Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a welcome return to the world of unabashed materialism that should entice veterans and novices alike.

There's a party in Pancako, and everyone's invited. In the southeast corner of the city, where the river cascades to the ocean below, the citizens gather in joyous revelry. Flip wears his finest clothes for the occasion--a blue sweater vest with no pants--while Isabella commands the rapt attention of the eager townsfolk. For the past week, the city has been taking donations for a public works project that promises to elevate Pancako from a forgettable stop along a winding train route to a burgeoning metropolis replete with eye-catching architecture and bountiful entertainment. After the mayor gives a brief speech, the animals cheer, streamers fly into the air, and the commemoration is complete for this glorious addition to the city: a yellow bench.

You're probably all wondering why I called you here.

In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, there is no success too small to celebrate. The townsfolk happily congregate whenever a lamppost or scarecrow is erected, never showing a hint of irony as they welcome a new landmark into their town. Letters flood your mailbox, pouring out prodigious thanks for the common pear or ordinary seashell you sent to your anthropomorphic neighbors. And that happiness isn't limited to your friendly animal companions, either. Their unrestrained yearning for material goods and basic relationships is infectious. Just try to withhold a smile when you snag an endangered coelacanth from the icy depths or receive a silver fishing rod from Celeste. New Leaf transcends its simplistic nature to offer a deceptively absorbing and rewarding experience.

Free from the shackles of ordinary home life, you set off to a far-away town in search of a new beginning. Relaxation is action in New Leaf. You walk through the bustling hamlet, visiting stores and talking to citizens as you unwind from the daily grind. When you first fire up the game, you must name the town and choose the general layout, and you continue making important decisions when you settle in at your own address. Through mistaken identity, you're granted mayoral status, and the citizens willingly prop you up to be their leader as they follow your every utterance. No mere puppet, you shape the town as you see fit. Ordinances shift the behavior of the populace, demanding that stores adjust their hours to meet your needs or that everyone sprout a green thumb to keep the town looking beautiful. Only one ordinance can be accepted at a time, so choose wisely; the cost to shift is high enough to discourage indecisiveness.

Laws are but one way in which your actions impact the town. Not only are you in charge of the landscaping, but as mayor, you decide which public works projects to construct. These include signs, fences, and fire hydrants, along with larger structures such as bridges and fountains. Build enough, and more options are open to you. Once you complete a few yellow benches, for instance, you can start churning out metal benches, if you so desire, and certain store owners even request renovations. The museum curator, Blathers, may plead for a second story to be added on to the museum, but only if you've proven that you're willing to pour money into the city.

The picture of contentment.

In theory, these projects are supposed to be citywide endeavors. Once you decide where to erect these structures, a gyroid is placed there, asking for donations from the citizenry. Unfortunately you are forced to bear the brunt of the cost. The cheap animals who populate the town may throw a few hundred bells into the pool, but you have to fork over tens (and sometimes hundreds) of thousands of bells to make up the difference. It's hard, costly work being a mayor. And even after you pour more than a million bells into improvement, the animals still demand more. When you visit your town secretary, Isabella, she tells you what people are saying behind your back. More likely than not, they want more public works projects, even though they refuse to part with their precious bells to help out. If only there were a way to tax these lazy beggars.

As a result, much of your time New Leaf is spent trying to earn more money to meet your construction needs. Digging fossils from the ground and striking rocks to earn bells and precious gems is an easy way to make a quick buck, but you're going to have to put on your hunting hat if you want to reap serious rewards. Rare fish and bugs are worth a pretty penny, so your fishing rod and butterfly net are the quickest ways to move from rags to riches. You can clean out nearby rivers and oceans if you want, and shake trees to find creepy crawlies that have hidden away, but if you want to earn the most bells, you need to travel to an island paradise.

Day and night, Kapp'n sits at the dock, waiting to ferry you to the island. For 1,000 bells, he not only transports you, but serenades you as well. His rhyming songs are often ludicrous, with the delightful imagery of iced tea being used to cool hot feet and other such goofiness, which makes the long voyage delightful. Once on shore, you can roam the beach in search of pricey fish (including sharks!), or nab terrifying insects resting in the trees. If you have entomophobia, watch out, because some of those beetles are downright nasty looking. But they do fetch a good price, so you're likely to earn more than 100K in just a short trip to this vacation resort.

Earning money isn't the only reason to trek across the ocean. A variety of minigames set you loose in undeveloped enclosures in search of precious goods. You may have to unearth specific fossils or reel in exotic fish, all while a clock ticks down to the end of this excursion. Your reward? Medals. This is the only currency accepted on the island. New items are on sale every day in the store, and you can nab yourself nautical shirts and flip-flops, a shiny silver axe, or even a wetsuit. Scuba gear lets you explore the shallow waters near shore. Diving for sea anemone is a neat idea, but you move so sluggishly underwater that there's not much fun in the hunt. Plus, reselling most of these creatures nets only a small profit, so there's little reason to voyage back to the sea once your museum is stocked.

