Animal Crossing New Leaf Review

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Genre: Simulation    
Players: 1-4      Online: Yes     Streetpass: Yes

 Trophieswhat are these?
Trophy for a Charming gameAddictive TrophyBroad Appeal TrophyCollector TrophyDesigner TrophyTrophy for having great attention to detailTrophy of impressive 3DTrophy for a game with great graphics or artstyle.Evolutionary TrophyGreat Music TrophySlow Paced TrophyGreat StreetPass TrophyText Heavy TrophyThis game to be considered for either game of the year or best game on its system for the year.

Animal Crossing New Leaf: The addiction is back.

Animal Crossing New Leaf Review
My first Animal Crossing game was on the Nintendo DS. I was hooked. It was perfect for handheld gaming to play in short bursts. I tried playing the Wii version, but felt it wasn’t as suited for a home console and hadn’t progressed enough as a series entry.

Roll on the 3DS version. Could it capture my prolonged attention for a second time?
Animal Crossing New Leaf Review
Animal Crossing New Leaf is a hard game to explain to anyone unfamiliar with the series. Essentially you are a human villager that moves into a village (reflecting the clock and date on your system) inhabited by various animal neighbours, you spend your days fishing and bug hunting to earn bells (the game currency), or donate them to your museum. You can use the bells to buy new furniture and clothing each day or pay to expand your house. You can also custom design your own clothing, town flag and town tune. It sounds simple and basic, but it feeds into an artistic desire and compulsion to complete collections. But what makes animal crossing so compelling is how it dresses up everything in a charming, humorous and sometimes odd manner. It is also a game to take at a slow, relaxed pace with incentives to return to the game each day – as well as the possibility of new furniture, you get special visitors coming to your town and events that take place, often reflecting real life events like Halloween, Christmas and April Fools.

Animal Crossing New Leaf Review

New Leaf takes things in a new direction by making you the Mayor as you step off the train into town of your naming. This new role doesn’t give you much power – you can’t randomly evict residents. You can set ordinances, which affect how your town runs, for example you can set it so your town is an early bird or night owl town, meaning things open earlier in the morning or close later at night. Which makes the game much more accessible for anyone that works shifts.

Animal Crossing New Leaf Review
The main thing you do as the Mayor is put down public works. These range from benches, to street lights, to a police station or Cafe. For the first time you can customise the outside of your town, choosing which projects to put down and where. Your town can now look much more individual. Of course, it costs bells to put down public works, encouraging you to keep playing and earning more bells.

Animal Crossing New Leaf Review
Talking about customisation; as before you can create tshirts, umbrellas and paving. Now you can make pro designs, which allow you to make more complex tshirt designs (designing the front, back and sleeves separately) and create standee designs. You can also customise furniture, putting your own designs on bedding and other furniture. Also for the first time you can customise the outside of your house from a preset collection. Eventually you unlock a machine that lets you scan QR codes, so if you’re not confident in your designing abilities, you can scan someone else’s creation.

Animal Crossing New Leaf Review
Other additions include a high street, with clothes shop, furniture shop and other shops that become available after playing for a length of time – such as the night club. You can now also swim and dive, giving you access to new species you can submit to your museum.

A few days into starting your game a tropical island becomes available to visit, either alone or with up to 3 friends. While there you can catch rarer fish and bugs. You can also play mini games, such as hide and seek, fossil matching and whack-a-mole. By completing the mini games you earn medals which can be used to buy items only available at the island shop.

Animal Crossing New Leaf Review
There is also the HHA Streetpass showcase section. Once activated, when you streetpass someone with a copy of the game, a copy of their house will appear in the showcase plaza. You can be nosey and see how they have decorated their house and even order items from their house via a catalogue. It’s a great addition.

When you streetpass with someone, you can also view their profile, which may contain a dream code. By using the dream suite, you can enter their dream address and visit the their entire town in a dream state – meaning anything you do to their town won’t have any repercussions. But sometimes you’ll meet a character called Wendall, who’ll let you take their designs back with you.

There are countless small additions to the game that just add to the experience and I’m still encountering them a month after starting my own town. Things like tree stumps having rare patterns sometimes appear on them. Your mail box literally shaking when it’s full and your character gasping when they are wearing heavy clothing in Summer.

All these additions make this the best Animal Crossing released so far. There are many many things to do and collect. But its the animations and interactions with residents that really add the charm. The animal neighbours are neurotic, needy and gossipy – but remain adorable and so funny with it.

Animal Crossing New Leaf Review

My only gripe is around the lack of progress with social communication with online friends. You can have up to 4 players in one town. The positive is that you can now add players as best friends and chat to them even when you are not in the same town together. However, there is no voice chat, you are very limited with the amount characters you can send in a message and the messages appear on screen far too briefly – if you happen to be moving from one area to another (while an interlinking loading screen appears) you can very easily miss any sent messages in that time. Despite this limitation it is sill great fun to play online with friends.

Animal Crossing New Leaf has to be the best Animal Crossing game to date. There is a familiarity to anyone who has played a game in the series previously, but there is enough new content to grip you again and it is a lot of fun customising the outside of your town. It is also the best looking Animal Crossing so far, the residents look more fluffy and polished when they should do. The game is also great in 3D. In my month of playing the game I have clocked 200 hours of play, making it my most played 3DS game.

Head Heart
Great 3D Charming Characters
Great Graphics Funny
Many hours gameplay Atmospheric Music
Lots to customise Very addictive
  Outstanding  97%

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Animal Crossing New Leaf
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David Lee
David is the founder of Heart Gaming. Regular writer, reviewer and editor. Has a strong passion for gaming; particularly the Legend of Zelda series.