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game reviews

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review

Moving can be tough.  There are new people, a new town, and new places to get used to.  All this has to be done alone, with no friends or family to guide your way.  This is your new welcome to your new life in a new town.  This is the scary, but exciting beginning to Animal Crossing: New Leaf.  This beginning is very similar to the previous titles of the series, but this one for The Nintendo 3DS is different.  This time, you are the mayor, and not just a normal citizen in the town.

Everyone knew that Animal Crossing: New Leaf would bring the same type of gameplay that its previous titles did.  Hours can be spent fishing, catching insects, talking to neighbors, and selling various items obtained throughout the day in order to pay off the house are just a few of the familiar activities that can be done on a daily basis in the game.  The question, however, is would this new title finally feel like a new and different game?  After all, Wild World and City Folk were almost the exact same as the original title with only a few minor changes.  Have no fear, however, because this time around, game developers have made enough major changes to the game in order for it to feel new and fresh just like the original title did when it came out over ten years ago.

From the very beginning, the player realizes that this time around things are different.  Much like the story we are familiar with, we enter the town, are greeted by a few residents, and are shown how things work.  Then, the game takes a different path.  We then attend a tree planting ceremony that celebrates the arrival of the new mayor, meaning us as the player.  From here on out, we get a lot more control of the game.  We get to have a say in the entire town by raising funds for public works projects.  We can have a bench placed here or a bridge there.  Whatever you choose, it is entirely up to you.  No more sitting back in a village that is the same every day and is destined to never change.

This is the first game of the series that really rewards you for your hard work.  In previous titles, you could expand the size of your house, but other than that, there were no other rewards for your actions besides the minor golden fishing rod or silver shovel.  You see a direct impact that you have on your town.  Once you complete a major project, your townspeople flock your mailbox with letters of approval and thanks.  Also, the more improve, the more options you get for even better things to improve.  Even the landmarks we are all so familiar with such as the town store and the museum can be improved once you develop a growing area.

One major addition to this new title in the series is the nearby island getaway that you can travel to twenty-four hours of the day.  Here, opportunities to find new things (and make some serious money) are all over the place.  The island is surrounded by rare fish and covered with exotic insects just waiting for you to attempt to catch.  These are a great find for any collection or can be sold for a hefty price back on the mainland.  On top of that, the island currency is in the form of medals, which you can obtain by playing various minigames on the island, something that has never been an option in the previous games.  Then, you can use your medals to buy items only available in the daily changing stock of the island itself.

Of course, New Leaf still requires the same creativity that the other titles did to really enjoy the game.  With the clock of the town traveling at the same speed as the real world clock, hours of the day go at a normal rate, along with the changing of the seasons that allow for new fish, insects, and events.  One still has plenty of options to fill the time.  With the greater selection of clothing items to choose from, anyone can play around with wearing whatever ridiculous outfit he wants.  Want to wear a balloon hat with a full armor suit?  Who cares?  It’s not like the other townspeople don’t look as ridiculous.  Complain that your next door neighbor is rude, sent love letters to everyone in town, or try desperately to get that obnoxious duck to change her ugly shirt.  It really does not matter, as there are no rules, and no matter what you do, the townspeople will more or less like you no matter what you say.

A major downfall of the game (that hasn’t improved at all since its first title) is the repetitive dialogue that you will hear on a daily basis.  Animal Crossing is a game that requires almost daily play to really be successful, and it is fun enough to make you want to play that often.  However, you will learn really quickly what each character in your town is going to say to you when you approach him.  The citizens in your town all have a set selection of conversations they will have with you depending on their given personality type.  What is worse than that is that the people that work in your town, such as Blathers at the museum, is going to give you the same spiel about finding fossils every time you speak to him.  That part gets repetitive really fast.

Even yet, the game is still enjoyable.  Enough changes have been made to make the old Animal Crossing fan feel as though the game is new enough that once again hours can be played collecting, selling, and decorating.  Not only that, but the 3DS software makes it easier than ever to connect with friends and have them pay a visit or even visit their towns to see what they have been up to.  Animal Crossing: New Leaf doesn’t stray too far from the previous titles, but maybe that is a good thing.  After all, that’s why those games were so fun to begin with.  The fact that nothing has been taken away, but many things have been added, make it feel as though you are playing an extended version of the game you love.  This time around, the happiness you see in your citizens as you make your own changes to the landscape is enough to keep you happy and wanting to play the game every single day.

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