You wouldn't want to ruin your style by taking off your glasses before diving.

Sadly, many of the activities lose their appeal before long. New Leaf's date and time is tied to your system's clock, and the available fish and insects change with the seasons. Catching a surgeonfish or red snapper the first dozen times may be exciting, but after you drag hundreds of these things from the briny depths, it grows tiresome. The thrill of the catch is replaced by the drudgery of a job; you cast your line only to pay for the costs of town improvement. Because of this, New Leaf is best in short bursts. You can visit all the stores and dig up all the fossils in less than 20 minutes, so you have to wait until another day rolls around before anything new happens. Fiddling with the clock on your 3DS is one way to ensure new things happen, or just create your own entertainment.

Thankfully, for those with a creative mindset, there are ways to have a good time while waiting for the months to go by. Write letters peppered with threats or vulgarity if you choose, or maybe filled with pangs of unrequited love if you're in that kind of mood. Dress in the most outrageous fashion you can find. Moldy dress, balloon hat, and cyborg goggles? Why not? You're the mayor, after all. Complain daily that Peaches speaks rudely, or encircle Groucho's home with fire hydrants. See how many different kinds of toilets you can fit into your attic, or turn your basement into a torture chamber and see how your neighbors react. New Leaf lets you go crazy if you so desire, so there is plenty of fun on offer if you're the type who likes messing with virtual animals.

Now you can modify the exterior of your home!

Still, no matter how clever you are, there are small annoyances you have to endure. The animals in New Leaf like to talk a lot, and have no problem repeating themselves. So be prepared to listen to the same spiel about insects from Blathers whenever you go to the museum, or to hear Isabella joke about washing Peaches' mouth out with soap when you issue a complaint. It's tiresome cycling through the same lines over and over again, which makes communicating with others less appealing. Eventually, you may become a recluse because of the repetitive dialogue, fishing by the light of the moon without ever so much as acknowledging others. It's a dark prospect, but one that seems ideal after listening to Lloyd's pointless instructions for borrowing tools for the umpteenth time.

The user interface is still incredibly clunky, something that has been true in every version of Animal Crossing. New Leaf is a game about collecting, and yet you have room in your pockets for only 16 items at a time. Considering that tools take up spots and you should carry a net, slingshot, fishing rod, and shovel with you lest a rare creature or event surfaces, you're down to just 12 spots. This ridiculous restriction means you have to frequently return to your home and to stores, limiting how much time you can spend exploring your city. Furthermore, transferring items is a pain. You can't just select all of the items in your inventory at once. Instead, you must tap (or drag) each item individually, which is a silly requirement that makes trips to the boutiques or lockers more tedious than they need to be.

Despite these issues, New Leaf is still an enjoyable diversion, and one that packs enough new content to entice experienced Animal Crossing players. Assuming the role of mayor adds lots of possibilities, and there are buildings to fund and new proprietors to meet as well. Kicks runs, well, Kicks, a shoe store that offers even more flexibility in how you dress. Leif is in charge of the garden shop, and even plucks weeds if you're lax in your gardening duties. Talk to Cyrus if you want to modify your furniture, or visit Club LOL if you want some laughs. Stop by on Saturday night to be serenaded by the famous K.K. Slider. None of these elements are outstanding on their own, but there are enough additions and surprises in New Leaf to keep even Animal Crossing veterans hooked.

Oh, nothing much. Just holding a butterfly net while an anthropomorphic duck looks on.

And if you're ever lonely, New Leaf can be played with real-life friends along with your virtual companions. Invite a few buddies into your town and watch in horror while they buy all the furniture the Nook brothers are selling, or write notes trying to convince your animals to move to their town. They'll shake your trees to bring different kinds of fruit abroad, and possibly chip in a bell or two to the gyroid to help build another lamppost. Multiplayer adds to the charming nature of New Leaf. Part of the fun of building your humble town into a tourist destination is showing off your hard work. And you don't even have to interact directly with another person to reap benefits. By StreetPassing with anyone, you can see how they've decorated their abode. Plus, if any piece of furniture catches your fancy, you can purchase it for an inflated price.

New Leaf is a very strange game with an appeal that seems nonexistent to outsiders. The moment-to-moment activities are so banal that it's not readily apparent just how engrossing the small-town life can be. However, the more you play, the more invested you become in the well-being of your city, and the more exciting each small success becomes. When you receive perfect town status, it's hard to contain your joy, because you've had to work long and hard to earn that recognition. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is an expected sequel that doesn't stray far from its predecessors. Still, the happiness of your citizens is so intoxicating that it's easy to be sucked into this portable adventure as you live out your dreams as an all-powerful mayor.

