Review: Animal Crossing New Leaf

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the fourth instalment in the Animal Crossing franchise, a series that has been running for nearly 10 years, innovating and upgrading the genre of life simulation along the way.

Being the latest in the series, New Leaf is the most advanced and packed game yet. Which may go without saying for most games, however some releases in the Animal Crossing series were a step back from the previous, such as Wild World, which was a more condensed version of the original GameCube debut.

As with other Animal Crossing games, the objective is simple: Live your life. You may want to go fishing, catch some bugs, sell some fruit, purchase some furniture or pay off your home loan. But the end result is always the same, addiction, Nintendo have mastered the skill of keeping players hooked to their games by creating fun and enjoyable gameplay styles which can’t be found anywhere else, even more so with Animal Crossing.

Although the premise is so basic and petty, your surroundings and environment are a constantly changing variant, as the game takes key use of your 3DS’ clock. Meaning there is a high chance of something different happening the more time you spend in the game, or the different days you visit.

The best way to describe Animal Crossing is a game about nothing, unless you’re playing it, then it’ll be your main focus for hours of your day. As what other games have you played that gives you the task of talking to the members of the town, or paying off your mortgage? And, the longer you spend in your town, the more obliged you will be to keeping it finely pruned, giving it the best of resources and making sure the townsfolk are happy.

Animal Crossing has followed a good formula with New Leaf; not only does it bring back important and memorable features of the past three games; such as the tropical island, loved characters and a variation of “The City”. But it also gives the player new features to play around with, the most important of which being, running their own town, with full mayoral benefits.

Which is more than just carrying the title of king, instead you are able to put in place certain ordinances, some of which might be making the shops stay open later, or another being that you can sell items for more bells, a great asset for anyone planning on paying off their loan quickly. On top of that, you can also add certain additions to the town, such as bridges or benches. Although the more interesting ones come later, specifically once a resident of the town has suggested something they feel would go well in the town, like a police station for finding out if anyone has visited, or a lighthouse which attracts more fish.

These are just a small handful of things you can do in New Leaf, anything which isn’t already there in your town at the start, which you might remember seeing in previous games, could have a chance of popping up in the market north of your town, or available to build via the public works feature. It all depends on a few things: How long you’ve played for, which is no issue as you’ll be spending hours in the world of Animal Crossing. What activities you partake in most, for example if you fish a lot, you may have a lighthouse suggested to you. And talking to the residents of your town, as they can’t suggest nifty additions to the town without the communication of the mayor, can they?

The reason Animal Crossing has such a long-lasting life span is because of the point shown above, everything takes time, and your curiosity will get the better of you, particularly when you think about what might be happening tomorrow. “Did those 500,000 Bells I just deposited into the bank impress them? Maybe they’ll send me some post tomorrow” “I was told about a boat that can take me to a tropical island which will be departing tomorrow, I wonder what that’ll be like”.

However, that could also be perceived as the gripe of the game. Time, as Animal Crossing is synchronized to your 3DS’ clock, it becomes a pain when you’re forced wait until 6am tomorrow for most things to come into play. All those things you’ve waited for: Your house upgrades, the new club in the market, that tree you just planted, will all come into play, tomorrow. So no matter how long you spend today, no matter how much money you earn today, the game won’t progress until 6am tomorrow. Although, the game does give you plenty of stuff to do until that time comes. Like deep-sea diving for different crustaceans or designing a new pattern to go on your shirt.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is probably one of the biggest titles on the 3DS at the moment, and it’s no surprise. With all the new features added to it, as well as polished old ones and an ever-changing world which corresponds to real-time, there’s enough gameplay to last you months of animal accompanied fun.

The game was published and created by Nintendo and is exclusive to both the 2DS and 3Ds. Hopefully the Animal Crossing franchise will carry on for at least another few games, possibly even on the WiiU. But whether it’s on the 3DS, WiiU or even the 4DS, I can’t wait to see what’s added to the game’s next release.

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