Hello, my name is Amy. And I am addicted to Animal Crossing.
Move aside Farmville, there’s a new sim game in town and it’s way more fun than having a life. Earlier this month, Animal Crossing: New Leaf finally saw its North American release, and it has been well received to say the least. With endless furniture and clothing options, mechanics honed for convenience, and customizability like never before, this is a must-have title for everyone. Yes, everyone. If you’ve never played an Animal Crossing game before, there is no better time to become a fan. But beware: this series has been known to cause serious cases of OCD, delusions of talking animals, and exaggeration of angler skills in real world situations. If you know what I’m talking about and have experienced the black hole of wonder that is Animal Crossing, you just might need an intervention after this one. And it is glorious. Now, let’s see if I can stop playing this game long enough to write a review, shall we?
The formula for this installment of the Animal Crossing is more or less the same as what we have seen in the past. The game begins on a train, where you make core decisions such as gender, town name, and this time, town layout. But upon exiting the station you are greeted not by Tom Nook, but by an adorable dog named Isabelle (along with the rest of the town), who claims that you are the town mayor for whom the villagers have been waiting. I’m not even going to go into all the creepy implications that stem from being forced to take leadership of a town of talking animals (LSD trip? Government conspiracy? Genetic experiment gone wrong?). Whatever the case may be, you are now in charge of these shirt-wearing forest-dwellers, and what you do next is up to you.
Being town mayor opens up all kinds of possibilities and provides the player with much more control over his or her town. You are given the option to pass “ordinances,” which have different effects, such as keeping shops open later or preventing weeds from growing. “Public works projects” make up the bulk of your work as mayor, and allow a level of town customizability that has never before been possible. These can range from a stop sign to a café at which you can get a part-time job, and all are optional and can be placed (almost) anywhere in the town.
Main Street provides a convenient new shopping method, as all the stores are lined up neatly in an area just past the train tracks. Cutting out the time it takes to run across town to complete errands or waiting for a city to load, this is one of the game’s nicer features. As the player progresses in the game, new shops are built and expanded, offering new entertainment just as the game starts to seem repetitive. Tom Nook has moved up in the world and now owns a real estate business, leaving retail to his underlings, Tommy and Timmy (who talk to themselves like they have been traumatized, by the way). So yeah, Tom Nook still tries to swindle you, but at least he doesn’t make you his indentured servant and by doing so gain a monopoly over the entire town.
QR codes are another fun feature, and they allow the user to download patterns from talented artists all over the world. It is a bit of a drag that you need to be holding said patterns in your 8-slot inventory in order for them to stay in the areas you’ve placed them, making it difficult if not impossible to build multiple paths without creating new characters in the game to use as pawns. I wish Nintendo would develop a patch for this, but considering it has been a part of the game’s mechanics throughout the entire series, I’m not getting my hopes up.
My only other complaint is that the wireless sometimes goes wonky. Nintendo has been behind the times when it comes to online play and internet connectivity, and this downfall is evident in ACNL. I occasionally experience hiccups–or complete disconnection–when playing with others, even in a local wireless setting. Can’t blame that one on spotty internet, Nintendo. Players have also had trouble connecting to the “Dream Suite,” an option unlocked later in the game that allows characters to travel to random towns all over the world. Overall, though, the best friend chat function, street pass, and wireless features are great, and for the first time, I find myself playing with others more often than by myself.
Even with its minor issues, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is easily the best game in the series, and is most definitely one of the best games for the 3DS system. It promises hours upon hours of fun and manages to tap into every human’s innate desire to collect things obsessively (even if you didn’t know you had it). So do
your addiction yourself a favor and go buy a 3DS and this game. And be sure to give me your friend code when you do.