Animal Crossing: New Leaf 3DS Review
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo Genre: Simulation Players: 1
Age Rating: 3+ Other console/handheld formats: N/A
There have been many iterations of Animal Crossing ever since its first release on the GameCube, with each new addition making use of the ever-evolving Nintendo technology. Released on the Nintendo 3DS was Animal Crossing: New Leaf, another new version in the series that, this time, took advantage of the new aspects of the 3DS handheld.
For one, the graphics have never looked nicer; Animal Crossing isn’t a series known for its groundbreaking graphics and the focus was never on how it looked anyway. It is still a lovely looking game and has certainly improved on the grainy graphics of the original DS and is as bright, colourful and eye-catching as ever, with equally quirky and colourful characters to boot.
The focus of these games has always been the gameplay and Animal Crossing has always had a lot to offer, with even more being added with every new version. There is always something to see and do and this version is no different. All the familiar elements that players have come to know and love is still there, such as the real-time day and night cycle, season cycle, visits from out-of-towners, all the eccentric neighbours, the ability to plant, fish, go bug-catching, fruit picking and so forth.
This time, of course, new elements have been added to expand the Animal Crossing universe, with new shops, characters and with more emphasis on customisation, enabling you to personalise your town more than ever. This time, you also have the ability to run the town as you have now become the Mayor. Becoming the Mayor opens up a whole new way to play, including being able to customise your town, adding architecture and structures and setting Town Ordinances. You are told by your neighbours what they would like to see around the town and it is up to you to decide what to place, and these can include a Police Station, Reset Centre (though with the annoying Resetti, most players will probably forgo this) a Coffee Shop, a wishing well, bridges, clocks and street lighting, amongst many other things.
New buildings also make an appearance, including Re-Tail, a recycling shop where you can take all your items and junk and make a bit of cash and where you can also customise your own furniture. Run by Reese and Cyrus, you can ask Cyrus to change a piece of furniture that you take to him, or you can ask him to make you something using the newly added ore that you can find by hitting the rocks. There is also a nightclub where KK Slider and comedian, Dr. Shrunk, now reside, and if you give Dr. Shrunk something good to eat, he will reward you with a brief comedy act. KK Slider makes an appearance every night, ready with the tunes to make you dance the night away, but also has his own usual slot to belt out his own records.
Along with the new buildings, old ones make a welcome return. The Able Sisters shop is still there and as well as being able to purchase clothing and accessories, creating your own design has also been enhanced, enabling you to make more complex designs than ever before, and in even more varieties. This time you can choose whether to make long sleeve, short sleeve or no sleeve shirts and dresses and with PRO designs you can even make hats. Shampoodle also returns and this time it’s not only your hair that can receive a bit of treatment, but also your eye colour, and you can even use your own Mii character, though, to be honest, it did seem rather creepy-looking, so I just kept to my normal character. The museum is back along with Blathers and, even though the observatory has gone, you can still customise the second floor to reflect that of your town, adding your own bits and pieces to set up what your town represents and its theme.
Upgrading your home also makes a return and can all be done at Nooks Homes, another new shop addition. You can add a room or increase space, allowing you to squeeze in even more of your precious items. You can also customise your home, including changing the entrance, surrounding fence, the post box, roof and exterior walls. You can choose these modifications from the stock on display in Nooks Homes.
The villagers have also been enhanced, with two new species being introduced – hamster and deer – with many more characters being added, bringing the total up to 313. Two new personalities have also been introduced: smug and uchi, with uchi female characters acting sister-like and having a caring, protective nature, giving you medicine when stung by a bee and even giving you fighting tips.
The ability to fish, bug hunt and plant has returned, but this time you are also able to swim and dive and can now collect objects that reside on the sea bed. There are more fish to collect, more variations in plants, and also more bug additions. The new Tortimer Island also allows you to find rare fish and bugs all year round, though this is an addition that I was in two minds about as that meant you could collect everything in a much shorter timescale and also wouldn’t offer any ocean surprises in your hometown come summertime. Of course, the new additions, such as collecting sea bed objects, will allow for some longevity, but for those that play Animal Crossing for hours at a time, it could still mean a shorter completion time, at least in regards to collections.
On the Island there is still plenty to keep you occupied. As well as bug-hunting, fishing and diving, you can also play mini-games – or ‘tours’, as they are known in-game – to earn medals. Mini-games (tours) mostly consist of you trying to catch as many of an object as possible within a given time, be it fruit, bugs or fish. There are also scavenger hunts, hide-and-seek, balloon popping and Hammer Time, in which you have to chase and hit a remote-controlled Cornimer robot as many times as possible within the time limit. The medals earned in these games can be used at a small stall found only on the Island, where you can buy rare furniture not found in your town. An advantage to the Island is that here you can make quite a few thousand Bells, with a bit of effort. Hint: try to catch as many beetles as you can possibly fit into the container by the counter, which you will need to do in order to take anything home.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf also makes use of the 3DS’s online function. Like the older versions, you can still visit other towns, either by WiFi or via DS to DS, and as well as all the usual activities, such as Fishing and Bug Hunting, this time there is more that you are able to do. On Tortimers Island you and up to three other players can take part in the mini-games as well as explore the island. You can also visit the Dream Suite, unlocked when you catch Isabelle, your assistant, sleeping on the job. Here you can visit other players’ towns and can do what you like there, without making any permanent changes to their ‘actual’ town. This addition does seem rather unnecessary as it is only really there to show off different towns and enables you to do what you like without ruining all the effort the player has done. The only real advantage to the Dream Suite is that, if you upload your own dream town daily for other players to visit and trample, you will gain 5000 Bells. As mentioned earlier, players can also make designs at the Able Sisters, though this time you can save your designs as QR codes, allowing you to share your designs online. Using the 3DS’s Pedometer, you can also collect Play Coins which will enable you to buy Fortune Cookies from Tommy and Timmy’s shop. Once the Fortune is read out, you can exchange it for a piece of merchandise, most of which are items that were available as DLC on previous Animal Crossing games, though you will only receive a normal piece of furniture if the ticket is a dud. As you can probably tell, this reviewer didn’t make much use of the online functionality, instead depending on Wikia for all her information. Thanks Wikia!
Animal Crossing has always been a very intricate game, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf is no different, with much to see and do and with many obscure ways of finding and doing things. It is the small attention to details that truly makes a game feel special and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, with its focus on customisation and fine detailing, feels very much like a personal experience and is a game that keeps on giving.