Let me start by saying that Animal Crossing is one of my favourite Nintendo titles around. Back with a new edition to the series, Animal Crossing: New Leaf offers players more customization than ever before and many new features that are sure to keep old and new fans hooked. So are you ready to leave your real life behind? Read on to find out.
Game: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Developer: Nintendo EAD
For the first time in the series you assume the role of mayor in your new town. With your trusty and eager secretary Isabelle, a yellow dog (yes a dog! All the inhabitants of this town are animals!) Your role is to make the town a better place to live. As mayor you can take on community projects to develop your town, placing new buildings and decorations to really make the town your own. As a life simulation there is no fixed story, goal or ending to achieve, only a whole new world to explore. The only limit is your own imagination! So mayor, how will you run your town?
The overall visual style has not changed since its predecessors. Now introduced to the 3DS system there is a real sense of depth to the environment for you to explore. Animal Crossing is rather unique in its style for its cute story book feel, made of geometric shapes, vibrant colours and lo-res textures. Accompanied by charming character designs it is a rather pleasant game to look at. The graphics have been stepped up in New Leaf. The ground has many more tones and shades to it than before, the water looks more realistic, so much that you may really want to take a dip. Most noticeable is that the animals themselves have more texture to them, making them appear to be even more fluffy (or rough and scaly depending on the animal). Big improvements have been made to your character which has now been more realistically proportioned, and you can now customize your style right down from your head to your toes! You can now also determine the style of the outside of your home from a modern house to a traditional Japanese look or even a candy house that looks like it came from the story of Hansel and Gretel. The look of your game will pas with the day. In the morning it will start off light and get brighter through till afternoon, then gradually it will darken as you head into evening with red sky at night, shepherds delight to the dark of night. It really is a charming and relaxing thing to look at.
I will start off with our kooky animal friends. It is hard to describe their language, a good explanation would be squeaky. Their voices have been reversed then sped up like fast forwarding a tape. I find their voices to be very fun though there may be those of you who it may drive crazy after hours of playing, or you may get the odd strange glance in a public space. The background music is very nonchalant and splendidly composed. Tranquil melodies play throughout the day and change tones as time passes. In the morning it starts as a slow, soft melody just as you wake up, then in the afternoon it gets a little more energetic as the daily pace picks up, and as night falls it slows again, becoming gentle, lulling you to sleep. The change in these melodies really adds to the atmosphere. There is one marvellous music act who goes by the name K.K. Slider. This performing dog sings a variety of genres, from pop to rock and even country. He appears on Saturday nights in club 101 and takes requests. His songs mostly consist of sung notes such as do re mi in a robotic, synthesized voice, much like like Japanese vocaloids such as Miku. K.K. Slider also appears in club 101 every other night as DJ K.K. You can acquire all his songs to play in your home at leisure using a record player. They may even find a way onto your phone…
Animal Crossing’s major focus is on player creativity and freedom. New Leaf offers more customization than ever before and allows you to play at your own pace and own way. The world is your oyster! Living in a community of animals you go about your daily life, socialising, shopping, and collecting fish and insects, even doing up your house. Things in real life can be dull but made fun in Animal Crossing. The beauty is you can do anything you want or do nothing you don’t want to do. When you arrive in town you get to pick where you want your house to be, anywhere (so long as there is space). However in New Leaf you start out life living in a tent! Don’t despair, as you earn money by selling fruit or helping villagers you will be able to develop and build your dream home. More customization features have been added in New leaf allowing you to really show off your sense of style with your home. With Tom Nooks Real Estate Agency you can expand and build new rooms including a basement. You can now pick the style of your house and even add fences and new doors, even your mailbox. Wallpaper, flooring and even furniture can all be made to co-ordinate with custom designs you can make in game. Items are no longer just limited to floor space, items can now be hung on walls, like a TV or even a seasonal hanging pumpkin!
Life in Animal Crossing mimics reality thanks to the system clock and calendar. 8am in real life will be 8am in game which makes it all seem so real but is also a shame if you have a job and will miss most of the day in your game. (I know I miss exploring my town whilst I’m at work) The sun will rise and set as time passes and so will seasons, going from a fresh spring to a snowy winter. This means you can even celebrate seasonal holidays in game like Halloween, or build snowmen and have snowball fights, fun! There are even special monthly events like fishing tournaments and the Bug-Off. As mayor you can choose how your town runs with the new Town Ordinance system. Like to stay up late? Well your town can stay up late too. Early riser? Your town can start early with you. This feature really allows you to make the game suit your lifestyle which is great if you hate missing the shops as they normally close at 8pm or you want to catch up with your animal pals. Community Projects allow you to customize your town. Decorations like benches, clocks and topiaries can be placed anywhere and new buildings can be built, giving you access to new buildings. A new area, the Main Street holds all the mains shops, allowing you to come and go easily between them. Here you can find shops such as the Shoe Shank where you can get the latest shoes and even socks, and a Museum where you can host your own exhibitions. The museum can be filled with all the different insects and fish you can collect as well as building dinosaur skeleton’s from found fossils! Swimming has also been introduced. Just put on a wetsuit and dive in!
Life in Animal Crossing New Leaf is not always a walk in the park, free from danger. Just as in real life you may fall into the odd hole if you are not careful and beware shaking those trees or you may find yourself running from a swarm of bees and end up with a rather painful sting! With all the unique personalities in the game do not expect everyone to take pity on your swollen eye…
Connectivity has really stepped up in New Leaf thanks to StreetPass and Local/Internet Play on the 3DS. By passing other people or being in the same room you can visit each other’s towns, as well as playing with your registered friends. With the Island, you and your friends can go on tour with previous mayor Tortimer. These tours are co-op mini games in which you can earn medals to exchange for exclusive items in the souvenir shop and see who has the best skills in your group. Of course these can also be played solo too. Happy Home Showcase allows you to see up to 48 homes seen over StreetPass to get inspiration for your own designs. If you see a piece of furniture that tickles your fancy you can order them from the Happy Home Showcase catalogue. Dream Suit allows you to visit others towns through a dream, be it your friends or a random town. In this state unlike visiting their town for real, here you can do anything you like without any repercussions, your friends will not know. Have some rage kept in? Then let it all out in a dream knowing that you have been sated and destroyed nothing! QR codes have now been utilized. Any pattern you create can be saved as a QR code which can then be scanned by anyone using the 3DS camera, allowing you to share your latest creations! These can be uploaded online via the Nintendo Image Share Service which can be accessed from the console browser, or simply transfer to your computer from the SD card. In all New Leaf is simple fun and offers you the opportunity to really express yourself. No two towns will be alike!
Animal Crossing: New Leaf could last you an eternity! Minutes can turn to hours, hours can turn to days. It is so easy to get sucked in and talk to your delightful animal friends, catch that one bug, water your plants and spend some time fishing, the only limit is your imagination! Though be careful, if you leave your town alone for too long your villagers may move out, some may move in and weeds can overrun your town. Though same as all life, time will move along and constantly change but Animal Crossing New Leaf will always be there for you.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the best in the series yet. You can express yourself in so many ways and escape reality, really losing yourself in the game. Improved connectivity allows you to share your creativity with the world and have fun with co-op play. With its simple style and gameplay this is a game that can be enjoyed by everyone! Whether it is to play for hours or just a quick visit to say hi this is something you can keep with you at all times, I know I do! Pure, simple and fun!