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Game Review: Animal Crossing New Leaf

June 30, 2013

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the fourth entry in the Animal Crossing franchise, and is the sequel to the hit Nintendo DS game Animal Crossing: Wild World. The first game in the series was originally released on the Nintendo 64 (in Japan only) around 2001, but eventually was ported over to the Gamecube, where it first reached North America in 2002. New Leaf was released in Japan in Fall 2012, but localization took a little bit longer for North America, where it was finally released in June 2013. Despite this delay due to long periods of localization, you could technically say this is the 10th anniversary game (at least for North America) for the Animal Crossing franchise.

Animal Crossing fans have been waiting a very long time for this game to be released for the 3DS, especially North American and European fans. I myself was a big fan of the original Animal Crossing and Animal Crossing: Wild World for it’s very addicting style of gameplay/collection, while allowing for great interaction between other owners of the game. However, I was not the biggest fan of Animal Crossing: City Folk, although that may be because I prefer Animal Crossing handheld games.

With the game finally out worldwide, and becoming one of the best-selling 3DS games (and a system seller to boot), is this game worth trying out if you’re a newcomer to the series? What about if you’ve played the old games? And is it worth getting a 3DS if you don’t have one? It’s time to hop on the train and explore this new world. Welcome to Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

The Basics: Gameplay and Graphics

For those who haven’t played an Animal Crossing game before, allow me to explain the series to you. You start as a person moving into a new town (Which you will be able to name/map out how your town is set up before hand.) Lacking a place to live, you take out a loan from the always pleasant Tom Nook and attempt to pay off your loan. Yes, this game has many elements to it that remind you of real life. In order to pay off your debt (as well as upgrade your home in the future, as well as customize your home with furniture and other things), you’ll have to buy, sell, and collect items. Heck, outside of paying off your debt, your challenge will be to collect all kinds of things. From fossils, to fish, to bugs, ect. You’ll also have to keep your town looking nice, interact with your neighbors, upgrade stores by buying things from them, collect special types of furniture and items. If you haven’t guessed, this is a very heavy collecting/social interaction game, especially when you interact with other game owners through local wireless and the internet. This is very similar to the game of life (not that game of life… the one that isn’t the board game.) Only without the stress of having to pay off your debt by a certain time, being forced to have a job, eating, sleeping, ect. Essentially, it’s life, without all most of the stressful things you have to worry about.

This time around though (unlike previous games) is a bit different though. Unlike previous games, you now also have the task of being the mayor (Long story short… the last guy wasn’t exactly up for the job. No, that wasn’t supposed to sound like he’s “sleeping with the fishes” or run out-of-town. For some reason, he couldn’t be mayor, and everyone thinks you’re the mayor after a classic mix-up. Just go with it.) While this will allow more freedom to customize/make the town exactly what you want, it also brings the added responsibility of making sure your town’s citizens are happy. Yes, it’s most of what you had to do in the previous games (despite not being the mayor), but now you have an actual reason to make sure everything in the town is running smoothly.

This is without a doubt one of the nicest looking Animal Crossing games to date. It is definitely looks much better than the Nintendo DS version, thanks to the upgraded capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS. A lot of love and detail was put into this game, and although the usual crowd will be willing to write off the game because of its art style, this really, truly is a nice looking 3DS game.

Story: What are you trying to do?

Ha! Story! What story? Did I not explain above what this game was about? This is a social interaction/collecting game. There’s no story. Sorry.

Issues: Does it have any major flaws worth noting?

When it was stated by many that Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the definitive version of the game, they weren’t kidding. The 3DS version of the game brings back every good thing about the first three games and improves upon each and every one of those features that made those games awesome. You have a customizable town and house. Interaction between players has never been easier thanks to the return of a new upgraded handheld version, which I feel suits this series the best versus the console versions. And the city/shopping center from City Folk is now much easier to get to. Not to mention, along with refining the game, it brought along the added new ability to be the mayor, expanding what you can do in the game, and making the series more fresh than ever before.

The only issues I can think of are just nitpicks. Things like keeping a separate holding area for tools would be helpful. I wish I could have a little bit more freedom to choose where shops are located in the shopping area like some building/public works projects in town. But even then, it doesn’t hurt game at all. It only makes me excited for a future version to hopefully give me some of these features I want, and surprise me with something else to make this beloved series more awesome.

The Recommendation: Is this game right for you?

