Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a delightful game about the little things in life. What starts out as a simple trip to a town of your choosing, quickly spirals into a heartwarming journey about taking care of the world around you. From the onset of Animal Crossing: New Leaf you are the mayor and it’s your job to make sure your town is a prospering place that people want to live. Throughout the real-time days, weeks, months and potentially years you run your town, you'll shape its development by deciding upon which community projects get set into motion, what kinds of ordinances (if any) you’ll ordain, what kinds of shops might inhabit your main street shopping district and sooooo much more.
As I mentioned, time in Animal Crossing: New Leaf flows just as it does in the real world. This means that whatever time it is where you live (well, realistically whatever time your 3DS clock is set to) is what time it is in the game. Want to catch fireflies? You'll have to do that at night. Want to check out Main Street's shops and see what's for sale today? Better do it before they close! I feel that New Leaf, despite its real-time functionality and dependency, doesn't bully the player into having to play the game for a certain amount of time, or at anytime in particular, as there is always something new to do, and doing everything, all at once, all in any realistically healthy amount of time is an impossibility. New Leaf does, however, give the player certain incentives for playing at least a little bit every day. For example, in New Leaf you, as the mayor, have responsibilities. In general your responsibility is to ensure that your town is happy and healthy. This can include watering flowers, picking weeds, initiating and completing community projects, or even just talking to your town's citizens and seeing if they need anything.
Sometimes your town's citizens will ask you for a favor like catching a fish or finding a piece of fruit they'd like to eat. Or maybe they just want to hang out for a while and have you judge their decorating style. Sometimes they’ll even ask to hang out with you at a specific time wherein they’ll say something like, “I’m busy right now but I can hang out any time after 3:00pm.” At this point, if you agree to hang out with them, you’ll be prompted to input a time of your choosing after 3pm (again, in real-time) to meet up with them. There was a time I completely forgot that I told Roland I’d hang out with him at a specific time, and the next time I bumped into him while he was attempting to catch bugs, he informed me of how much it sucked being stood up as he waited for me outside my house. Needless to say I felt horrible and immediately went into my New Leaf home, pulled some paper out of my storage drawer and began writing him an apology letter in hopes of cheering him up. What consequences would there have been had I brushed his disappointment off and not apologized? I dunno; and that’s the beauty of New Leaf-- it feels like a living world where stuff just seems to happen! There are reactions to actions and consequences for negligence; yes you spend a good amount of time fishing, bug catching, fossil hunting, art collecting, gardening and taking items to the museum. However, at the heart of all of this is a system where what matters most is people (well, animals). Maybe Roland would have eventually told me that he was moving out of town? Maybe he’d get a bit cold towards me and our interactions would become awkward? All I know is that as mayor of Paradise ( that's what I named my town) it’s my goal to make everyone happy.
Another incredibly rewarding system within Animal Crossing: New Leaf is how the population of your town grows and evolves over time. Citizens move in, attempt to move out, shops offer different goods every day and eventually expand; heck some random animal I'd never seen before decided to camp at our campsite for a day or so before moving on. There're so many random things occurring on a regular basis it's eternally exciting and rewarding to check back often and see what's up.
Another example is that one day I hopped into New Leaf and there was a fortuneteller in town. It was yet another surprise that I hadn't seen coming. Long story short, my real-life day had come and gone out of nowhere as it were, and the next day when I turned on New Leaf I realized I had forgotten to visit the fortune teller! You see, things come and go in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, whether you’re there to experience them or not. Festivals, celebrations, events-- your citizens are seemingly enjoying life in your town whether you’re there or not. The amount of happenings, collectables, as well as things to see and do in New Leaf is awe-inspiring. Every time you hop into your town, whether you have 2 minutes or two hours to play, there's something to experience. Heck, some days I just hop in Paradise for a few minutes to buy once-a-day fortune cookies from Tommy and Timmy Nook, and that's all I do!
As the game evolves on its day to day basis, depending on what projects and endeavors you set into motion, New Leaf becomes even more varied and, dare I say, fulfilling. For example, as Mayor, when community projects in my town became available one of the first things I did was build a set of three bridges to make traversing Paradise a lot easier. There would be no more walking all the way around Paradise River to get from one side of the town to the other, because time is money and bridges are beautiful, right?! Later I decided I was going to chop down a bunch of trees so that I could replant them in a more aesthetically pleasing manner. After chopping a handful of trees down my axe broke, again proving to me how nothing in Animal Crossing: New Leaf is free. Axes in the flower shop were sold out because I'd bought the last one, and now I'd have to wait until tomorrow to see if if their stock was replenished daily. You see, even in Animal Crossing: New Leaf it's "live and learn".
For those planning to get social with New Leaf, you can connect to your friends' towns and then chat, explore, exchange items and even visit a nearby island to engage in fishing, bug catching, minigame tours and more. Another cool feature in New Leaf is the ability to turn Street Pass on, wherein two people with 3DS systems who pass each other in real life can exchange real-estate data and have their home show up in the others' town. From the real-estate showcase area (which is behind Main Street) you can visit Spot Pass homes and choose to order any of the furnishings they have on display. To top it all off, players can also build a Dream Suite for their town, which, when visited, allows them to randomly (or purposefully) enter a dream-version of other players' towns. It's a nice way to see what other people are doing in New Leaf, regardless of if the player has a lot of 3DS friends or not.
Ultimately, for a game with no definitive ending, where really you set your own goals, your own pace, and at times your own fun, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is an incredibly engaging game that I recommend to every 3DS owner. It's a game that feels like its growing and evolving inside your 3DS even when you’re not playing, and therefore every time you turn it on you can count on it putting a smile on your face. New Leaf is a game for people who enjoy the little things in life. It's a game for people who like collecting. It's a game that'll bring out your inner-child even if you're playing it as an adult. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a game that truly offers something for everyone and no 3DS owner should overlook it.
A love child born of 80's horror films, the 90's arcade scene, and today's underground pop culture; Matt resides in sunny/smoggy L.A., where he's been since graduating from Columbia College Chicago, with a degree in film, audio, and creative writing. When he's not producing content for Thirty & Nerdy, Matt enjoys traveling and adventuring with his fiancé, Gina.