A raccoon realtor, an owl museum curator, and a turtle ship’s captain - we must be in the world of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. So how does the latest in the Animal Crossing series compare to the rest? Grab your shovel, we’re digging in.
The story starts out the same as any other Animal Crossing game; you’ve left home to make your way in the world on your own. The story takes a new twist when your train pulls into the new town. Instead of becoming a villager, you are mistaken for the new mayor. There is no getting out of it either, your new assistant is very insistent that you are the new mayor.
After settling in, the story follows your cues as the game moves into its life simulation mode. That means that no two players will have the same game. It becomes what you make of it with no ending in sight.
Controls and Gameplay
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a life simulation game. In-game time flows by in real time, so there is no rush to do things and there is never a lack of things to do. Fishing, catching bugs, gardening, and chatting with fellow villagers are just a few of your options. There are some goals for you to achieve as well; improving your home, filling the museum with exhibits and improving the village.
The last part takes shape in a few ways. As in the rest of the series you can pull weeds, plant flowers, and chop down or plant tress. Since you are mayor you also have the ability to enact Public Works Projects. These projects allow you to gather donations from villagers to build objects ranging from street lamps to fountains, to bridges, and even new shops in the main street area. Another mayoral perk are Ordinances. These allow you to tailor the way the town functions. If you are a night owl you can enact an ordinance that keeps shops open late. If you’re a early bird you can do the opposite.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf takes advantage of the 3DS’ various features. With the Street Pass it will download copies of other people’s homes that you can then visit and buy furniture items out of. At the Able Sisters store you eventually get a sewing machine that lets you import and export clothing designs via QR codes. Lastly, you can visit other players towns (or they can visit yours) via local connection or the internet.
Graphics and Sound
One thing that has been consistent about the Animal Crossing series is its graphics and sound. Animal Crossing: New Leaf continues that legacy. Graphically it is a simple cartoony world dipped in a touch of anime with all the characters having small bodies and big heads.
All the villagers speak in a fast talking gibberish and if you listen hard it vaguely resembles words. As always their conversations are revealed via word balloons. The music is light and fun with familiar themes from the past woven in. K.K. Slider the singing dog returns to give a special performance every Saturday, but as a bonus he now also works as a DJ in Club LOL on Main Street giving, nightly performances.
The Animal Crossing series has been one of the few games I have played every version of. It’s a great game to relax with when you just want to do nothing for a few hours. Animal Crossing: New Leaf on one hand keeps the low demanding life sim gameplay, but breathes new life into the game with your new role as mayor. I still lose hours catching fish, bugs or just making designs for clothing to earn Bells, which allow me to pay for new items and expansions to my home. But with Public Works Projects, I can now also put those Bells towards improving the village. It is a game that you get out of it what you put into it.
It’s still fun to find fossils, chat up the kooky villagers, and sit in a boat listening to Kapp’n singing his odd sea shanties. Animal Crossing: New Leaf hits a nice balance between the classic gameplay we all know and love with new elements to keep things interesting. I give Animal Crossing: New Leaf a 4.5 out of 5.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is rated E for Everyone for Comic Mischief by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).
For more information see the Animal Crossing: New Leaf web site.