Game Name: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Developer(s): Nintendo EAD
Release Date(s): November 8, 2012 (Japan)/June 9, 2013 (US)
ESRB Rating: E
You are headed to your new town, but a case of mistaken identity when you arrive makes you mayor of the small burg. With the town looking at you for leadership, not only must you build and maintain your own home, but you also must provide your fellow villagers with a town that they can be proud of. Spend your days and nights fishing, catching bugs, digging up fossils, and building up your town, but if things get too stressful, you can travel to a nearby tropical island for a siesta or visit other towns and friends…the world is yours!
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (とびだせ どうぶつの森 or Jump Out Animal Forest) is a simulation game released for the handheld Nintendo 3DS. The game is a follow-up to the Wii game Animal Crossing: City Folk from 2008 and features online play and an updated Amiibo connectivity (in a patch/rerelease called Animal Crossing: New Leaf—Welcome Amiibo).
Animal Crossing is like the light version of games like SimCity and role-playing games. The series is relaxed gaming where you honestly can do what you want. In spite of this, I find myself stressing out in a Pokemon type panic…I got to get everything available to my character which means a lot of time and effort. Unfortunately in Animal Crossing, time and effort can lead to boredom.
Despite loving the concept of Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii, I quickly tired of the game. I didn’t feel that there was enough to do in the town and the whole “city” was a waste of space. Animal Crossing: New Leaf has a little of this but does improve on the format. As mayor, you get to actually tweak your town a bit and in the process, you gain more goals which changes up the gameplay a little. In addition to this, the island which opens up relatively quickly also gives you something else to do…but the whole game boils down to fishing, collecting bugs, digging up fossils, and buying paintings to fill the museum. People who like creating and customizing rooms and such like with Minecraft probably won’t find the freedom that they find in Minecraft, but still might enjoy that aspect of the game.
The game also revolves around your “people”. I find myself ignoring the mundane conversation with the characters, but I do enjoy joining in on seasonal festivities. I wish that the AI for the game were a bit tighter and that you could befriend/anger people a little more than the game currently allows…at least R-Rated talk is permitted even if the characters don’t really react much to it.
The 3D nature of the 3DS does also help the style and design of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The rounded world in the game does get some nice depth of field and really does give the world a rounded approach. The character designs are rather bland, but I do like all the different creatures you can catch (though many duplicate previous Animal Crossing critters).
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a worthwhile time-killer game. It is a game that takes up more time than it should and doesn’t provide the payout you might wish for the commitment but there is something exciting about reeling in a new fish or stalking a new bug. I would like to see more from Animal Crossing, but I also wish that Animal Crossing would give back more to its players with more interaction, more variety, and more adaptability for the world…if I want to terraform the whole city and rebuild, I wish I could have that option…unfortunately, it is limited. Animal Crossing: New Leaf was followed by a spin-off game Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer in 2015 for the 3DS.