The Animal Crossing series is a brilliant life simulator series created by Nintendo. Originally released on Nintendo GameCube, Animal Crossing has seen its way across the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii. With the recent release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf the Animal Crossing series has finally made its way to the Nintendo 3DS with a bundle of new improvements and additions to welcome you into its brilliant world once again.
For those who have never played an Animal Crossing game before (which if you haven’t you have been missing out my friend) it is a life simulator game where your character moves into a new town which is populated by… you guessed it – animals. After you move in you are able to pay off your mortgage to improve the size of your house, or you can collect clothing items or even housing items – it is completely up to the player how they play and experience Animal Crossing. Whilst the new Animal Crossing: New Leaf sticks to the formula the old games did it definitely sticks out now with some brilliant new features and the new plot Nintendo have introduced.
An Introduction to Animal Crossing: New Leaf
There isn’t a story as such to Animal Crossing: New Leaf but there is a loose one wrapped around it all. New Leaf starts with the player sitting on a train when you are asked for the time (if you’ve played the previous games, yes the old black cat is here to introduce you to the world) then asks where you’re heading. The cat first asks for your name, up pops a window for the player to type their characters nickname or real name, and then the cat asks where you are heading, again up pops the window for you to type in the name of the town you are heading towards. ‘All names are final so choose wisely here, as you will have to live with your choices for the rest of the game. When it comes to choosing your gender and visual style this is done in a Nifty way, Throughout your train journey the cat constantly asks you questions depending on how you answer these questions ultimately determines your characters gender and style.
Now this is where the big new addition to New Leaf appears! After the player gets off the train they are mistaken by Isabelle and town members as the new mayor, obviously this is some sort of mix up. Though as you deny that you are the mayor it is thought that you are joking – who knew it’d be so easy to become a mayor of a town? Isabelle, the mayor’s assistant, takes you to the town hall to register up but realises you don’t have a house… uh-oh.
You are asked to go to Nook’s Homes to get a house from here. Players of the previous game you will be surprised, Nook has moved up in the world! Yes that lovable (I use lovable loosely here, I mean all he really wants is your money after all…) racoon now runs an estate agents in town. Here players will see a brilliant new feature – you do not have to choose a custom built house position to live in. In New Leaf players get to choose the exact spot they wish their house to be in, if Nook thinks it is acceptable (if there is enough land/not too close to another house) Nook will prepare the land for you and get ready to build your house. Though it isn’t quite exactly a house you live in at first. Oh no, Nook has become even more of a cheapskate this time and given you a tent. To get your house Nook tells you that 10,000 bells are needed, alas you will not have the money to pay for your house.
So there we have it, a cosy little tent exactly what we wanted! Isabelle will give you a little house warming present to brighten up your tent (it’s a lamp… suppose it’s better than the tent so far) and then takes you to a ceremony of your mayor-hood. The planting of the tree represents your first day as mayor in the town.
From this point on Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the players choice of what to do, and I’ll cover some of the options you have in New Leaf in just a minute. Players of the previous entries to the series will notice already how vastly different New Leaf is and may have also noticed that I missed out about Nook’s chores. That is right guys, you no longer have to carry out shop work for Tom Nook at the beginning of the game. Within New Leaf you are left to your own devices which is probably why you are given a tent instead of a brand spanking new house this time.
New Features and Changes
New Leaf contains tons of new features and changes on top of its predecessors and I will mention about the ones I’ve noticed so far. It must be said that there are probably far more as you venture through the game (and a lot of your time) but these are the ones noticed as of present.
You’re the mayor! The biggest addition is that you are the mayor. This leads to some brilliant village customisation known as ‘village projects’ where you are able to say you want a new fountain and then the village donates to the creation of the said project. The player and friends from online are able to donate towards this as well as the villagers. The village projects make every village have their own true unique taste this time round.
A shopping district This time shopping isn’t in your village, other than Re-Tail. All your old favourites are there such as Able Sisters and Nooks Cranny (now run by the lovable Nook children) and of course the museum. Though housed upon the shopping district is a bundle of new shops such as a Club where K.K. Slider plays and Nook’s Homes. This new shopping district is a short walk from your village so don’t worry about having to get on the bus to venture out to the shops!
K.K. Slider has moved up in the world Fan favourite K.K. Slider now plays at the club every day of the week apart from Saturdays. On Saturdays K.K. Slider will play the traditional acoustic tunes we are used to hearing from the series. As with previous games you are able to take a copy of his songs home for your listening pleasure on a CD player in your pad.
I think I’m a little taller… Players are now a tad taller than in previous entries to the series which allows you to customise trousers and the likes to have even further customer characterisation. This feature is brilliant for those who wanted to further customise themselves and also because it makes the humans look more realistic now in game.
Choo-Choo! Travelling between towns now takes place on a train, sadly removing the beloved Town Gate we have grown accustomed to from Animal Crossing: Wild World and Animal Crossing: Let’s Go to the City (or City Folk in America).
A variety of new shops New stores include a Gardening Store, Nook’s Homes, Club LOL, Re-Tail and a Cafe. The Gardening Store sells your every day outdoor needs such as saplings, Nook’s Homes sells you house customisation and allows you to upgrade your pad, Club LOL is the home of the legendary K.K. Slider where you can dance to his tunes or listen to acoustic versions on Saturdays, Re-Tail is a shop which recycles your old items and buys them from you at a higher price than Nook does – here you are also able to change the design of your furniture. Finally the Cafe replaces the old museum ‘Roost’ cafe from the previous games, though still has Roost working behind the counter.
