Let’s give a warm welcome to Animal Crossing: New Leaf, in which Tom Nook is back and ready to take as many of your bells as he possibly can.
For those who have never played Animal Crossing, the game runs in real time, and it drops you, a human, off in a town full of animals. You get your own house which you can remodel and furnish however you want; you pay off loans; you catch bugs, fish, sharks; you talk to neighbors; you buy things, sell things, find things, donate things. In essence, you create your own virtual presence in the game. And virtual presence indeed, as New Leaf pulls you in more than ever.
The biggest change to enter the Animal Crossing series is the new mayoral position. After being dropped off in town, you are immediately greeted and mistaken for the new town mayor. Unable to decline the position, you eventually get somewhat half-forced/half-persuaded into it. But being mayor isn’t such a terrible thing, as it gives you more freedom in the game. In previous Animal Crossing games, the greatest freedom for customization resided in the ability to furnish your house. Now, in addition to that, you can customize the town. You can build things wherever you want – benches, fountains, bridges, street lamps, fire hydrants – and you can tear them down.
Fortunately for New Leaf, the new customizations don’t stop there. Personalizing your character has taken a step forward. All clothes can now be worn regardless of gender, and there are more patterns, shirts, accessories, pants, and socks to be worn. The number of collectable bugs and fish have increased with the ability to dive under water, and the amount of content that can be unlocked has been given some extensive additions.
Strangely enough, those few changes are enough to make Animal Crossing an incredibly fresh game. There’s more freedom and literally more space to do things. Your adventures in Animal Crossing are no longer limited to only one island. There is an entire section dedicated to the shopping district, with more shops to slowly be unlocked over time. Playing with other players is much more convenient than in the times of Wild World, as we now have the ability to connect to wifi and play through the internet.
Old players will be glad to know that Nintendo did an excellent job of listening to their players. A few minor tweaks from Wild World managed to vastly improve the game. Little things like being able to select multiple things to sell at the store or multiple fossils to show Blathers speeds the game along nicely. As mayor, players are also able to enact “ordinances”, which can change things such as the economy or schedule of the town. The latter of the two allows players with restricting schedules to work around the difficulty of playing a game that runs in real time.
The essence of Animal Crossing has also remained the same. Nothing drastic has changed in the foundation that makes the game what it is. The gameplay is still strangely addictive, and there are quite a few familiar faces among all the new ones, giving old players a niche to fall into.
Still, this means that Animal Crossing still isn’t for everyone, least of all the fast-paced gamer. This isn’t a game that can be played through all at once. It’s meant to be slow and relaxing, as it can take up to days for things to happen. The one downfall to this is that while some people will find New Leaf addictive, others might find it mundane and repetitive.
- Pros: More options and freedom. More items to unlock. Ease of use for multiplayer feature. Larger playable area. Everything is much more customizable. Minor fixes from Wild World.
- Cons: Takes a while to pick up speed in the beginning. Infrequent playing can result in negative consequences such as weeds and neighbors leaving. Difficult to play at odd hours because game runs in real time. Some might find it mundane and repetitive.