Time for me to call it a night one again. I swear, having a few hours off on Wednesday takes me out of my schedule like crazy. I get so much more tired when I'm out of my routine! Still, those few hours off are worth it. I got to put together this review while I had that break! Please enjoy while I slip off to bed. See you in a few, short hours.
You know I like Nintendo? I feel like they take a wide range of ideas and somehow turn them all into compelling software. It's easy for gamers to see how titles like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda can provide fun and fantasy, but who would have thought that titles like Nintendogs and Wii Fit could be the same? Somehow, some way, Nintendo manages to extract and distill the pure element of fun with almost all of their brands.
While I'm sure it's challenging to do that in every bit of software, I imagine the original idea for Animal Crossing was one of the toughest. Sure, you have cooky animals and crazy conversations, but the core of the franchise focuses on everyday activities. It's a life simulator...it's the Seinfeld of video games! Yet here we are, multiple installments later in this hugely successful franchise.
Many were saying that the Animal Crossing series was ripe for a bit of revamping. The last Wii outing left an all too similar taste in our mouths, but it seems like Nintendo got that feeling as well. It was clear from the first mention of Animal Crossing: New Leaf that Nintendo was out to inject the series with some new fun and direction. Is there enough variety and new content this time around to make it worth another trip to (your town name here)?
Nintendo has been very vocal about the new aspects of New Leaf. First and foremost, you get to play the role of the mayor this time around. That's whether you want to or not! When you arrive at your town, you'll quickly find out that you've been elected to the position of mayor. Tortimer has moved onto more tropical settings in his retirement, meaning someone has to head up the activities and direction of your new town. Thankfully, you have a new assistant named Isabelle that will walk you through your new position with ease.
Does being mayor really change up all that much in Animal Crossing? Truth be told, it really does bring in a completely new layer. You're going to end up caring about your town and its inhabitants even more than you did before. Keeping your town clean, tidy and nice looking was always a motivator before, but now the entire community is depending on you. You better take your job seriously, or else you'll have some majorly peeved neighbors to deal with!
While it takes a couple real-life days to get into the meat-and-potatoes of being the mayor, you'll definitely be hit with tons to do. Most importantly, you have to earn the approval rating of the town in order to progress in your job. Talk to your neighbors, see what they want and make sure you keep the town looking nice. You'll have to plant new trees, clean up weeds and take on other tasks to keep that opinion up. As long as you hit that 100% rating mark (which shouldn't be too much of a struggle), you'll have a world of opportunities open to you.
With great power comes great responsibility! No, you may not be saving the world, but you'll certainly be making it a better place to live. Being mayor lets you put up public notices for the town in order to steer things in the direction you want them. You can make sure all your animal friends chip in with keeping the town pretty, taking some of the chores off of you. You can tell the shops when to open/close, making things work much better around your schedule. You can even take on public construction, such as adding in bridges, benches and other projects to make the best town you can have.
Of course, none of this is going to come free. You'll have to earn enough bells to make sure you can fund these projects. You'll most likely spend a lot of your own cash on these projects, but that's what a good mayor does! The more you spend, the closer you come to fulfilling those projects. Once you completely fund things, you'll definitely hear the praise from your townsfolk. A new bridge to cut travel around town is sure to make everyone's adventures that much more enjoyable.
This mayor's position is a constant gameplay mechanic that drives you unlike any other before it. Animal Crossing always keeps you coming back for more because of the care for your town and its people. Now as mayor, you're more driven than ever to keep visiting. You'll certainly have fun while taking on these tasks, but seeing your town grow and the public opinion rise becomes truly addicting. Before you know it, you'll be spending millions of bells on everything/anything you can add to your town for function or beauty.
As you spend more time handling your mayoral duties, the shopping district in town will continue to grow as well. The more you play, the more action will hit the streets. Depending on what you do, when you do it and how often you perform the activity, you'll have everything from clubs to garden shops open up. It's always wonderful starting up your game for the day, then being surprised with a new building under construction. You won't know what's being worked on until the next day comes, always giving you another major reason to revisit your little slice of virtual heaven.
When you're eventually proud enough of your town, you can always invite friends over to come and check things out. Boast about how great of a mayor you are by showing off all of your public works projects. Let your friends talk to townsfolk so they can gush about how great of a mayor you are. It's always fun to have friends visit your Animal Crossing town, but now you have a new level of gameplay to impress them with!
You can also take those friends with you for a bit of tropical island fun. If you're looking for some competition and mini-game action, a hop on the boat at shore will take you to a tropical island paradise, complete with new beach goodies to collect. Just talk to Tortimer and he'll set you up with activities like diving, fishing tournaments and more. This'll give you a great reason to fire up the game when friends are around, be it online or local. Animal Crossing: New Leaf really is all about customizing the experience you want to have.
That especially bleeds over into your personal home. You don't actually sleep at the mayor's mansion. You have your own house to sleep in and show off your personality, moreso than ever. There's a lot more customization involved in your home this time around, letting you really express your style in ways you couldn't before. Sure, you can still shift around furniture and paint walls, but now the outside of your home has a level of personality injected into it as well.
Once you set things up with your home the way you want it to be, you can always show it off through the Happy Home Showcase. Check out the amazing homes of all those you StreetPass, and even check out what Nintendo themselves have to offer through SpotPass. End up seeing an idea that you like? Take that inspiration and bring it back to your own place! Your own ideas are great, but you never know what you'll be inspired to (steal) create once you see the houses of those around the world!
All this goes on top of the elements that already made the Animal Crossing series so endearing. Head out and fish for hours on end. Maybe you like to collect fossils and take them to Blathers at the museum. Perhaps hunting every type of bug out there is your kind of thing. If you've played any other Animal Crossing game, you know how easy it is to get lost in the simple, everyday activities the game offers. New Leaf brings all the features you love back.
As with other Animal Crossing games, the more you return to New Leaf, the more you'll find to love. Interactions with townsfolk become truly meaningful. You'll have all sorts of holidays and special events to take care of. You can grab special SpotPass items to place in your home or send to friends. Every day, every month gives you something new to do as icing on the cake. It truly is a game you want to keep on your 3DS at all times. It's always great to pop in and see what's up, then call it a day when you've realized that you've been playing for hours.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is without a doubt the boost the series needed. If you thought things were getting a little stale, this is the shot in the arm that things needed. The mayoral activities give you completely new reasons to play, all new interactions to experience and even new reasons to work hard and collect bells. You're still free to do all the other things you love in Animal Crossing, but now you have a major reason to do them.
I don't know where Animal Crossing can go from here, but that's not something to worry about right now. We just need to enjoy New Leaf for what it is. A wonderful revamp that once again proves why Nintendo has a knack for keeping established brands alive and well for years on end.