Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review

New Leaf Title

Title: Animal Cross: New Leaf
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: 3DS
NA Availability: 
Retail | Digital

EU Availability: Retail | Digital
Block Usage:  6,000

When you think of video games nowadays, you think of something with a clear goal to finish.  You play Freedom Wars and are set on reaching the final story boss and finishing the game.  You play Super Mario 3D Land and you’re aiming towards the final stage that gives you the End Credits.  You play Need for Speed: Most Wanted and you’re aiming for the last Most Wanted driver to take down.  Lots of games have a clear “End the Game” objective.

What isn’t so common anymore are casual games that have no objective.  Games where you just casually do what you wish as you play through the game with no “Final Boss” as it were.  The biggest casual experience I can think of is The Sims.  You can spend hours upon hours upon hours in The Sims, just doing whatever you want.  Making baby sims.  Sending your Sims to jobs.  The list goes on.

The handheld world doesn’t have many games like this, other than backwards compatible handheld Sims titles that lack the true depth of the PC experience.  What Nintendo has in place of that is the Animal Crossing series.  This has been a sort of simulation-type series ever since its debut on the Gamecube.  So, let’s dive into the first Animal Crossing game on the Nintendo 3DS.  Here is my review of Animal Crossing: New Leaf!

Story

New Leaf Story

The story of New Leaf surrounds you, a traveler to a town you’ve never visited before.  Upon arrival, you are shown as being the new Mayor of the town, completely a surprise and shock to you.  The residents of this town all congratulate you and a secretary assists you in settling into your town and duties as you move in and begin to expand and build up the town.

The story is very cute, as all Animal Crossing games are.  All of your residents are humanoid animals, from dogs and frogs to birds and panda bears.  The dialogue and theme in general is very casual, friendly, and cute.  It’s definitely got this charm to it with walking around and having this little town all to yourself with people greeting you, needing help with errands, among other things.

Gameplay

New Leaf Game 1

Animal Crossing is somewhat of a town simulation game.  In the game, you are building up your town in various ways, along with interacting with all of the residents, new and old, just like you are a friendly mayor.  Some also call it somewhat of a life simulator, mimicking the day-to-day life of living in a small town.  Regardless of what kind you call it, this is a simulation game, and a very casual one at that.

Every day, you have various things you can do.  There are various shops open, allowing you to buy certain things, like clothing, expansions to your house, tools to use out in town, furniture for your home, and more.  There are also other locations, like the Museum, where you can donate animals and fossils you find to be on display.  And one thing to note about the shops is that Animal Crossing’s time is the same as time in the real world.  So, if you go to a shop to sell your inventory late at night, the shop may not even be open.

The main tasks and main objectives are to assist the town to gain citizen approval and then do official Mayor business.  Obtaining approval is the first milestone that takes a while to reach.  To make the citizens happy with you as Mayor, you have to do a lot of things for them.  Pretty much anything you do helps, but some things help more than others.  Tasks like clearing the town of weeds, talking and helping citizens with requests, sending letters through the mail, changing the town’s official song and flag.  These kind of things will slowly, but surely, get your approval rating up.

Once you get 100% approval, you can start doing Mayor things, like implementing Ordinances or starting Projects.  Ordinances are basically town rules that change how your town works.  You can implement ordinances to alter how early your citizens get up or how late shops stay open.  There are also ordinances to help you increase your own money and sell prices for stuff you can find.  Then, projects are basically the ability to add new structures and landmarks to your town, assuming you and your citizens have the money to make it.

New Leaf Game 2

That brings up the biggest part of the game: Money.  The currency in Animal Crossing is known as Bells, and you get Bells by finding it or by selling your inventory items.  There are a million different ways to make money, and you need a lot of it to do pretty much anything, from paying off your house to implementing Ordinances.  Some ways are by selling fruit on your trees or seashells by the beach.  There are also rocks around town that can be hit by shovels or fossils already donated to the museum.  Every day, you can find 4 fossils and there is always a rock that turns into Ore and one that gives you bells.  Implementing that on a daily basis can get a decent income of bells.

Getting bells is also a bit of a repetitive part of the game.  While there are many animals that appear that will sell for a ton of money, they only appear during certain months of the year.  So, without that you rely on other means.  The game becomes repetitive when you’re doing the same tasks over and over and over and over again to get the bells you need for your current project or house loan.  You could spend an entire week of just doing the daily rocks and fossils for about 10,000 or so to afford a single project that costs nearly 100,000 bells.

The game also has multiplayer features you can use.  There is a Train Station that allows you to visit other players’ towns or them visit yours.  Once you do this, you can help each other out.  Anything in your inventory, you can give to them or they can give to you.  So, let’s say you both have a natural fruit of Apples and you have a Perfect Apple, which sells for a great deal more than normal ones.  You can give it to another player so they can plant Perfect Apples and have a great extra source of income because it’s so rare to find them.

Finally, let’s talk about length.  With this game, there is no ending.  There is just town simulation that is meant to be a casual all-year-round process.  New Leaf has many types of shops and services that become available on certain days of the week or on a permanent basis, even weeks after you start playing.  There are also holiday events all year round, so it’s not meant to be something you rush through and finish in a week or so.  It’s meant to be something you just pick up every day or so and keep that going.

Controls

The controls aren’t too hard to learn.  First off, New 3DS owners will not be able to use their fancy Z buttons or the C Stick in this game.  It came out well before the New 3DS and doesn’t use any of those new buttons.

You use the Circle Pad to move your character around your town.  The D-Pad is used to adjust the camera angle as well as being a quick way to equip the tools you have in your inventory.  If you move the Circle Pad while holding L, R, or B, you can run instead of walk.  A allows you to choose options in a menu or interact with people or tools.  Finally, X pulls up your inventory.

The touch screen is heavily used when managing your inventory.  There are button controls here too but they’re not nearly as convenient as the touch controls.

Presentation

New Leaf Pres

Visually, the game looks nice.  It’s much more proportioned than previous Animal Crossing games.  There are occasional little jagged edges, but nothing to be concerned about.  The world of New Leaf is very colorful and cute, as an Animal Crossing game is supposed to be.

Performance is also done well.  Load times are nice and short, and the frame rate never drops past its normal flow.

Summary

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a simulation game that really can change a gamer’s perspective on how to play games.  While it does get a little repetitive with gathering currency, it’s a game that simulates town life well and has near limitless options of what to do all year round. 

9/10

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