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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Review: Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Developer: Nintendo/Monolith Soft
Publisher: Nintendo

If you've never played Animal Crossing, it can be a hard game to wrap your head around. On the surface, it appears that Animal Crossing is just about collecting bugs, going fishing and collecting fruit to pay off a home loan. That doesn’t sound like fun. That sounds like work.

Those who have actually played any of the games in the series will tell a different story. Animal Crossing games are insanely charming, entertaining, and relaxing. It's some of the most fun you'll have while chopping down trees.

However, the last entry in the series, City Folk, was disappointing. Nothing new was really added to the series, and the minor additions didn't really deepen Animal Crossing in general. Had the series had finally run out of new territory to conquer? And would New Leaf be any better?

The good news is that New Leaf is fantastic. The bad news is that you'll be playing it for the next year.
What makes New Leaf such a revelation is that it does something that the series should have done a long time ago: It makes you the mayor of your little town. With that power, you can enact ordinances, build new buildings and otherwise customize your city in a way you couldn't before. That alone would have been enough to recommend this game, but New Leaf goes beyond that.

What New Leaf really does is make Animal Crossing the game it always was supposed to be. See, the ideas that were introduced in previous games could never be implemented very well because of hardware limitations and other bugaboos that held it back. For example, in the original game, if you wanted to visit someone else's city, you had to physically have their memory card and insert it into your Gamecube to go there. On the DS version, if you opened up your city so others could view it, it would get trashed by griefers. Wild World introduced an extra Main Street area, but didn't let you change much about it.

In New Leaf, these limitations are fixed. What to let someone visit your town? Only friends can come in, reducing the chance that something awful will happen. Want to upload your city so other people can look through it without breaking anything? Sure, you can use the Dream Suite to do that. Want to add a second floor to your museum and open a new gift shop? Sure! Combined with the new customization options, that's what makes New Leaf one of the best games on the 3DS and the best Animal Crossing game in the series.

However, the final and most important thing to say about Animal Crossing: New Leaf, though, is that it's fun. It's just as simple as that. New Leaf is fun. If you like fun games, you should try it out. If you don't like fun, then I'm sorry for you. The rest of us will just be over here playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

Final Rating: A