How can Animal Crossing: New Leaf be described? As a newcomer to the franchise, it may be described as a pleasant surprise. Why? Well, it is easy to point out the “fault” that here is not much to do, but the Nintendo 3DS activity log will say otherwise, claiming a play time well past twenty hours. New Leaf may not have sophisticated gameplay, but it does a really good job playing the human being’s natural want for new things.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf begins with a train ride with a character some may recognize from the early 2000s. After a nice chat establishing yourself and the town you are going to, you arrive to your destination. Thing is, everyone seems certain that you are their new mayor. With not much choice, the life of the mayor settles in, but not before getting a new home planned from Tom Nook. The life of constantly owing money and funding projects begins.
Things start out predictably barren, but do not take too much time to get going. Your character will live in a tent for a bit, while you raise money for basic items that will help farm more money. In addition to getting the down payment done as quickly as possible to establish your actual house, you also will spend some time winning the approval of the citizens before major mayor work may be performed. Once all prerequisites are finished, the game settles into the main gameplay.
At the simplest level, Animal Crossing is about farming up a lot of money to get new things. A large portion of time is going to be spent running around collecting items and selling them off to pay off loans, get new items, fund public projects, etc. While this may sound like a recipe for a really dull grind, New Leaf limits the number of items per session; they do not regenerate in a short amount of time. Because fruit does not grow back on trees in ten minutes and fish do not constantly swim into view, there is only so much that can be collected until the town is picked dry. Save the game, come back an hour later, and there is some more to collect. So why would someone constantly try to collect and sell all possible items found out in the open? How about having an absurdly expensive house expansion, or a really cool fountain for the town? Wow, that flat-screen TV would be awesome in my house. Animal Crossing is brilliant (and evil) in its ways of feeding the human desire of constantly wanting more cool things. Beach seashells will not earn much in a thirty minute session, but the little bits will add up to one cool new bridge for the town in the future.
Constantly trying to make money can get a bit dull, but there are other residents within the town. They may ask for advice, trade items, and ask for favors. In addition, the town folk have very likeable personalities and are quite dynamic in their actions and words. Every now and then, one may even not like you. Over time, some new residents may move in, and others may feel that it’s time to move on. Animal Crossing does heavily rely on the real-world clock for tasks. This includes scheduling visits with friends, dates for events, and other time-sensitive tasks. Using the real-world clock adds a nice quality of some connection to the real world. New Leaf makes use of the Nintendo 3DS’s online features and is quite amazing. You may visit friends’ towns locally or over the Internet, and they may visit yours. With StreetPass, people share each other’s own mayor homes, viewable through a massive model home area.
New Leaf keeps to Animal Crossing’s cute, very friendly, and simple presentation. The visuals are not mind-boggling, but it is very consistent, colorful, and stress-free. Likewise, the music is nicely cheerful, and matches the mood, including rainy weather. There aren’t many unique tracks, but it does not feel like a persistent problem.
While there may be not much depth to be found the gameplay, Animal Crossing: New Leaf really delivers on providing an incentive to keep working for something. In addition, the town citizens really add to the community feeling, the connectivity features are very nice, and the use of the real-world clock adds a connection to the real-world. It is a game that is very easy to come back to every couple hours just to play for another fifteen minutes. And because New Leaf is on the 3DS, you can constantly farm more money outside your house.
Final Score: 8.5/10