This is the first time that I’ve actually come across an Animal Crossing game. I’ve heard all the wonderful tales and the occasional sob story that have come from both the first game on the Nintendo Gamecube and the sequels on the Nintendo DS and Wii, but I never got a chance to experience the unique gameplay on my own. I really don’t know why I never got to it, but I finally had a chance to experience all the simulation goodness with Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and I must say that it was definitively worth the wait.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Developed and published by Nintendo
Available on the Nintendo 3DS
*Review code provided by Nintendo
In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, players step into the role of the mayor of their very own town. After a quick conversation with a quirky cat, players step out of a train only to find out that they are in charge of the well-being of a growing town and its anthropomorphic animal inhabitants. The challenge of settling down in your own place while getting to know the ins and outs of being a mayor might sound a bit daunting at first, but soon enough you are schooled in Mayoring 101 by a nice dog lady named Isabelle.
You might as well know by now that Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a unique game. It’s a simulation of sorts, running completely in real-time. Players run around their unique towns with their avatars and do a large variety of things, like picking fruits from trees, catching bugs and fish, digging for fossils, and conversing with all of your animal neighbors. There are no time limits and no game over screens. You just live in the game and help it prosper, and as boring as it might sound, it’s quite the opposite. This game is as addictive as they come, and that’s a good thing.
As a mayor, it’s your job to help your town prosper. To do so, players must gain the trust of their peers by conversing and making friends, cleaning up the town and donating new specimens to the local museum. Once enough trust is earned, players can then order the construction of new additions to the town, like statues, bridges, wells, and more, or place ordinances in order to slowly transform the town, like becoming wealthier, or having it become more beauty oriented. While you’ll be doing the bulk of the work in transforming the town into the way you’d like it, residents will occasionally lend a hand or two, and if you do a great job new residents will even pop up here and there to populate your place, or open new shops and spots to check out.
It’s not all about playing leader though, as you also get to pimp up your residence to epic proportions. At first you start out the game with just a tent and a mailbox, but after paying off the initial loan with sold fruits, bugs, fish, shells, and more, players can expand the space provided by their homes and even get additional floors. With all this space, you can place furniture bought in the store or that has been gifted to you by others to create the house of your dreams. From the wallpaper and rugs to all the fixtures inside, your house is completely customizable with everything you can get your hands on. It’s pretty fun to see what you can come up with, especially since there is so many items available to you in-game. You have to work to get each and every piece though, as most of them cost money.
You can also customize your avatar until your heart is content. From hair and accessories to clothing, players can choose what they look like buy buying clothing, getting gifts, or creating their own patterns via the touch screen. You can dress your avatar as a hipster, or as a superhero. The choice is yours, and it’s fantastic.
What’s great about Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the fact that it runs in real-time. This means that the game has a 24-hour day and 7-day week timer, and has day and night cycles. Certain bugs, fish, and shops open during certain times of the day, and some animals and shops are available once a week. Shops are constantly changing up the items offered, and most close during the nighttime. This requires the player to constantly check up on the game like if it was a second living, breathing world, just so they can get certain items or meet certain people. It certainly feels like a living one too, with the animal inhabitants constantly checking up on you, writing letters, and even scheduling dates so you can check out their houses. There’s the occasional activity too, where the whole town meets up and participates in fun events like bug catching or checking out fireworks. The game does an excellent job at creating a world that you want to invest your time in, constantly keeping you engrossed with witty writing, surprising events and encounters, and all the good fun you’ll be having.
You don’t have to enjoy playing house alone either. Animal Crossing: New Leaf features multiplayer, both ad-hoc and online. You and your friends can visit each other’s towns via the train system, trade an item or two and even partake in activities like fishing and hunting. It’s quite cool to see your friends run around and compliment all the hard work you’ve put into making your town a unique one, or visiting theirs to see how far along they’ve come.
After pouring countless hours into creating the house and town of your dreams, you’ll realize that Animal Crossing: New Leaf is one of the best games on the Nintendo 3DS so far. While the game may seem repetitive at first glance and there is no real objective, the game keeps players glued to their screens with simple gameplay and the urge to further improve the lives of their in-game selves. If you feel the need to kill some time (a lot of time!) and run a second life (no pun intended), then you should definitively check this title out.
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