By: Lara Murray
Release Date: June 9, 2013
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is out for the Nintendo 3DS and is the newest addition to the Animal Crossing series. Like its predecessors, it’s not necessary to have played any of the other games in the series so a new player with just basic reading, math, and comprehension skills can jump right in and enjoy the game. Up to four people can create a villager to live in town, but only one person can play at a time. Additionally, only the first villager to arrive in town can become mayor after a misunderstanding from the animal villagers, which takes away one of the neatest aspects from other players on the same game.
As mayor of the town, a player has the ability to enact ordinances and start public work projects that add decorations to the town. As a resident, a player controls their villager and interacts with other residences and the environment. Every imposition has a consequence, however subtle it may be: befriended residents will stay in town, while neglected or annoyed one will take off for greener pastures; shake a tree in hopes that “bells” (the in-game currency) or an item will fall out, at the risk that a bee’s nest will drop and you’ll be stung instead; run over the same area of grass long enough and it will wear away into a dirt path; plant a red rose and a white rose together, and find a pink rose growing one day from their cross-pollination.
Being a mayor is fun, but a mayor needs a home to retire to after a long day of work At the beginning of the game, your villager starts off with a humble tent while your house is built. It’s a small home at first, but over time the outside of the house can be remodeled and the inside can be expanded into multiple stories and floors. Remodeling cost bells, but by reselling old clothes and furniture and selling fruit, fish, insects, and fossils gathered in town, earning bells to repay your debt is easy. If money isn’t an issue, then fruit can be planted to grow more fruit trees and fossils, insects, and fish can be donated to the town’s museum for exhibition.
Seasons and time pass by in the game much the same as in real life. There’s snow on the ground in the winter and an abundant amount of mosquitoes in the summer, just to name a few of seasonal quirks. Many insects and fish only come out during certain months of the year, so there’s always something to catch. Holidays and villager’s birthdays are celebrated, often with a commemorative item available only during that time. When you want to remember a moment, pressing the L- and R-shoulder buttons will snap a photo that’s stored on the 3DS and can be uploaded online.
When you feel like your villager needs a change of scenery, chart a boat to a local tropical island for some exploration, visit the Dream House in town, or visit a friends town and see what they’re up to. You can also open the gate to your town and invite friends in. Visiting friends’ towns provides the advantage to gather fruit and buy items not available in the stores in your town, and finding travelers who only crop up in towns weekly on a random basis more often. Unless you’re in range of another player with a 3DS and a copy of the game, it’s necessary to have already swapped friend codes prior to visiting a friend’s town, preventing unwanted strangers from entering your town or you from entering theirs.
The multiplayer aspect of the island is a new feature that wasn’t featured in the past Animal Crossing games, but is one of best new features of New Leaf. Once in the same town, friends can travel to the tropical island and participate in one of the many “tours” available. The tours are mini games where participants work together to complete tasks, such as catching a certain amount of bugs within a time limit or completing a scavenger hunt, to win medals. Medals may then be cashed in to buy exclusive items available only on the island. You can also visit and play any of the tours by yourself by visiting the island when there are no friends visiting your town, but without the hectic fun of working together with friends.
The Dream House is another fun new feature in New Leaf. It allows you to visit the dream world of another town—either randomly selected from towns uploaded online, or by specifically entering a code that represents an exact town—where you can do anything you want but changes aren’t permanent. Parental controls must permit Internet access to visit any dream town, as well as unlock the Child Online Privacy Protection option in order to upload your town to the database where dream towns are pulled from.
Very few games can actually offer limitless entertainment, but Animal Crossing: New Leaf does it without missing a step. New Leaf proves that you don’t need violence or adult situations to produce a good game. Sometimes all it takes is a little misunderstanding when you move into something new to have fun.