless amount of hours trying to make their ideal home and town, and then share them with everyone else. You can bet people will be playing this version of Animal Crossing for a very long time, and rightly so. It’s just that damn addicting.
This review was based on a digital review copy of the game for the 3DS provided by Nintendo.