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Animal Crossing New Leaf Review (3DS, 2013)

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July 12th, 2013

Animal Crossing New Leaf is one freakishly dull game… to review, that is. See, the game itself is one charming, marvelous little time waster with a ton of stuff to do, see and explore — but the act of actually talking about what you can do comes off as terribly boring.

Just the other day I was at a surprise party hosted for a good friend of mine, and one of the attending gamers – heck, there where no non-gamers present – tried to explain his new-found fascination for this brand new Animal Crossing for the 3DS. It took only a couple of sentences before someone loudly interrupted the poor sob, bellowing an uproarious ‘Boooooooring!’ before slumping back in his chair.

Actually, that person was me.

And I’m still apologizing for this grave error. Animal Crossing New Leaf is the kind of game you just got to experience and play, not merely read or hear about. That being said, just get to it and buy the game already if you’ve got access to a 3DS and stop reading my review.

Or let me try and explain its addictive hooks to you, New Leafs fiendish talons that cut through your free time like a fervent knife through butter.

New Leaf’s introduction is instantaneously engrossing, asking you right of the bat what type of person you are – altering your avatar in meaningful ways – and what your town’s name and layout is. Upon arriving at said town – mine is called Oakvale for instance, being quite the Fablesmuck here – you are being mistaken for the new mayor! This brings a heap of responsibilities on the table, like keeping the town squeaky-clean, adding new buildings, keeping your people happy and the like…

…but not before all-time villain Tom Nook comes along and smacks you on the head with a towering mortgage on your new house. Being mayor doesn’t mean you get stuff for free, you know! And thus your long road as working-class hero begins.

Lucky for you, making money is quite the fun thing to do. You can buy yourself a good set of equipment, like a bug net and a fishing rod, and get cracking. Catching bugs and fishes nets you quite the profit at the Lama-owned Re-Tail store, and slowly but surely you can begin expanding your home, putting stuff in your empty rooms and even start constructing some ornaments for your town.

New Leaf operates on your 3DS clock in realtime however, so don’t expect your dormant town to become a bustling mini-city full of shops, cafes and happy villagers in a couple of hours. Making enough money for just one upgrade costs quite the time investment, even with the new tropical island full of rare bugs, and building things and growing trees take up from one to three days!

And so the true nature of New Leaf becomes apparent: you’re going to play this game about one hour… every day. Only then you really get your true Animal Crossing-experience. Special events pop-up now and then, villagers will invite you for parties, special characters show up once a week at a set time, trees are ready to harvest every two days, flowers will wilt when being left unattended and so on. It feels like one of those vulgar Free-to-play iOS-games, but with boatloads of fun and charm and without the much-maligned money-grubbin’ paywall.

And thus, New Leaf will sneakily make its way in your daily routine. I wake up half and hour before my alarm clock goes haywire, sprinkle the garden, look for fossils and pluck some weeds. Then I close my 3DS and get up for work, only to pop it back on around ten AM when the stores open up and I can peruse their daily-changing wares. Lastly, I grab my 3DS after dinner and go bug hunting… everybody knows the sweet, expensive critters scuttle tropical islands after seven PM. One last trip to sell my bulging and squirming pouch full of beasties, deposit my cash at the bank and I’m done for the day.

I know this eerily resembles just plain-old work – without getting actually paid – but the world and the wonderfully written characters are more than enough reason to get back. This is a game worth getting a 3DS for and the ginormous amount of friends playing and enjoying this game is quite baffling. Seriously, if you’ve managed to read this far, you’re doing it wrong.

Be sure to invite me to your town, I’ll make sure not to trample your flowers and slapping your villagers around with my shovel… too much.

Presentation 9.5

Graphics 8.5

Gameplay 9.5

Sound 8.0

Longevity 10

Total score:



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