Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review – Party like it’s 2002!

Animal Crossing New LeafThe original Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube, or Nintendo 64 in Japan, left its mark on the gaming world by introducing many young gamers to a fun life-simulation experience. Allowing players to do year-round activities and celebrate holidays, the game nestled its way into the hearts of many young players. After two sequels, the series looked to be headed downhill as the third game received more mixed reviews than the previous installments. Now, with New Leaf being the fourth game in the series, expectations were high, meaning the chance of disappointing were even higher.

The game starts out reminiscent to the original, with your character riding on a train answering questions. What’s new is that on the train you can pick your town map from a few options. This added customization, as well as the inclusion of more clothing styles, is a welcome addition. There are more additions from previous incarnations, many minor including a graphics update and the addition of hanging furniture.

The game, like its predecessors, is not story driven, with most of its enjoyment coming from daily tasks in an effort to improve your city. For the first time in the series, the game allows you to play as mayor of your town, which helps you improve the city in more ways than ever before. The lack of focused story might sound uninteresting, but it’s entirely the opposite. Each day collecting coins, catching fish and buying furniture is a day well spent in the town of your choice.

The beginning of the game is slow, with you first trying to garner 10,000 bells to put a down payment for your house. Around the same time, you also need to raise your town approval to 100%. Both can take a while, with most bells being gained through the selling of bugs and fish. Despite being time consuming, both goals are made better with townsfolk who often talk to you and gossip about other animals in the city. After the house is built and the loan is paid off, you can continue to expand the house and meet new townsfolk. With each expansion, the loan grows in price, forcing you to work harder to pay it off. There’s no rush to pay the loans, so you can enjoy the game at a casual pace. If you feel the need to rush, though, shaking seemingly empty trees is a good way to find bells, and beehives.

The game’s graphics look beautiful, especially for a handheld game. It looks similar to the original Animal Crossing, but crisper and less blocky. It’s difficult to tell on the 3DS XL that the pixels are being stretched, making the game still look great despite being on a screen much larger than intended. New Leaf’s 3D capabilities add to the game, but are not required. The 3D adds depth to the game and makes trees, bugs and other objects pop out of screen. The 3D is a welcome addition, but using it too much for some can cause headaches, so be sure to use it sparingly if that’s a fear.

One issue is that you can easily lose progress as the 3DS’s power button is close to the base of the right thumb. This issue is more with the 3DS and varying hand size, but it would be nice if there was a form of frequent, or semi-frequent, auto-saving. This would save players from the occasional stress of powering down the system accidentally. For those with smaller hands, this most likely isn’t even an issue, but an auto-save feature would have been a pleasant addition.

Also, there does come a time when many of the characters dialogue become stale. Depending on the season and time of day, most townsfolk will have something new to say, but the same can’t be said for store owners. Some store owners, like the museum owner and Timmy and Tommy Nook, say the same thing day and night for a very long time. The biggest problem with this is that with some can be long blocks of text that can be an inconvenience to the gamer.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf can’t help but remind you of the original game, but that isn’t a bad thing. All those great past memories, like making friends and playing hide and seek with other characters come alive once more. The game is made for both children and adults, and the nostalgia it provides is bountiful. Even after over 10 years, the Animal Crossing series is still the cream of the crop.

Rating:

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13 Comments

  1. Kevin Wong

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been considering picking up a 3DS specifically for this game and the next Smash Bros

    • Austin Bender

      I got the 3DS because of this game and a few others and I so far don’t regret the purchase. Nothing beats good old nostalgia.

      • Kevin Wong

        yeah, and A Link Between Worlds seems interesting. A Link to the Past was my first real Zelda game and my feelings for that particular installment are really strong.

        • Austin Bender

          That one does sound interesting. I was very hesitant on picking up a 3DS early on because of how poor their launch games seemed, now they’re really getting some great games.

  2. I say its like Harvest Moon and The Sims put together. Can’t get enough of it!

    • Austin Bender

      That’s a great comparison. It takes some of the best features of both, adds in some original aspects and really makes for a great game.

  3. Nicholas Devin

    I’m keen to play this game. I ordered it online and I am currently waiting for it to arrive with anticipation. I have had a 3DS for a while now, and I believe that this year has an amazing line up for the handheld.

    • Austin Bender

      I ordered another 3DS game online and have been impatiently waiting for it. The 3DS’s line-up looks great, I’m excited.

  4. Ivy Decker

    New Leaf definitely met all my expectations. It’s just as fun as the older versions and the graphics look great.

    • Austin Bender

      Yeah, the graphics look fantastic. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I hadn’t been a fan of the handheld version of the game, but it doesn’t feel like a handheld game at all.

  5. Anna Williams

    I used to play Animal Crossing on my DS a lot of the time, this is making me nostalgic for it.

    I wonder if that annoying mole character who yells at you for turning off your console/not resetting is still in the game? 😛

  6. Jimmy Haver

    This was a great review. I’ve loved the Animal Crossing series ever since I played the GCN game back in elementary school. I was a little skeptical about New Leaf but I ended up buying a 3DS just to play it, even if it would turn out being the worst game in the franchise. New Leaf is packed with enough nostalgia to please the die hard fan of the series (like when Rover comments about not riding the train rails ‘since 2002 or so’) while it also keeps the gameplay ‘fresh’ enough to entertain the newcomers to the series. It is probably my favorite game in the series.

  7. Johnny begood
    0

    Yup, the original/port/port/port of Animal Forest/Animal Forest Plus/Animal Crossing/Animal Forest e Plus, were localized ports of the original. The world didn’t see Animal Forest until it went to the states and became a Crossing (to attract more American players the name was among other things changed). Animal Forest makes much better sense in hindsight as a name than Animal Crossing ever did, but that’s beyond the point. This is the 4th unique game of the series, and they debut roughly ever 3 years (New Leaf took the longest, but also has the most content). So, expect a Wii U version, should Nintendo keep alternating home/handheld/home/handheld pattern to come out in 2015 at the earliest (2012 was tobidase doubutsu no mori debut).

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