This archived article was written by: Katrina Wood
Sometimes there’s nothing like going fishing, catching bugs, making money and talking to your best friend, “Punchy” the cat.
I love the “Animal Crossing” games. Though they’re simple and feature no overall goal, they provide a fun, comical environment full of furniture to collect, clothes to buy, friends to make and a mortgage to pay—which is a lot less scary than it sounds. A humble life-simulator, “Animal Crossing” is a nice escape that doesn’t resort to over-the-top violence or crude humor.
As a player since the first game, I’m always thrilled for new additions to the series, and “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” for the 3DS is no exception. While following the formula that makes its predecessors hits, “New Leaf” adds a surplus of additions that keeps the game fun, fresh and addicting.
You begin your tale on a train ride to your new home, where, as in every other instalment, you are asked a series of questions by Rover the cat that determines your character’s facial features, your town’s name and what you’d like your town to look like. Once Rover finishes, you’re off to start your new life.
Upon leaving the train station, you’re greeted by the villagers and mistaken for the new mayor. Before you know it, you’re hurled into a position of power that gives the game a lot of freedom and life.
As all “Animal Crossing” games do, your town is impressively empty when you first arrive. With a few neighbors, a handful of trees and a couple of stores to visit, there isn’t much to do at first. Yet as mayor, you have the ability to make your town boom.
One of the simplest, but most effective ways to do this is through town projects and ordinances. Ranging from huge and costly projects that will open new stores, to smaller humble projects that will put a bench in your town, town projects decorate your town with features that make the environment feel fuller and more alive.
Ordinances establish rules that benefit players’ different playstyles. Players who only play late, for example, can launch the late bird ordinance so shops open later and close later.
And speaking of which, “New Leaf” is no slacker when it comes to shops and activities. There’s an abundance of new shops in “New Leaf”: the Re-tail, Kick’s, Leif’s Gardening Store and more. Like “Animal Crossing: City Folk,” they’re located in one convenient location. Unlike “City Folk,” however, you have to work to unlock most of them.
It takes time, effort and a lot of bells to open all the stores, and while the convenience of having from the beginning is nice in “City Folk,” there’s a sense of accomplishment that can’t be beat with the gradual growth of your town’s Main Street in “New Leaf.”
Needless to say, however, it’s costly to unlock all the stores and pay your mortgage at the same time—especially when your mortgage is over 7,000,000 bells. Luckily, there’s a place in “New Leaf” you can catch the costliest bugs and fish anytime of the year—the island.
An all-summer, all-the-time getaway, the island is filled with beetles, sharks, butterflies and all sorts of items that can be sold for major bank. Additionally, the island features mini games that can be played with friends and used to purchase island-specific rewards, such as a wetsuit that lets you swim and catch new kinds of fish.
There’s many features “New Leaf” has to offer that I didn’t cover—such as Club LOL, the Dream Suite and the Roost Café—that make it simple to see how easily one can lose track of time. Though it’s not a game for everyone by any means (especially for fans of first-person shooters or games heavily driven by story), it’s a nice way to kill time or distract yourself from studies. It’s a relaxing game with lots to do, and one that will entertain newcomers and old fans alike.