Animal Crossing has returned, finding a home on the popular Nintendo 3DS system in an updated New Leaf edition, where gamers are offered the task of living and governing rural life in a small town, designing a home, furnishing the interior, and making ends meet through a variety of commercial (yet always cute) tasks. Does Animal Crossing: New Leaf keep the virtual life fresh, or is it all starting to feel like a chore?
You start off living in a tent...
At its core, Animal Crossing is what I like to call a 'watercooler game'. Everyone takes away a different experience upon playing, which makes it an extremely fun title to talk about with other players during and after entering the New Leaf world. Players spend their "lives" earning virtual currency called Bells to pay off their mortgage or furnish their in-game home. This is accomplished via a myriad of engaging discovery and collection tasks: catching bugs, digging up fossils, or fishing seafood to sell at the local convenience store. My personal favorite income source: farming a high-profit exotic fruit orchard.
Catch bugs and sell them for rent / furniture money or donate them to the local museum.
Gameplay: The game begins with a randomly generated town to name and maintain. There are animal residents in the shape of sheep, wolves, goats, and other normally quadrupedal types as neighbors, each possessing a different and unique personality which keeps life in town entertaining. Oh, and didn't you know...you've been given the important job of being their Mayor too! Keeping your fellow Animal Crossing citizens happy is a player's biggest priority. As Mayor, players are required to address township concerns such as planting more flowers, making social rounds, and handling waste disposal. All these leadership tasks add up and are rewarded with landmarks to erect or new stores to shop in.
Your town lives and breaths in real time, with certain bugs and fish only appearing to collect at night, while stores open and close their doors at appropriate hours, and town events following the schedule of a real-life community. And if a player walks away from playing and attending to the world of New Leaf for too long, weeds begin to take over the town, flowers wither, and villagers will move away as the town falls into disrepair.
Create clothing designs that can be sold to your fellow residents or even other players who visit your town
Patience and attention to details is the name of the game. You'll find yourself checking in daily to check new furniture options on display at the town furniture shop, Nook's. Plants will need watering, fruit orchards require harvesting, and in your spare moments, you'll have time to check on the latest auction house items.
The best part is designing a virtual house, complete with furniture, wallpaper, and flooring. I suspect for an Apartment Therapy reader, this option to design and decorate your own own unique and creative looking abode would be amongst the most loved features offered in New Leaf. I found as I collected more furniture, I really took the time and consideration to see how everything worked together, just like I would while decorating a real space. New Leaf also adds the option to decorate with an array of wall items, expanding the decorative possibilities even further beyond floor space furnishings and decor.
Animal Crossing isn't really a game, but a therapeutic free-form experience to get lost in by doing incredibly simple tasks. Essentially the game is endless, without "levels" or "bosses" to defeat.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is an excellent game and addition to the beloved franchise: updated graphics are cuter and engaging more than ever, the endearing soundtrack pleasantly catchy, and like previous Animal Crossing titles, the game offers highly addictive gameplay tapping into the compulsive desires to keep things operating smoothly. However, those who prefer their games to offer definitive end-game reward play or non-stop action are likely to miss the appeal of Animal Crossing. This isn't a game to sit down and play all the way through in one, two, or even a week, as New Leaf's appeal is the free-form, ongoing narrative which unfolds in real time according to a player's decisions during his or her life as a citizen and Mayor of their very own town.
Nintendo's family branding means Animal Crossing: New Leaf is appropriate for all ages, and is a game which encourages creativity, problem solving, and organization skills within an interactive and colorful world for kids and adults alike. Animal Crossing veterans will find not much has drastically changed, but perhaps this isn't unwelcome, with the few new additions of mayoral duties and design options worth the price of admission again.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was purchased by the reviewer for game review purposes.