Animal Crossing New Leaf is absolutely bursting with the lovable Nintendo charm that makes their first party titles so irresistible. It makes something as simplistic as selling your items at a shop, or fishing at the beach so enjoyable that you’ll find yourself doing it again and again and before you know it several hours have passed. After 10 hours of gameplay I felt that I had barely scratched the surface of the game world, there was so much more to build, buy and discover. The way Nintendo have structured this will have us enthralled for weeks in what is easily one the best titles to hit the 3DS since its release.
The premise of the game is so simple you might be fooled into thinking there isn’t much to it, but you’d be wrong. You are now the Mayor of your very own sickeningly adorable town and from now on will be in charge of upgrading your house, running errands for your citizens and making your town wealthier, cuter or whatever you wish to do. The range of choice and customization is a little overwhelming at first and you may spend some of your time getting used to all there is to do in your own little town. I found that each of my friend’s town had unique citizens and buildings with completely different personalities which makes visiting other towns an absolute joy where you can purchase clothes and equipment you couldn’t otherwise obtain in your own town.
The pace of the game is serviced to however you want to play… you could pay of your house loan so you can live in luxury or focus on placing policies in your town and constructing new bridges and buildings. Time specific events such as bug catching and fishing competitions add a dynamic sense of timing to your surroundings, making your town feel more genuine and lifelike despite its child-like appearance.
One of the best things about Animal Crossing is that there is almost always something to do and this is the very same quality that makes it so addictive and lovable. The way the citizens of your town reference previous events and how they’ve been talking with your online friends make your town feel unique and personal, adding a sense of belonging to the experience, which is crucial in a game so focused on your influence to drive your town forward.
Online play is implemented very well into your own experience as you can freely hop between your friend’s towns as well as allowing them access to yours. There isn't a lot of interaction to be had between different villagers though which is a bit of a missed opportunity and makes the multiplayer much less appealing than it actually could have been. The inability to perform certain actions during online play also hinders the experience as you’ll be itching to get back into trading and modifying your town. You can also visit a tropical island to participate in different mini-games online but you have to pay into this feature with in-game currency.
The 3D effect didn’t bring as much to the experience as I would have hoped, it certainly adds an extra sense of depth to your town and makes for some impressive effects but certainly isn’t essential for enjoying the game and I found it to perform a little slower with the slider all the way up. This doesn’t stop the visual style from being excellent and customizing your character with different clothes never ever gets old – especially when vintage Nintendo goodies are involved. The items for sale in your town’s many shops alter every 24 hours which gives you a good reason to check in every day that add to the game’s unique charm.
Animal Crossing New Leaf is quite a peculiar game, you can make five hours of progress without ever feeling you are achieving anything substantial. But the gameplay surrounding this progress is so enjoyable you won’t even care, and before you know it your cute little town will pull you back in for another round of bug catching and gardening.
There is very little to fault here as Animal Crossing doesn't set out to achieve anything groundbreaking, it just hopes you lose yourself in its cute and immersive world… and go to bed on time as almost all of the shops and buildings close after a certain time. Unless you are allergic to cute fluffy animals or don’t own a 3DS, you have no reason not to take up the position of Mayor in [insert your town name here].