Fruity! Several new fruits have been introduced to New Leaf from the usual Oranges, Peaches, Pears, Apples, Cherries and Coconuts. Within the new game you are able to obtain Lemons, Bananas and Mangos. Another new feature is that fruit can turn into ‘Perfect’ fruit which sells for higher than normal fruit.
Let’s go to another Island Another Island is able to be ventured which Kapp’n will take you to. The old boat Kapp’n used to have has been upgraded and this allows all your mates to come to the island with you over online! The Island contains Tropical Fruits and is home to rare bugs, fruit, flowers and fish. All year round the island will have summer weather which is a fantastic feature allowing players to pick up those summer-exclusive insects and fish no matter if it is winter in their town. Oh and if you were wondering where Tortimer (the mayor from previous games) was, he is on holiday at the island.
I fancy a splash… That water sure looks appealing in New Leaf. When you’re on the Island you are able to go for a swim and even dive (if you have a diving suit) to collect fish and bells from under the sea. This is a brilliant addition to the series finally allowing the player to go for a swim instead of being stuck on land.
Sweet Dreams The Dream Suite (a new shop which is a village project which needs to be built) is a feature which allows you to venture around villages you have seen on street pass. This feature, when in village, doesn’t allow you to ruin the other persons village due to it being a dream but is a great way of getting a feel of how you can decorate your own village.
Happy House Showcase Using Streetpass and Spotpass (only in versions outside of Japan) allows you to see houses Nintendo have sent or houses of people you have walked past in the upper part of your village. This is a fantastic feature which allows you to see these players houses and get a feel for how you could customise your house.
Furniture and House Customisation Your house is now YOUR house. The exterior can be fully customised from within Nook’s Home which allows players to make their house different to those of their mates. Couches and Tables etc can also be decorated in Re-Tail with your own designs to give your own feel to the furniture you purchase.
Development Permit As Mayor your are in full control of your village however there is an obstacle in your way in a form of a Development Permit. To obtain this you will need to complete a bunch of tasks and make the towns folk 100% happy with you.
Spot Pass Periodically, Nintendo will send gifts and letters through Spot Pass.
The control scheme for Animal Crossing: New Leaf plays out similar to previous games and with the addition of the analog stick on the Nintendo 3DS feels a lot more comfortable to control than Wild World did on the Nintendo DS. Controls work out as follows;
Analog Stick – Movement through the world
D-Pad – Pressing Up allows the camera to see the sky, pressing down returns to normal view. Left and Right quickly give you access to your tools (shovel/axe/fishing rod etc.)
A – Performs actions (such as shaking a tree)
B – When walking and held the player runs
X – Brings up inventory
Y – Picks up items (such as apples off of the floor)
The touch screen is also used and features several tabs which allow players to perform actions, they are explained below;
Suitcase – This is the players inventory. Here you can see what items you have, place said items on the floor or even onto your player. You can also view letters which you have stored on your person and even write letters.
Pencil – This is your designs tab. Here all of your designs created at the Able Sisters shop are stored for your use around town. You can use designs as wallpaper/flooring or as clothing and umbrellas. The choice is completely up to you!
Book – This is your stats tab. Here information on all of the bugs and fish you have caught appears, allowing you to read up on them.
Map – You guessed it, here you can view your town map. When you click on one of the houses/places on the map with your stylus it will tell you what the place is or who the house belongs to for your reference.
The controls are very simple to learn for Animal Crossing and will become second nature after a few times on the game. All of the touch screen menus are operated with the touch screen functionality.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf‘s visual style is gorgeous and vibrant and appeals to both a younger audience and an older audience. The cartoony and bright colours make the game feel safe and relaxing and allow you to truly relax whilst living your day to day life within the game. The 3D feature looks fantastic and makes everything come to life in game, whilst it can be enjoyed with the 3D feature off, this is one game you will want to play with the 3D feature on to enjoy the beauty the game has to offer.
Music in the Animal Crossing series has always been relaxing and fun to listen to. Ranging from the town themes to shop themes and then all the way to K.K. Slider there is a vast array of music which you will hear as you live your day to day life. The music as you walk around the town changes depending on when you play it. If you’re playing very early morning the music will be very quiet whereas in the middle of the day the music will be more upbeat and louder as if it’s a busy bustling day out. New Leaf‘s music helps you to truly feel as if you are leaving a great peaceful day in your town.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf improves on the Animal Crossing series more than any other entry has done to date. With simple changes to characters such as Tom Nook now working in Nook’s Homes to big changes such as being the mayor of the town the game offers a variety of excellent features which will hook in old players and be fun for those new to the Animal Crossing world.
The features that the 3DS also allows such as Streetpass, Spotpass and 3D viewing of the game makes the game have a more social side that you would expect from a life simulator. The 3D feature makes the game look stunning and adds a little more than the Wii version bought to the table visually.
Positives and Negatives
+ Relaxing, Peaceful and thoroughly enjoyable for a life simulator
+ Visually appealing to all ages
+ Vast amount of new features which make even veterans to the series have a reason to return
+ Far more customisable than previous games; from village to character customisation there is something for everyone
– You’ll need time and plenty of it to experience to whole of Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a brilliant simulation game and has the Nintendo charm you know and love. Fans new to the series have a whole new place to explore and learn whilst veterans will experience that familiar charm with a bundle of new features to make New Leaf feel like a completely new game. If you haven’t experienced the charm that is Animal Crossing make sure you pick up New Leaf because you will be missing out on a game that is simply perfect.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.