Debt and desire on the 3DS.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Animal Crossing: New Leaf on 3DS, a quaint and peaceful town where the adorable pint-sized anthropomorphic animal characters we’ve come to know and love in the previous Animal Crossing games will greet you.
After you board the train and arrive at your final destination, you’re greeted by the local town animals who welcome you to your new home. Following a brief introduction and an exchange of pleasantries, the villagers decide they want to appoint you as their local mayor. A small ceremony takes place and we plant a small sapling in the middle of the town. You name your town and then You’ll be introduced to Tom Nook from Nook’s Home who will explain about housing and the various homes you can acquire with a massive investment of bells (the local currency). He’ll show you the wonderful homes and you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside at the prospect of what your new home will look like. To your surprise, you don’t receive a house filled with a wonderful assortments of furniture, but a tent. An empty tent. Although it does have a mail-box outside, where you can receive letters and presents from the local townfolk, and Isabelle will offer you a free lantern, so you don’t walk into anything when it’s dark.
Wandering around this peaceful environment, you’ll come across many characters in the Animal Crossing world. At first, they will just meet and greet you. But over time, they will require you to help them to collect various items, run errands, occasionally offer them advice about fashion or interior design, and sometimes recover lost items you’ve discovered in the environment. The characters of Animal Crossing New Leaf are simply adorable and have a huge amount of personality. Each of them have their very own quirky catchphrases, and are always available for conversation or require your help. The Animal Crossing New Leaf characters have a way of making you feel at home, offering welcome gifts and letters, or simply coming over to your house to help you settle in.
Once you’ve looked around and settled into your tent, it’s time to visit the town hall, where the delightful Isabelle will greet you. She will offer advice on living in the town and making the most of your life, and how you can receive customer satisfaction from the town folk. Isabelle has a desk behind her, where you can sit and discuss public work projects and ordinances. The public works projects allow you to build a selection of constructions within your town. This can be anything from a small yellow bench or bridge, to the Dream Suite. The projects in question cost a huge amount of bells, from 30,000 up, but they are worth investing in if you wish to expand your town environment. Once you’ve begun a public work project, you can’t start on another one unless you decide to stop the intial one or demolish it. Also, anyone who comes to your town can make a donation to the project, thus allowing you to progress a little bit quicker. As mayor, you can also have a say in what kind of town you want it to become for 20,000 bells. You can choose from a beautiful town, early-bird town, night-out town, and wealthy town and then it is set into law to be approved.
Exploring the town some more, you’ll find a notice board which informs you of events, festivals and shop sales happening throughout the day. Check this regularly because you’ll never know if a new sale or event is happening. Animal Crossing New Leaf is filled with trees waiting to be shaken, and believe me when I say I’ve had my fair share of bee-stings. My eyes were constantly swollen because I was continuously curious to find out if something special might fall from a shaken tree. The trees fill with fruit, ready for you to shake down and deposit into your bag. Occasionally you’ll find the odd 100 bell coins drop, various pieces of clothes or furniture and, if you’re unlucky, a bees nest. But maybe those swollen eyes are worth it as you can always take the honeycomb to the store and sell it.
In the beginning, you’ll spend a lot of time at the pink store ‘Re-Tail’, where you’re greeted by Reese, a fluffy pink lamb, who has a variety of items for sale and will buy unwanted items from you. At times, she’ll offer you a great deal and other times, she will come across as a bit tight. It very much depends on what items you have. She also deals with the flea-market, where you can put anything you want up for sale and others can purchase them.
The town itself is filled with small houses, butterflies fluttering through the flowers, and streams filled with fishies. If you’ve acquired a net, you can catch the butterflies and sell them or donate them to the Museum. Inside the Museum you find Blathers the Owl, who spends a great deal of time falling asleep. When you visit him, you can ask about any fossils you’ve discovered in the ground, or make a donation. The donated items go on display in the Museum for everyone to see. You can donate fish, fossils, butterflies or works of art.
Everything is quiet for the first few days or so in your new town. You may notice a slight breeze pass by and blow your hair, and the blue sky may occasionally have the odd balloon floating by with a present attached to it. If you’ve got a sling-shot, you can pop the balloon and you will receive something special. Various new establishments will eventually be built and these will keep you pleasantly entertained. There are absolutely loads of new things in this title, but I don’t want to completely spoil it in my review.
As you stroll around the town, you’ll notice two slopes that descend towards a beach with glistening crystal blue waters. Along these sandy shores, a small pier juts out with a mysterious box. Maybe, if you come back again sometime, a real turtle will have an explanation and a clue for you. Walking along the beach, listening to the waves, you’ll find the odd sea-shell or coral. It’s worth collecting everything, because you’ll need many bells to purchase your new home and this will all go towards it.
Walk over the stone bridge and across the railway line, and you’ll find main street. It’s a wonderful place filled with stores for you to investigate. In the post office you’ll be greeted by Pelly the Pelican, who will look after your mail, whether collecting or sending, and you can even ask about any presents you receive. This is also the place where you can deposit your bells to save up or repay your loan at the ATM machine. Next to the post office is Nook’s Homes and this is where you will meet Tom Nook to discuss upgrading your empty tent for 10,000 bells and choosing your new home. Housing, remodeling and expansion is a pricy business, so be expected to work very hard for them. Also don’t expect your new home to become available for you straight away, because you’ll have to wait until the next morning for your new abode. So get used to living in your empty tent and playing with the on and off switch on your lantern.
Once you’ve talked to the local townfolk, collected, recovered and retrieved various items, it’s time to go on a new adventure. Animal Crossing New Leaf allows you to leave the familiar town and explore a tropical island. You’ll be taken via boat to an island with a tikki-style building, surrounded by tropical palm trees and an ocean filled with wonderful sea creatures for you to collect. You can borrow a diver suit and other tools, and head to the water to explore. All the items you gather can be placed in a box and sold later on in your town for a hefty amount of bells. You can also go on a selection of island tours, which are incredibly fun mini-games where you’ll be rewarded in medals. These medals can be exchanged for items that you can’t purchase normally through the shop. You’ll spend a great deal of time swimming and diving in the ocean, and the experience is peaceful, escaping from the bizarre townfolk you left behind.
In Animal Crossing New Leaf, you’ll also discover the Dream Suite, after you’ve talked to a sleeping Isabelle. This requires a massive amount of bells to construct, but once built you can begin to dream walk, and this enables you to explore other towns. Once you’ve dozed off in your pyjamas, you can access your friends or random towns and cause complete chaos. No-one will see you in the town and you can more or less do anything without fear of being caught.
This latest installment to the Animal Crossing series brings a great deal of new and exciting features to enjoy, with a good balance of the original gameplay that we all know and love. It’s a seriously immersive experience and both fans and newcomers to the game will find it hard to tear themselves away. An investment of time is needed to gain the whole life simulation experience from the game, but it is a worthwhile investment to see new neighbours moving in and new buildings being built. There is always something else to do in the pursuit of the mighty bell – If you’re not collecting fish, netting butterflies or digging up fossils, then you’ll be shaking trees or diving in the ocean to gain those bells needed to make your new house into the home of your dreams.
There is so much to do and see in Animal Crossing New Leaf – far too much to list in this review – which is why GGUK will be running an Animal Crossing Diary on the site in coming weeks. Check back often to see just how many times I can get stung by bees and jellyfish. Meanwhile enjoy the cute Kapp’n Boat Song, which I captured during my progress in the game. It sticks in your brain. Animal Crossing New Leaf will arrive in stores for the 3DS on June 14th.
‘Wave goodbye to your life and say hello to Animal Crossing New Leaf – there’s a new mayor in town‘