Meet Your Newest Addiction
2008 was a bit of a messy year for Nintendo fans. The big "core" title unveiled for the Wii at that year's E3 was Animal Crossing: City Folk, a title that, while absolutely fun, was more of the same when compared to its predecessor, the Nintendo DS' Wild World. Many called the game a lazy sequel, so it makes sense that the developers of the Animal Crossing series took that criticism to heart when making the latest installment of the series, primed for the Nintendo 3DS, Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The biggest structural change the series has even seen is being able to become mayor of your town and turn it from sleepy little town to hoppin' and boppin' place to be-- with your personal signature on it. What it all adds up to is the greatest Animal Crossing yet, and a great Nintendo 3DS killer app for the summer.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf starts out innocently enough. Your character rides a train and is approached by a cat named Rover. How you answer his questions will actually determine what your character looks like in-game. If you're the first person to play the game, you'll be asked the name of the town you're going to, and even get to skim through and look various maps of your prospective town before selecting the one you'd like to call home.
As you exit from the train, you are greeted by a group of extremely excited animal locals, led by Isabelle. It turns out Tortimer, the tortoise mayor of past games, has finally stepped out of the shoes of being mayor and for some reason everyone expects you to slide your feet into them. You really have no choice but to expect, lest you wish to disappoint your perky crowd (which you can't do anyway, even if you want to). Thus, after planting a tree in your village's town square as part of a ceremony, your road to having power over the people begins.
|Now you own these people...|
Once your approval process is over with, you can start running your town. As mayor, you can set ordinances, such as one to make shops stay open later than usual, or set an ordinance to make your town's flowers stay in bloom longer. For someone who plays late at night, the former allows me to enjoy the game better unlike past titles whose strict schedules you needed to follow. In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the game revolves around you and not the other way around.
Then there's the abundant amount of public works projects you can initiate, one per day. These are things like lampposts, benches, fountains, wells, landmarks and other interesting items for your town that can be placed generally wherever you want them. Much like placing where you wished to live, you can see ahead of time what the end project will look like and either accept or reject that location. Through generous donations by you, the animals in town, the other players in town, and guests in your town, you can meet the cash requirement to see your project come into full fruition, ending with a quick ceremony to celebrate your village's latest success.
|Congratulations are definitely in order.|
|Your home is your castle-- literally!|
Make a room a temple straight out
of the Legend of Zelda franchise!
While the mayor has a lot to do, that first player is the only one who can have any mayoral duties, which is disappointing. The other three prospective players serve as normal everyday citizens. However, even then, there's plenty of tasks that can be done, such as filling up one's fish and insect encyclopedia by catching all the varieties, digging up fossils, collecting furniture, paying off their own house debts to Tom Nook, speaking with and helping out the animal locals, heading to the island where it's summertime all the time, and opening the gate to their town for travelers to visit via Wi-Fi, or going out and venturing into a friend's village. Both of which are pleasantly lacking of lag, depending on how strong all players' connections are.
|With Wi-Fi play you can have a girls' slumber party!|
Animal Crossing was always a series that played itself even if you weren't there, and that is once again true of New Leaf. If you don't keep up with your town, pull weeds and water flowers, your town will look relatively messy in a week's time. (Not to mention cockroaches will infest your home! Yuck!) Sometimes the game can feel like a chore-- like you're being forced to play it or else you will suffer a penalty or miss out on something special. This is one of the main issues of the Animal Crossing series in general. It can feel a lot like work at times, but the end result is usually very rewarding, not to mention very relaxing.
Different times of year mean
different looks for your town.
|A look at one of my finished projects.|
[SPC Says: 9.5/10]