Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the latest iteration of the cute life simulator Nintendo franchise. Developed by Nintendo and Monolith, this is the most fleshed out and full Animal Crossing to date.
Animal Crossing has always had simplistic but engaging life simulation gameplay since its culmination on the west on the Gamecube (Nintendo 64 in Japan). The games had you cutting trees, bug catching, fishing and other such fun little activities to raise money, pay off your debts to Tom Nook and make friends in the town. While the core mechanics remain fairly similar here, Animal Crossing New Leaf’s twisted the entire concept by making the player the mayor of the town, giving them town-wide responsibilities such as maintaining citizen approval, keeping the town clean and sprucing up your own place as best as you can (while paying off Nook’s stinking debts).
As per the norm, the ‘story’ begins with your avatar, a random villager, moving to a new town. Another character interviews you and the questions you answer set the stage for the game. You can choose a randomly generated map to be your town, a variety of attributes such as gender, names and other things. All of this becomes a part of your identification as mayor and also how the entire game will play out as long as you maintain your save file.
When you play the game, you will start out with practically nothing but a shabby tent until your house is set up. Nook charges you plenty for your down payment and much more overall. This gives you a lot of time to do other things (as Nook gives you as much time as possible to pay off the loan), such as picking trees of your town’s common fruit, talk to your neighbors and engage in other activities. Picking weeds and doing other friendly deeds will improve your approval rating and bring you closer to your goal of being a good mayor and shaping a fun and thriving town.
Be prepared to play the game in short bursts across several days at least. There are many instances where characters will reward you for your efforts, but often those rewards will have to wait until “tomorrow.” For example, after I paid off my down payment to Nook, I was told to wait a few days for the house to be built and he was not kidding. Animal Crossing’s sense of time is real time, so when it is morning for you in real life, it will be morning in the game (provided you set your timezone’s hour as the game’s).
Online Multiplayer works quite well. Like in the previous game on Wii, players can visit their friends’ towns and engage in a variety of fun activities. You can give each other presents, help each other accomplish tasks and play multiplayer games. Players can open their gates to allow friends or StreetPassers to visit their towns through local wireless connections as well as online. The multiplayer is virtually lagless and even offers an immersive way to merge the interactions of your towns. For example, a kitten character in my friends’ town (whom I visited early on) actually became a resident in my own town and asked me to take her to other towns. It was very interesting to see these interactions occur so randomly. It was almost like an MMO.
New Leaf doesn’t seem like a particularly taxing game and its art style is ultimately identical to earlier iterations. Character models are cutesy and stubby in nature, and textures are just as simplistic. Your villager avatar can show a variety of different emotions and wear a vast array of accessories and clothes, but all-in-all the style remains. In the end, it all matches the game’s cutesy aesthetic and the graphics work well enough for what they are doing. If you have played a previous Animal Crossing game, the graphics in this iteration will not really surprise you. That’s not to say they are inherently bad, or even all that flawed mind you. They do precisely what they should.
The soundtrack in this game is nothing short of brilliant. Cute little towns help make for a relaxing world, and KK Slider’s DJ and guitar music are bouncy and fun. The compositions involved are extremely creative with DJ’d mixes of Slider’s songs from earlier games, as well as songs performed exclusively on the groovy pup’s acoustic on Saturday nights. Fun and familiar sound effects are used on recognizable items such as the Mario coin and Master sword from the Mario and Zelda games respectively. Character dialogue is adorable high pitched mumbling, occasionally actually enunciating the words being spoken. If there is one thing you will not like about this game, it probably won’t have anything to do with the soundtrack.
Replay Value: 5/5
This game has replay value. A LOT of replay value. With the amount of activities to do, characters to interact with and friends to share stories and experiences with, you will find this game has a great deal of longevity. Paying off your loans will not happen over night and it won’t be a boring chore to get there.
Overall Score: 19/20 = 9.5 out of 10
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a must have game for any 3DS owner looking for a social experience with a little more depth than the latest Facebook game or microtransaction ridden free-to-play game. Animal Crossing is fun to play, fun to listen to and just plain fun. There’s very little I don’t like about this game. If you have friends who play this game, there’s no better time to jump in.
+Fun, replayable gameplay
+Cute and quarky soundtrack
+Solid multiplayer aspects
+Very full and interactive experience
-Graphics are familiarly basic
Copy purchased by author for review purposes.
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