Animal Crossing: New Leaf

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 95/100

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS
Reviewed by: Wencke Schuncken

Welcome to your new virtual life. Welcome to Animal Crossing: New Leaf. If you ever wondered how to become the most famous and influence character ever in Animal Crossing, this is your chance. In this wonderful new edition of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you are the mayor in your own little town!

Animal Crossing is about creating a new life for your character in a new town. In short it’s about getting a roof over your head, get acquainted with other residents, collect fossils, catch fish and bugs, donate items to the museum, decorate your house and make designs as prints for shirts for example, and have a happy life. This sounds too good to be true as this games can turn a player into an obsessive, collective slave, trying to expand its house, make collections complete in the museum and at home and earning as much as possible Bells (currency in Animal Crossing). Besides the addictive, obsessive activities there are so many other things to do, which are fulfilling, especially when residents respond to your actions such as writing letters, bringing little presents to fellow buddies and respond to all kinds of requests (I want fruit, I want to compare a character with a certain fish, I want to replace a furniture, I want to visit your home, etc.)

In Animal Crossing: New Leaf you’re not “just” a resident, you’re the mayor. And that comes with responsibilities! You want to make a huge success of this town, a blast being a citizen in it! Isabelle, your wonderful personal assistant, gives advice and organizes projects. She truly is a big help, especially for gamers who never had the chance yet to play any previous Animal Crossing games. Besides checking the citizens’ satisfaction, changing the town’s tune and flag design, Isabelle takes care of more important projects and decisions to be made by the mayor. For example what kind of public works project should be created? What does the mayor prefer, but also what do the residents prefer? Is it an extra bridge? A bench to sit on? A water well, varied signs, a fountain or maybe the bigger projects such as building a second floor in the museum or even a special new feature called the dream suite to exchange dreams of other online Animal Crossing: New Leaf players. There are cheap projects but also ridiculous pricy ones. It’s up to you, mayor, to decide what project should be created, and talk to the residents what they prefer.

The other important decision to be made by the mayor is what about ordinances should be applied to the town. Do you, as a mayor, want a beautiful town with less weeds and dried out flowers? Or is the economy important and getting more money from your residents. No matter what you decide, think about the impact it has on your town and residents, before making a decision!

A new mayor in town, but no mayor’s home? That’s impossible! Nook’s Homes (the local broker and home “decorator” helps you out with a small tent (what a nice gesture) to live in, but eventually he will take hold of your Bells big time! Nook will give you the opportunity to expand your home over and over again in exchange of a lot of Bells, A LOT! But any gamer needs the space to place the lovely collected furniture (either bought in the local shops run by Nooks nephews, or given by residents or online friends, or perhaps even found hidden in a tree!). And perhaps you cannot make up your mind which kind of collection you want to display, so you can do this in several rooms … when you have the space. In New Leaf, the furniture collections as well as the wallpaper and flooring collections are expanded. Also the external decorations are expanded and not only the roof color can be changed but also the type of door, mailbox, type of bricks and roof. Multiple options for gamers with a creative heart!

Speaking of creativity, it’s still possible to make your own designs to put on signs, the town’s flag or on cloths. If you want to restyle furniture you can consult the Re-Tail (recycling shop) run by Reese where her brother refurnishes all kinds of furniture. This is also to place to display items and set the price as you wish. When a resident visits the store when you’re in, it seems as if you are the sales person and quick deals are made. A wonderful place compared to the Nook’s commercial imperium. Re-tail even buys items at twenty percent higher! But at Nook’s shopping store, you can always order items and the shop has new products on a daily basis.

Nook’s home store and his nephews shopping store is located in Main Street, the shopping district in town. Some stores are already open for business from the start of the game, some will be built later on in the game (depending on how much you play and perhaps even spend in the stores). It’s fun to see how the Main Street becomes more popular with new stores and places to hang out. Also the museum is located here. All in all the Main Street is a place for amusement and to go on a shopping spree.

Social interaction with the citizens is an important daily activity. You can talk to them, make plans to visit each other homes to check out their interior and have a chat, write letters (with or without enclosing presents), fulfill their wishes (bring fruit, fish or a bug), be a delivery girl which brings packages from one resident to another, and of course have a celebration when a public works project is finished (made possible by your donations as well by residents). They even can become strong competitors when special competitions take place such as the monthly bug catching event. I personally love receiving letters, and it seems that the responses are improved and actually refer to your sent letter and present. They even show some letters which you wrote in the past, so be careful what you write as they probably also show it to gamers which are visiting your town, or when they move to another town. You’ve been warned!

If you want to travel, go to another town of a friend which is online or take the boat with a singing captain to a Hawaiian look-a-like island. I’m not the type of person to travel a lot, but the island has some cool features such as playing games to win medals which again can be exchanged against special items (and high on that special items wish list is the wet suit to be able to swim in the sea!) While traveling to the island, it’s a like going on a little fun vacation! Souvenirs such as caught fish, bugs, fruit and even rare items from the “souvenir” shop. But the most fun and challenging activity is participating in mini-games to earn medals such as in a hide-and-seek and fishing game.

Want to explore more features with other gamers? Why not visit a friend’s town? Share Friend Codes, activate them on the 3DSand pay a visit via the train station. Explore foreign lands, exchange items, play games, and much more. Unfortunately there is no voice chat functionality, you still need to type messages. Also a StreetPass feature makes it possible to visit players’ houses with the Happy Home Showcase (also a location in your town).

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the best animal crossing game so far. It contains all the best features from previous editions and even tops them. There are more (new) shops, new characters, new fruit, more collectibles, more character emotions, the possibility to change socks and shoes, gemstones, fortune cookies and so much more to discover! It’s more rewarding, and the urge to keep on playing is intense as your city grows. And you want to keep it growing, expanding the possibilities to the limit although that’s impossible as your own creativity and phantasy are part of the gameplay and that is endless!

Ps. If someone sees Rosi, please tell her to visit my town, pronto! I’ve missed her since Wild World!