The Good
Interesting mayoral powers
Quirky cast of characters
Tons of different customization options
Lots of new additions
The Bad
Endlessly repeating dialogue
Clumsy user interface
8
Great
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Discussion

313 comments
Vampfox
Vampfox

 This game is certainly a lot better then the Last of Us.

DiverseGamer
DiverseGamer

Having bought a 3DS specifically for this game, I can gladly say that it was worth the wait. Very addictive. Already put in 170 hours. 9 Chocolate turtles out of 10.

RAD_TRBO
RAD_TRBO

Been a huge fan of AC since the first game. That was back when it had limited options and still I played daily! But, I totally understand the rating. To some, like me, its an addicting masterpiece. To others, a childish POS. I am excited to get it tomorrow!

metalkitten
metalkitten

i bought this as my first try on the series, i played for over a week and i can only say that this game is not for all - not for me anyway...

it feels childish and i dont see the appeal - i do love sims 3 and style savvy series who are simulator games but this one... it better get better fast cause im bored to Death and feel its work to play

since theres so many comments about the last of us i guess i should just play that one instead since i bought it Before this game but havent started it yet

downnice95
downnice95

I love this game but this is not as good as the last of us! I 

bhagenbeek
bhagenbeek

This games is way better than the reviewer says!

dariusq
dariusq

By far the best AC to date. Still not for everyone though. 8/10 is pretty accurate.

Coldpain
Coldpain

This game, along with all others in the series will put a permanent smile on your face (while playing, of course). Go get happy. Get Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

dadkwashere
dadkwashere

Gave this game a 1.0 due to lack of bestiality. Ive been waiting for this feature since...2002!

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

In other news, this game looks swell. I've been trying to see which title in this series would be best for me to start on, and this game is a strong candidate.

sknight175216
sknight175216

Don't be complaining about review scores for games you haven't even played.

GrayF0X786
GrayF0X786

so this game will give me the same experience i had with The Last of Us?

M3o5nster
M3o5nster

Wait a minute, so the same person who gave The Last of Us an 8.0, gave this game an 8.0 as well?

Someone needs to have their reviewing privileges revoked.

bbkkristian
bbkkristian

Should I get this or Ni No Kuni...? :\

Jack54Blobulus
Jack54Blobulus

I think this review is a step on the right track, but you are nowhere near your former glory Gamespot. You guys are all going to say "you were just freaking out" or something like that, but honestly I think that the Zelda: SS review was what stapled them as poor reviewers to me. Some of your arguements in this review make no sense at all like the poor user interface. The interface was so much easier to use han the other games of Ac, and all games in general that I don't know how you would ever like any other interface. Also, you can't deduct a point for only having a couple thousand different things they can say. That's bullcrap. Other than that, I think this review was good. Gladd to see you trying to claw at your former glory.

tiyoy_araguy
tiyoy_araguy

I did not come along to any Animal Crossing games... Is it worth buying even if I am new to the series? Thinking...

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

"You can visit all the stores and dig up all the fossils in less than 20 minutes, so you have to wait until another day rolls around before anything new happens"

Sure if you ignore the fact that in you get QUESTS from the Animals, but since you don't like to talk to them you probably don't know this.. bad reviewer is bad.

nickcten
nickcten

this game is great!! however, the lame broke citizens don't help with any of the projects I plan haha. all they do is water flowers -_-''

on the other hand, its no problem because I cash in 300,000 bells from my beetle farm

Ovirew
Ovirew

It sounds like the game is still really similar to the other ones, and still has many of the same problems those games did.

I think if this game was released for free with all 3DS systems, it would have been more impressive - Nintendo could have used Animal Crossing as a 'social network' for the 3DS, and added some style to a concept most gamers cringe at.

Otherwise, it would have been nice if the 'mayor' aspects of this game played a greater role.  Instead, it sounds like you still spend all of your time digging fossils, netting bugs, fishing up fish and shaking trees for insects.  It's sad that in over a decade, Nintendo still hasn't found much else for people to do in Animal Crossing to keep themselves entertained.

