Animal Crossing New Leaf is the latest entry to the series for the 3DS system. Let’s move in and see what all the fuss is about.
I love Animal Crossing. I’m not going to lie, I really do. Why? I’m not entirely sure. So, I’m going to start by talking about what I don’t like about Animal Crossing, as really, there isn’t a lot I didn’t (or rather, don’t, as I am still hooked) like.
The first thing you will notice with Animal Crossing New Leaf, and like its predecessors, is the lack of story line. Unlike the others, however, you are not simply a resident in your new home town, but rather, the townsfolk have mistaken you for their new mayor! None of them has seemed to have run any background checks and is quite happy for you to run their town. Apart from this, there really isn’t any story line to go by, it’s really just an open-ended game, where you make your own fun, be that inviting friends over to have bug catching competitions, or searching high and low through your town for those precious fossils to donate to the museum.
Like any person moving to a new town, your character is, for lack of a better word, a wandering drifter, with no home, so luckily, the happens to be a crooked… sorry, did I say crooked? I meant robbing… I mean friendly (saved it!) racoon in town. Regulars to the series will know him, new players will learn to loath him, he is in fact, Tom Nook. He gets you in debt from day one, he first offers to build you a house but neglects to tell you the cost until after construction is completed.
In a round about way, I guess this could be considered story line, as most of the game revolves around making enough bells to pay back the racoon mafia, even if he does say there is no time limit in which to repay him; I just don’t trust him.
So moving on to what I do like about Animal Crossing New Leaf. The graphics. When I booted the game for the first time, I was welcomed to the familiar graphical style from the other games, but when I started to explore Utopia (Yes, my town is a paradise!) I noticed just how much I loved the style. It’s not designed to be super realistic, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel too “kiddy”, there seems to be a small spot in the middle which Animal Crossing has managed to sit snugly.
The 3D effect is pretty good as well, though, being a first party title this is to be expected, I have noticed less shadowing than what I would normally see in say, Monster Hunter. This being said, Nintendo has made good use of the 3DS’ functions, and not just to use them for the sake of it, but to add more enjoyability to the game. After unlocking the large sewing machine in the Able Sister’s shop, you are able to scan QR codes using the device’s cameras, this will allow you to import designs to wear, or to set as flags etc. You can also create codes to share your own designs with the world. The touch screen is used purely for inventories and selecting text, none of this running around nonsense. It all fits together nicely, every thing just works.
Some thing else I have noticed, which seems to be a step up from the older games, is the number of customisation options you have. When you arrive, you get to select what style of town you wish to have, you can change your towns flag, theme tune, your hair styles, clothing, shoes, house interior, house exterior. The list goes on. You might think this is too much, but it’s nice when you go to another town and it really is completely different to your own.
The fruits are still there, serving as your main source of income, and by collecting and growing non-native fruits, you can rack up a nice sum from the Nookling’s store.
It isn’t only things you choose that are different, but also your towns folk. They’re all randomly generated. Different colours, species, attitudes. It’s refreshing. You get attached to some of them as well, I practically shouted “NO!” at the screen when Drago said he was thinking of moving….
Another addition to the series, which is added by being the mayor, is the ability to build more buildings/structures. Need another bridge? Done! A Police Station? Why not! Though, all of these require money, or, more specifically, Bells, which are all collected from donations. AKA, the mayor’s very own wallet.
Animal Crossing is a life sim, which is reflected in game by having timed events. I’ve only come across the fireworks show on Sunday evening so far, but also, residents will make arrangements to come over your house, or invite you to theirs at specific times; missing an appointment will result in upsetting said neighbour. What can I say, being mayor is hard work!
I don’t feel I have done a very good job trying to show why Animal Crossing is a good game, but like myself, many others have the same problem. It is one of those games you can play for ten minutes or 2 hours, and for some reason, you just don’t know why. It’s an enjoyable game, with lots to unlock as you progress, from a tropical island to a night club on the main street. You can visit a friends town online or locally, and buy out their shops collection of wigs if you want, but it’s the freedom to do so which is kind of alluring. There are no rules, and no reason to the game, you make your own fun.