Animal Crossing: New Leaf isn’t just a game – it’s a whole new world full of lovable characters and insurmountable charm. A world where you’ll sometimes find a Metro id or a Trifocals in a fortune cookie, where you can arrange your surroundings to perfectly suit your tastes, and where the Mayor still chips in at the local coffee joint. Every day feels different from the last, like you’re living out a separate (and wonderful) life with your wacky villagers. There’s always something to work toward, something to look forward to, something to be proud of or to remember fondly. New Leaf is a truly magical game, one that you can easily expect to invest hundreds of hours in over the course of years. Anyone with access to a 3DS should absolutely give this game a try – just be prepared to kiss your “real” life goodbye.
For players who crave a more corporeal form of interaction, you can also engage in a series of delightful mini-games with players across the globe on Resort Island, headed up by the former Animal Crossing mayor, Tortimer. The island’s perpetual summer is rather relaxing, and provides a great opportunity to stock up on seasonal fruit, beetles, and sharks for the selling. It’s also convenient that you are fully able to enjoy the island and its diversions all by yourself if, for whatever reason, you don’t feel like going online. Finally, Street Pass has been utilized to allow you to view the houses of anyone you pass who has a copy of the game. It’s really cool getting to see everyone’s different decorating styles, as well as being able to purchase the items that catch your eye. In a way, it creates the illusion of a persistent game world for you and your Street Pass friends, which is a nice touch.
What sets New Leaf apart – and makes it a cut above the rest – is that the barriers laid down in past entries have largely been lifted, allowing for a sense of freedom, creation, and ownership like never before.
As the acting Mayor (a first for the series), you’re now able to decorate not just the inside of your house, but the outside too, as well as your whole village. From the very outset you have a hand in deciding the layout of your village and the placement of your house, and eventually it’s all on you to decide the location of certain establishments (like the Roost and the Police Station), as well as to determine what decorations will grace your town and where they’ll go. You can place a miniature Stonehenge by the beach, a Zen bell by the train station, some streetlamps by your favorite villager’s house, or even surround your own place (which can be a castle, if you like) with fountains. The possibilities expand the more you play, as villagers keep making suggestions for possible Public Works projects to improve your town. You can even personalize specific pieces of furniture by taking them over to Cyrus at the resell shop, ensuring that your home and village will be quite distinct from anyone else’s.
One of the most astounding things about New Leaf is how much there is to do. In just a few weeks I’ve put in well over a hundred hours, and there’s still so much I’d like to accomplish. In addition to the familiar activities, new additions like diving and swimming allow you to explore and interact with your town in a whole new way. It’s refreshing, and a whole lot of fun. Completing public works projects, customizing furniture, and visiting the variety of shops across the tracks will also take up their fair share of time, and Nintendo fans will be pleased to know that there’s now a whole range of Big N items you can acquire to decorate your house with (so if you’re interested in getting a Triforce or Metroid for your living room, be sure to buy those fortune cookies on sale in the Nook brothers’ shop). Throw in new holidays, new characters (like Reese and Cyrus from the resell shop), new clothing options (pants! )#), new furniture and so on, and you’re left with an experience that is fresh, yet familiar. Simple, yet refined.