Review: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo
It’s 2004, and you just got your hands on this curious Nintendo GameCube title that
had a unique gimmick: things happen in the game in real time, and events will happen
even if you don’t see them. Little did you know that you had one of the top ten best-
Animal Crossing as a whole is just one of those things that sounds bad when you explain it, but is so much better to experience. A game about paying off your debt to a raccoon by selling bugs and fish in a village full of animals should sound ridiculous, and let nobody tell you otherwise, but so are most games that are fun. And that’s what Animal Crossing: New Leaf is: fun. Y’know, if your definition of fun is selling your soul to catch expensive fish and find fossils.
It’s been a long time since I’ve played the first Animal Crossing on the GameCube but already I could tell that New Leaf decided to go for more of a proportional looking human character… relatively speaking, of course. Your character’s head is still about the same size as their torso but your appearance overall is less Strong Bad and more bobble head doll. The 3D is great but, as always, I never have it on because the game looks fine as is. As per usual for such cheerful looking games, it’s bright and vivid. Even at 3:00 AM, the overworld is still bright enough to see as everything is, presumably, illuminated by the moon. In my defense, I wanted to hear the music for each hour, but I got tired and had to sleep.
“And for that, he missed the reggae-
The music hasn’t changed too dramatically since the first game, which is fine, but shows that there hasn’t been a great deal of improvement either. As with the first game, and presumably every other one since then, each hour has its own unique overworld theme. One noticeable difference I could discern was that when it was raining in my town the music had a subtle change to it to make it sound lighter and with a heavier emphasis on the metallophone, or some similar instrument. Whether this is the case when winter comes and I see snow, I can’t say because I bought time sensitive turnips that would rot in the event of me changing my 3DS clock, and I refuse to lose that sort of investment.
The controls are pretty standard, and feel natural when you play for a bit. The control stick functions as your means of moving around while the left and right buttons of the control pad can be used to cycle through your equipment, a skill I didn’t know about until a talking horse who calls me “bro” told me so.
Did we mention that said horse is also a wellspring of awesome,
accidental insults? Because he totally is.
The B button is your “speed up” button: not only do you run while holding it, you can make text speed up as well. The A button is for using equipment while X and Y are used for accessing items and picking up items respectively. When used in conjunction, the L and R buttons allow you to take pictures and save them to your SD card. I haven’t used this function much but the pictures are of decent enough quality.
The game is as addicting as it is calming. There’s nothing quite like selling random items to pay off your debt, but in New Leaf you have other goals, such as seeing your town grow. New to the series as a whole, you now take the position of mayor now that Tortimer, the old mayor from the previous games, has finally retired.
And by “retired,” we mean “escaped.” Tell me that duck isn’t giving
you some serious hostage eyes.
As mayor, it’s you job to make the town grow and keep your citizens happy, from simple things like talking and befriending them to more lofty goals like enacting ordinances or public works projects. Ordinances allow you to customize a town to your own specifications, such as making shops open earlier or close later, which can help you if you have a busy schedule. Public works, on the other hand, are to enhance your town’s appearance and functionality with things like bridges, lights, or even a police station. There is a sense of accomplishment when you pay off your home loan or finish funding a new project that you can see for yourself rather than as an achievement or a trophy, though this game does have its own similar thing in the form of badges. However, the interactive aspects of the game are severely lacking. For starters, your basic message system when chatting with friends who visit your town is so character limited that Twitter laughs at it, and then flaunts how you can see previous Tweets while you have no message log. Another failing is that if you or your friend has an iffy Internet connection, then you could possibly lose everything that you did in that town. This is a game that is a fun social experience, but unless you are in the same room, it’s left in the hands of the fates.
In spite of this, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is beyond a doubt a great game to purchase. If you’re like me and haven’t played an iteration of the series since the first one then you’re in for one hell of a time sink that has its simple, catchy music and pleasing aesthetics draw you in like a mythical siren. If you’ve played the previous game, Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii, then I imagine you’ll be pleased with what you get. If you’ve never touched the series but considering it, be warned that this is a game where you are expected to interact with the NPCs to not only progress but also learn how to play the game so if you the sort of person who finds this unappealing then maybe stay away. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must catch a coelacanth while it’s still raining.
Controls & Mechanics: 7
Atmosphere & Experience: 8
Entertainment Value: 9
Consoles: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Nintendo EAD No. 2
Release Date (U.S.): Jun 9, 2013
Release Date (U.K.): Jun 14, 2013
Release Date (JP): Nov 8, 2012
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