Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review
By Max Roberts
Oozing. Oozing is one of my favorite words. I sounds so cool when you say it and it puts such a clear image in your mind. Just say it with me: Oozing. I love using it in my writing and I love when other people use the word too. I am sure you can see where this is going…
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is oozing with content. It truly is a game that could never end; it has that much content. It doesn’t all hit you as soon as you hit the power button though. No, like I said, it oozes out (all right I’m done). The game gradually teaches you it’s core mechanics and adds new layers that you will want to experience. Somehow Nintendo has struck a true addictive formula with it’s Animal Crossing franchise, and New Leaf evolves and expands on that formula in small, powerful new ways. Animal Crossing: New Leaf really perfects on what makes the franchise such a delight and will keep people coming back day after day after day.
If you’ve played an Animal Crossing game before then you’ll find that the core mechanics are the same. You still pick fruit, find fossils, hunt for bugs and fish, and owe that raccoon Tom Nook exorbitant amounts of Bells (the game’s currency) to remodel your house. For those of you who are brand new to the franchise, that may have sounded strange. “Pick fruit? That’s addicting?” Frankly, it is. Animal Crossing is all about living your life in this virtual world. Every day is a new experience. The game passes in real time, so when you are told that your house will be completed tomorrow, the game literally means tomorrow. As you wait for that house remodel you may start collecting fruits and shells to sell to pay of the loan or you could go fishing and donate them to your town’s museum. Animal Crossing is a franchise all about doing what you want, when you want, and how you want it. The game is all at your own pace and is often a fantastic break during the day or after playing a more intense game.
What sets New Leaf apart from the other entries in the franchise is that you assume the role of mayor in your town, not just a citizen. When you step of the train, you are greeted by the townspeople and given the job of mayor. With this new found power you have more creative freedom over your town than ever before. You choose the layout of your town, start up public works projects, and establish new shops on Main Street.
Public works projects are simple donation funded projects that everyone in town may enjoy. From coffee shops to building additional bridges (a first for the series), you select the town’s next project and start accepting donations right away. Some projects are simpler, such as benches or signs, but others can expand your gameplay experience entirely such as the Dream Suite and the Campsite.
The Campsite is small, permanent area in your town where random animals may come to spend their camping trip. What makes this unique is that, if you pester them long enough and have space, those animals may move into your town. You may also receive special items from them that you would not find anywhere else. The Dream Suite on the other hand expands your experience not only in-game, but through wireless communications too.
One of the issues veterans of the franchise have always had is letting their friends visit their town via wireless communication. Often the visit will go smoothly, trading fruit and shopping, but occasionally your friend will betray your trust. They will suddenly chop down your fruit trees, kill your flowers, and raid your fossils, all for a laugh. It is borderline evil. The Dream Suite removes that issue entirely by sending out a “dream” version of your town. It is in every way identical, except that no matter what your friends take or destroy, it will not damage your actual town. It is a wonderful new feature and is great for when you need to chop a tree or two down.
Just north of your town is Main Street. This is New Leaf’s equivalent to City Folk’s new city feature. Main Street is where all your shops and the museum reside. The cool part about Main Street is that it is always expanding and changing. New shops pop up frequently, and those already established expand and stay open longer. I am over a month in and I am just now getting Shampoodle (the franchise’s signature hair salon) and the shoe store Kicks just opened. There is never a dull moment on Main Street.
Another cool, unique feature is the fortune cookies you can buy from Nookling Junction, the game’s convenience store. Animal Crossing has always stayed separate from other iconic Nintendo franchises, but not anymore. Players may buy a fortune cookie, once a day for two play coins. Inside is, of course, a fortune. When you turn in your fortune, you are rewarded with a special Nintendo themed item, such as Link’s cap or a 1-Up Mushroom. These fortune cookies quickly turn addicting as you’ll want to collect all fifty special Nintendo items.
Along with the ability to customize your town, customizing your character has grown as well. The characters are now stretched out, adding the ability to add socks and shoes. While a taller character may sound trivial, it really adds to the game and making your experience truly your own.
The strongest feature in Animal Crossing is the sense of community it has within. The local and online features in New Leaf really are strong and make that community even stronger. Whether through the Dream Suite or on the train, you can visit a friend’s town in a snap. The text-chat works very well with the touch screen and makes typing fast. A new best friend feature even allows players to chat online, even when they are not in the same town. Nintendo has superbly incorporated Street Pass into the game as well. When you pass another Animal Crossing player, each players home is beamed to the other 3DS and can be viewed in the Happy Homes Academy. Once inside and browsing all these homes, you can even buy their furniture and have it sent to your home, although at a hefty cost.
After taking on all the duties as a mayor, you may need a tiny vacation. New Leaf even provides a place for you to do just that. The Tropical Island is summertime year-round and has exotic fish and beetles that you may only catch there. Some of those creatures may only be out in the ocean deep, how would you catch those? Easy, just put on a dive suit and go swimming! The island also is a great place to visit with your friends, since it features mini games for you all to play together. Also, make sure you listen to good ol’ Kap’n on the boat ride over, he’ll sing you a song.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is just that; a new leaf. Nintendo has taken their secret addictive formula for Animal Crossing and added quite a bit more to make the experience all the better and personal. The ability to be the mayor really changes the franchise and gives you near total control of your town from the start. Between the in-game community and the online community, New Leaf is the largest Animal Crossing to date and doesn’t seem to be shrinking anytime soon. With this much content and fun activities, Animal Crossing: New Leaf truly is a game that could never end.