Starfleet86
Starfleet86

The game is definitely cute, but I don't think I'm going to by a 3DS just for this.

douchiedude
douchiedude

Feel free to add me if you have this game! 5069 - 3928 - 3934

disneyskate
disneyskate

Calling it childish makes you sound like a tool. Most M rated games are quite childish themselves.

wolftrail123
wolftrail123

@downnice95 Can you even compare the two? I'm not sure they could be more different if they tried... XD

joke_man
joke_man

@GrayF0X786 

Absolutely!  Animal Crossing is the 3DS's version of a 3rd person survival drama about your story through a post-apocalyptic world to save your pseudo-daughter.  Make no mistake, it's not about day-to-day tasks of managing a town and interacting will villagers, etc., it's about stalking through environments in order to kill your pray and a story of survival. 

grin89
grin89

@M3o5nster i no longer look at review of games as a competitive scoring but as to rather the game is enjoyable towards the pricing of the game. pretty sure that this game is just a time passer where as last of us is a story just like a book or movie that you wont forget for some time.

Coldpain
Coldpain

@Jack54Blobulus This.

They just need to take out points all together because the system has become heavily flawed due to user error. Lol.

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

@Vidpci the cycnism is what keeps me here, so many reviewers will tell you all the good things about a game, but skip out on the flaws, I want to know what kind of bugs and flaws a game has before I buy it cause sometimes a game can look really good and then turn out to have gamebreaking issues. My friend bought new vegas on release day and couldn't really play it for the first few weeks because of gamebreaking bugs that would stop him from loading saves, or he would have to wear a certain cowboy hat to enter the strip or the game would freeze if he didn't etc.

Jack54Blobulus
Jack54Blobulus

@tiyoy_araguy I have played 2 of the other 3 titles and this one is a HUGe step in the right direction. It is tons more varied of things to do than in the others, and is a great place to start. I got it yesterday, and have already put in 12 or so hours. Be careful, it drains away your social life. :P

Aquat1cF1sh
Aquat1cF1sh

@tiyoy_araguy If you like Sims-like games then yeah. It's basically a massive collect-a-thon and you can basically do whatever whenever you want. It's not for everyone but if it clicks with you you'll love it to death.

joke_man
joke_man

@Ovirew 

I completely agree with your sentiments...I came into playing this game after months of playing Harvest Moon: New Beginning.  Doing tons of things, actually managing and creating a village, building a farm empire, starting a family, etc., compared to literally doing the exact same stuff you did with the original, plus very minor extras.  

Personally, New Leaf is a good game, but far from great and far from innovative or "new."  At least New Beginning was actually new.

Equinox9
Equinox9

@Starfleet86 I wouldn't either and I don't think many people would tbh. However, I did just buy one a couple weeks ago with Fire Emblem, Monster Hunter, Luigi's Mansion and DKCR which are all amazing. This'll definitely go nicely with my collection.

M3o5nster
M3o5nster

@grin89 With what you're saying, they shouldn't receive the same score. A simple time passer shouldn't be considered in the same league as one of the greatest ever made. The only pass I give is that the reviewer's scores seem to be very opinionated. It's just unfortunate he gets paid to give them...

joke_man
joke_man

@Equinox9 @Starfleet86 

What equinox said...Don't get a 3DS for Animal Crossing, but get it for the tons of other great games and then pick up Animal Crossing if you ever get through the others first.

M3o5nster
M3o5nster

@joke_man @M3o5nster @Aquat1cF1sh @grin89 I see you misunderstood as well... I'm criticizing the reviewer, not the review. If you saw the video where he explained his thoughts, then you'd realize why I have a problem with his scoring. I actually agree that Animal Crossing deserves an 8.0 (Great).

The problem lies in his reasoning for deducting points from The Last of Us. Like I said in my earlier post, reviews are based on opinion, although reviewers should possess a certain skill to discern the difference in quality across genres. His bio pretty much explains it all...

Nice Vincent avatar btw :)

joke_man
joke_man

@M3o5nster @Aquat1cF1sh @grin89 

The irony of your criticizing the review is poetic when your own "analysis" is a comparison of apples and oranges...The games can have completely different scores and yet remain completely different and be defined to earn their respective score in their genre given a variety of factors and critiques. 

M3o5nster
M3o5nster

@Aquat1cF1sh @grin89 You should probably read a bit more before you respond, instead of assuming. The guy ahead of me said it was a time passer, and I was responding to him. You're right about one thing though, those two games aren't comparable (on a level of maturity)... They should've used Kevin V. the well respected reviewer for Last of Us.

Aquat1cF1sh
Aquat1cF1sh

@M3o5nster @grin89 Simple time passer? I'm assuming you haven't played the game before... Also you can't compare the two, they are from two ~completely~ different genres.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf More Info

  • Released
    • 3DS
    Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the 3DS is the latest installment of the community-building franchise with new features and general improvements across the entire game, including new species of animal neighbors, new ways to customize your house and town, and a new main street shopping area and model home showcase.
    8.8
    Average User RatingOut of 296 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Animal Crossing: New Leaf
    Developed by:
    Nintendo
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genres:
    Simulation
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    Comic Mischief