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Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review – Goodbye, Real Life
Animal Crossing is the perfect example of a series that dares to be different and always manages to pull it off. You see, there’s no story to Animal Crossing, there’s no particular goal or even point to the game and yet we get so addicted and always come back for more. How do Nintendo manage to do this every time? They create the most charming, relaxing and fun game possible.
Some might say that Animal Crossing: New Leaf is simply improving on an idea that’s been rehashed many times. After all, there have been quite a few AC games and they all pretty much follow the same formula. However, New Leaf doesn’t just improve on little niggly problems you may have found in the last DS based AC game, Wild World, it creates a whole bunch of new reasons to keep you coming back.
In past AC games you’ve just been a simple villager and you had very little say in how your town looked or functioned. In New Leaf, you accidentally become the mayor, meaning you decide what to build, whether your town comes alive during the day or night and, in fact, you can customize almost everything. Got a piece of furniture you like but hate the pattern or color? Not a problem! It can be changed to whatever design you want. Want to live in a castle? That’s possible too. You’re in charge completely this time round, so if you hate Mr Resetti, you don’t have to build him, it’s up to you what your town becomes.
Another new feature is Tortimer’s Island, a sunny isle that can be visited by you and your friends. You can play mini-games there, buy souvenirs or simply catch bugs and fish you can only get during the summer, because on this island, it’s summer all year round. To make the beach even more fun, you can now swim too with the aid of a wetsuit.
Graphically, the game looks amazing. Everything is pleasing to the eye, the water shimmers, the sand is glittery and in true Nintendo style, everything is just so colorful. New Leaf looks so good, screenshots don’t do it justice. The animations of the characters have also been improved upon, the changes may only be small but seeing a character do something like wave goodbye to you when you leave their house just breathes more life into the already very lovable animal villagers.
Probably the biggest improvement in New Leaf is the online mode. AC has always tried to be a social game but visiting your friends towns in previous games hasn’t always been an easy experience. With New Leaf it’s easy to check whether your friends are online, whether their towns gates are open (meaning you can join their game) and you can open and close your gates whenever you wish too. You can play with up to three other people at the same time. Plus, if you want to chat to your friends when they’re not in your town, you can add them as a “best friend”, meaning they can send you messages in game when you’re not playing together. This makes it far easier to arrange meet ups or for just finding out what your friends are up to.
You’re guaranteed to find something new to do every day in New Leaf, especially when special events are running. There are more common events such as the Bug Off event which has your town compete for prizes for catching the rarest bug, and there are also seasonal events such as Bunny Day during Easter. It might even be a villagers birthday, or maybe you just want to earn some bells (the currency) towards building Club LOL or upgrading your house. There aren’t many games that keep you coming back each and every day the way New Leaf does.
There’s a feeling I get from Animal Crossing: New Leaf that I rarely get with any other game. It’s a happy feeling, a feeling that I’m safe, relaxed and have nothing to worry about. There are no missions, no enemies, not even any real challenges. This type of gameplay isn’t for everyone but in an industry swamped with first person shooters and zombie games, New Leaf provides a refreshingly calming and unique experience that is sorely needed. You might not play New Leaf every day for hours on end but it’s a great came to pick up in your lunch break, or at the end of a hard day. Sometimes a gamer just wants to catch some fish and talk to a virtual dog called Bones, and hey, that’s okay.