There’s a lot of people and a lot of reasons why people enjoy playing video games. From those looking for a solo experience, to those looking to entertain. Let’s see whether or not Animal Crossing: New Leaf can appeal to you.

For Solo Players: If you love collecting and managing things, trying to unlock every little place, exploring every little nook and cranny a game has to offer, this game is perfect for you. Animal Crossing: New Leaf has the unique ability to not have a limit on how long you can play the game. You get out of the game what you put into it. As long as you want to keep upgrading your house, you can. As long as you want to keep collecting things for your museum, you can. As long as you want to unlock shops, and manage your town, you can. As long as you want to interact with your neighbors, you can. This is not a game where I can say “I beat this in X amount of time.” You play it and enjoy it as long as you want. I can already say right now that this is my most played 3DS game. In fact, at the time of this writing, I’ve clocked in 60 hours into this game. And I still have much, much more to do.

But with that said, I come with a warning. A few warning actually. First off, this is not a game for everyone. In fact, a comment from one friend of mine watching me play the game wondered how this was actually a game. Like I said earlier, this game is a very heavy collector/social interaction game. But that means no massive difficulties, no testing your video game skills. Just collecting, and talking to people (with the occasional mini-games here and there.) There will be people who I can’t recommend this game to based on the gameplay style. In addition, unless you time travel by manipulating the in-game clock (you can do this without messing up your 3DS clock, but you better make sure the beauty ordinance has been initiated while you are mayor so your town doesn’t start looking bad) you will be limited by the time stores are open, what items you have, and what you have access to. Like real life, there’s only so much you can do in one day. And like real life, not everything is available to you every hour of the day, or everyday either. There will be limits to what you can do at certain times. This is game that you can play overtime for long periods of time, but you may have limits to in the short-term.

In addition, there may be a point where you get bored with the game yourself if you don’t play it with others, use streetpass/spotpass, ect. There is no ending. When you feel you are done, you’re done. Like I said, you get out of this game what you put in. Just like real life. This different style of gameplay, how much content/enjoyment you get from this game makes it difficult to recommend to everyone. But those people who the game clicks with will find this game worth the price.

For those with more than one player: There’s one of two ways you can interact with multiple people in your home/in your group of friends with this game. Does only one person in your family have a 3DS/a copy of this game? No problem, you can have up to four players living in your town, whom can work together to accomplish tasks much faster (BUT, only one player can be the mayor.) Have other friends who have the game? You can interact with them in many ways while playing. When sharing a game, the limitations are the same as above. Playing with other game owners adds to the experience and makes the game even more fun. Of course, as with all games, there may be a point where the amount of people you play with goes down. Just keep that in mind, especially for those getting the game in the future. At the time this is being written, now is the time when exclusive timed items and spotpass features are all coming out, as well as when most people are playing/want to play the game. Buying the game later won’t limit you from trying out any features, but those looking for the most amount of interaction and extra content may want to consider getting the game now. Of course, that’s not to say that the holidays won’t bring in more players, nor that you won’t be able to find anyone to play with you if you buy the game later. Just a word of caution is all.

For those looking for a good story: I’m sorry, but if this is the kind of game you prefer to buy, you shouldn’t get Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

Overall: Animal Crossing: New Leaf is without a doubt one of the top titles to own on the Nintendo 3DS. It’s not for everyone, but those that like this kind of gameplay will find themselves playing for a long time to come. This isn’t a game that can be finished within one weekend and then there is nothing more to do. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a game that, when played properly, will get you so many hours of gameplay and enjoyment. Unless you are one of the people I said wouldn’t like the game, or you never cared for the Animal Crossing series, don’t buy it. If you’re new to the series and own a 3DS, give it a try. If you have ever been a fan of the Animal Crossing series, buy it. It is worth your time. In fact, I’d not only recommend this game in a heart beat, I’d say this game could easily justify getting a 3DS for those who don’t own the handheld (and once you’re done playing Animal Crossing, you’ll have plenty of other fantastic titles to enjoy on your new 3DS.) Once again, welcome to Animal Crossing. You’re going to be spending a lot of time here. And trust me, you won’t regret it.

For more Video Game news and reviews, check back here at Save Us From Obscurity regularly. And for additional/breaking news, as well as my own mindless rambling, follow @TSilentWatcher.

Thanks for reading my review! Feel free to comment/critique below, as your feedback will continue to make the site better. Until next time!

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One Comment
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