Monday, June 17, 2013

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Rating: ★★★★★

I know I'm usually talking about music on this blog, but I have been playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf for just over a week now, and I have been so impressed by the game that I felt it was time to talk about my love for it here. (This is both a review and an explanation of the game. This post will also include a few spoilers, hints, and tips.)

I have played all three of the prior games in the Animal Crossing series that have been released in North America. When I was younger, my cousin gave her GameCube to me after she upgraded to the Nintendo Wii. Along with the system, she also gave me her copy of Animal Crossing, a game that I spent hours playing. It was a rather innovative game, in which I could freely interact with a village full of talking animals. Cute, right? I couldn't pull myself away from it!

Animal Crossing was amazing, but up until New Leaf, none of the other games were able to surpass the quality of the original game. Animal Crossing: Wild World for Nintendo DS was okay at best, but I was never particularly enthused by the game; I spent far less time playing it than I did the original game. As the Wii grew in popularity, we also saw the release of Animal Crossing: City Folk, which included everything the previous games offered, plus an added shopping center feature for players to visit. The shopping center was supposed to be the biggest marketing feature of the game, but all of the shops were either useless or had extremely overpriced items. The user controls of the game were also quite awkward, and it made for an odd playing experience.

Now, taking all of their experiences from the past games, developers have poured the best features from all of the games into Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which premiered on Sunday, June 9, 2013 in North American markets. I had been anxiously awaiting the game's release for months, and oddly enough, my birthday was just a few days before the release date. So, with money I received as birthday gifts, I was able to run right out on the morning of release to buy the game and revel in my purchase.

When I first put the game into my Nintendo 3DS and arrived in my town, which I gave the extremely modest and traditional name of 'Shabooty,' I was suddenly commanded to be the mayor. (In all of the past games, the mayor of a player's town had always been an elderly turtle named Tortimer, but have no fear: he still appears later in the game.) I ran off to the town hall, and was introduced by Isabelle, my bossy personal assistant. After a few words with her, I was off to complete my next task: to find a house.

Unsurprisingly, Tom Nook, the shady and infamous tanuki, was back to market houses in town. Now Nook resides in his own real estate and home improvement office, rather than the department store he used to run in previous games. I am very excited to say that this game actually does allow players to choose where their house should be built. Before, we we stuck choosing from four pre-built houses, which were usually built in the most awkward locations possible. In Shabooty, I was able to construct my house right on the cliff-side, near the town's river and the waterfall leading to the sea. It's truly beautiful.

Thanks to Nook's new store, Nook's Homes, the exterior of houses can now be modified as well. The siding, mailbox, door, roof color, sidewalk, fence... If you can name it, you can change it in New Leaf. Before, we were limited to the boring stone exterior, white picket fence, and wooden windows. Now, my house in Shabooty has orange stucco siding and white windows, with a green hedge surrounding it. This is one of my favorite changes to the game by far, because it allows players to use their creativity more than ever before.

While Tom Nook is busy pursuing a business in real estate and home improvement, Nook's Cranny has been passed down to his nephews, Timmy and Tommy, who have transformed the store into Nookling Junction. Just like the stores run by Nook in past games, Nookling Junction is a department store and can be upgraded to bigger and better stores, but I have yet to see one of these upgraded stores. According to different webpages and players, one of the upgraded Nookling stores also includes a GracieGrace franchise inside, which was included in Animal Crossing: City Folk as its own storefront in the shopping center. The items were so expensive that it was useless to even be included, but maybe the prices will be modified this time around.

In this game, Timmy and Tommy have competition in the retail market when a couple of cute alpacas, named Reese and Cyrus, open up a second-hand shop in the middle of town called Re-Tail. The shop offers more money than Nookling Junction when selling items, and allows residents to sell objects at a price they choose inside the store. The store can be considered a hybrid of a real-life Goodwill store and a flea market. 

The Able Sisters clothing and accessories shop, which is run by Mabel, Sable, and Labelle, returns yet again in this game, with the only noticeable change being that Labelle runs the accessories half of the shop, while the other two sisters manage the clothing half. A few other stores and businesses to make appearances in Animal Crossing: New Leaf are a gardening shop, the Shampoodle hair salon, a nightclub, and a fortune-telling shop. There are more, but I can't name all of them off the top of my head.

One of my favorite features of New Leaf is the introduction of Tortimer Island: a tropical resort started by Tortimer after his retirement from the mayor position. After paying a fee of one-thousand Bells, players can take a boat trip to Tortimer Island to play mini-games, swim, fish, and catch bugs. Personally, I quickly learned that the bugs that can be caught on Tortimer Island are worth thousands of Bells when sold to Re-Tail in Shabooty, especially certain types of butterflies and stag beetles. I usually take multiple trips each night to the resort just to fill my pockets with the valuable bugs to make as much money as possible. I've been able to pay off three mortgages and two public work projects by doing this, actually.

Public work projects are one of the two mayoral duties given to players during gameplay. These projects include the construction of stores, bridges, benches, lighthouses, and other public properties. Eventually, as players advance further in the game, Brewster the coffee-making bird arrives once again, and one of the public work projects proposed will be to build a coffee shop for him to do business in. Players may also take up part-time jobs in the café, acting as a little barista. Mayors may also build a police station, fountain, and shelter house, among many other things as public work projects.

In addition to these construction projects, mayors may also enact ordinances, for a fee of twenty-thousand Bells. Available ordinances can extend business hours for stores within a town, make a town grow more flowers and plants, or cause the economy of a town grow at expansive rates. In Shabooty, I've enacted the Bell Boom ordinance, because that specific action will cause objects to be worth many more Bells when selling them. I also tried the night-owl ordinance, which extended hours to all of Shabooty's stores well into the middle of the night, but it just wasn't as helpful as the Bell Boom is.

If you have a Nintendo 3DS and are looking for a great game to add to your library, I highly suggest to pick this game up soon. Or perhaps you don't own the Nintendo 3DS and you need a few good reasons to spend the money on the handheld console; Animal Crossing: New Leaf should easily be taken into consideration while making your decision on whether or not to purchase the system. Either way, players won't be disappointed. I have already put multiple hours into the game and I haven't even put a dent in all of the content available in it. The game carries a suggested retail price of only $34.99 and from my standpoint, that's a pretty good price to pay for quality entertainment.

1 comment

  1. I'll be buying a 3DS later this year (to play the new "Pokemon" games. Hehe...) but I also wanted other games to play.

    This game sounds really good! So I'll definitely be buying it in the near future (hopefully!)


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