Published on August 13th, 2013 | by Dembonez193
Review: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Systems: 3DS, 3DS eShop
Release Date: June 9, 2013
Unlike Sim City, Animal Crossing: New Leaf forces the role of mayor on whomever arrives at the train station’s exit platform first. This brand new feature gives players so much more reign over what goes on in their town, and it extends far beyond what existed before because you are the one calling all the shots!
First, as you begin the game, you are greeted by an old familiar pal: Rover. The setup has not changed at all since the very beginning. Any fan of Animal Crossing knows that the questions asked by Rover (or Kapp’n in Wild World) determine the type of face you will receive upon arriving at your new town. Among these general questions about why you are moving, you are also asked for your name, your town’s name, and lastly the map of your town! Before New Leaf, the town map was randomly generated, and you were only given one option. Either you stuck with what was given to you originally or you reset to something more suited to your liking. In New Leaf, there are four map options to choose from to reduce the chance of having to reset. Of course, resetting could still happen, but with the idea that you have taken over Tortimer’s mayoral role in mind, selecting a map that you could work with should not take so long.
Upon arrival, the first player to appear will receive one of the cutest greetings in video game history that simply has to be experienced, especially if you are a huge fan of the series and all things adorable. This welcome only happens with the first player because that person is appointed mayor. Up to four players can live in a town at once, but the three stragglers will not have as much control over the town as the mayor.
If you happen to arrive at the party fashionably late, never fear! The mayor may set the town’s gears in motion, but there are plenty of activities to take part in no matter who is playing in spite of losing a couple of new features. Anyone familiar with the Animal Crossing series knows the drill already about finding a house and taking part in a variety of tasks to get acquainted with the game’s mechanics. This time, instead of Tom Nook being in full control of the initial tutorial part of the game, a new face is introduced: Isabelle. She acts as the mayor’s secretary throughout the game, and in the beginning, she provides every single player with a plethora of hints and tools to help you become better at the game right from the beginning!
Don’t think that just because Isabelle is in charge of the tutorial that good ol’ Tom Nook is no longer around. He’s still here, as well as other familiar faces, and Mr. Nook is still in charge of real estate. Players initially start off in a cramped tent and work their way up. There are many more home expansions in this game than there were in City Folk, and exterior customizations go beyond changing the color of the roof as well! Tom Nook runs a brand new store called Nook Homes that lets players customize the facade of their home along with what is on the inside.
Nook Homes, along with many other buildings, is located on Main Street. It looks pretty sparse in the beginning, but as your town grows, so should Main Street! While all of the games in the Animal Crossing series has focused on town growth, Animal Crossing: New Leaf has turned it up to eleven. Main Street, along with other new elements, show the town’s steady growth so much better than it ever has before.
The new faces of Animal Crossing: New Leaf all come with brand new locations as well, with the exception of Isabelle who has replaced Pelly and Phyllis as the mayor’s secretary in town hall. An alpaca named Reese owns the only shop that isn’t on Main Street in the very beginning along with another alpaca named Cyrus who quite enjoys sleeping on the job (and gets away with it). This store is called Re-Tail, and it is a flea market that recycles unwanted items by selling them to others. The owner of the item sets the price, and whenever someone comes along and buys that item, the money is sent directly to the original owner’s bank. Now, don’t start setting prices at 999,999,999 bells for wooden boxes. The villagers won’t go for that, and neither will your friends. You do have to be reasonable, but it is a great way to earn money quickly early in the game, especially if you want to pay off Nook’s loans.
The StreetPass feature is contained within the Happy Home Academy, led by Isabelle’s brother Digby. The more you StreetPass other players, the more homes become available to visit as these homes represent the model homes in the StreetPassed player’s game. Items can be purchased from each home although only five purchases can be made per day total inside the Happy Home Academy gate. Luckily, the homes are viewable until you decide to take them down. Furthermore, SpotPass homes become available too as long as the feature is turned on from the main menu. StreetPassing also affects Re-Tail as it increases the amount of spotlight items that appear on the sign board outside the shop. These spotlight items can be sold for double the profit!
What once was called Animal Island has finally made a return in New Leaf! This feature has not seen Animal Crossing since the very beginning, and Animal Island was only available for people who owned a Game Boy Advance. Now, the island is free for all to explore! One of the main features on the island is the hut that is run by three members of Kapp’n’s family: his wife Leilani, his daughter Leila, and his mother Grams. These three each sport a different role on the main island. Grams runs the shop that sells exclusive island goodies, Leila offers to (poorly) purchase anything collected on the island, and Leilani is in charge of traveling home or on tours!
Tours are among the biggest features the game has to offer. Because so many players thought up their own games to play in previous versions of the game, the island in New Leaf takes the setup out of mini-games and simply lets players have fun. These tours are hosted by Tortimer, a very relaxed tortoise now that he has been relieved of his job as mayor. He gives the players medals depending on how well they do during the tours, and those medals can be spent only inside the island shop! One final bit about the island is that because it is summer all year round, it is a great place for players to get a tan and catch bugs and fish that may not be in-season in their own towns.
There are plenty of other new faces and new places in New Leaf, but those will be left for you to discover on your own. There are so much to mention about this game that this review would go on forever if they were all listed here!
While visiting the island, make sure to be on the lookout for an important item and yet another new feature of Animal Crossing: New Leaf: the wetsuit. This little suit will provide you with the opportunity to catch sea creatures that are unable to bite the rod. The diving element adds a brand new section of the old encyclopedia that was once much smaller and only contained insects and biting fish. Blathers has his hands extra full now that so many more creatures are available to be caught!
As mentioned before, the mayor does have a few extra perks that other players will not have. For one, the mayor will be able to enact ordinances in the town. These ordinances control how the town is run, and Isabelle is in charge of explaining them to the mayor. For example, if you enjoy waking up early and playing the game before work or school, you may want your villagers to wake up early with you. Therefore, you would make the Early Bird ordinance a law so that you could not only speak to your animal buddies before heading off for the day, but you could also do a little shopping on Main Street to get it out of the way!
Now, onto public works projects. These projects vary from anywhere between custom pattern signs to wonders of the world. As mayor, YOU will choose where the projects go…as long as Isabelle approves. Most of what you can build has to be requested first either by villagers or specific NPCs, but there are still a lot to choose from in the beginning to begin building a solid foundation for the future of your town and its appearance. Once again, these public works projects emphasize the growth aspect of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Not only that, but they help define your town and set it apart from everyone else.
This game is not without its faults, including grass wear still being a problem, but Animal Crossing: New Leaf is such a huge step in the right direction from its Wii predecessor. The new features are welcome to the series, and old favorites have come back in a huge way as well! This game is guaranteed fun for hours, and you will not know where the time has gone as your town grows and flourishes from all the work you have put into it.
+ Fresh, updated feel
+ Mayor has a lot of creative freedom
+ Many new features mixed with old returning favorites
– Grass wear
– Players who join the game after the mayor can’t take advantage of some new features
Final score: 4.75 out of 5