GET YOUR GAME ON: ‘Animal Crossing’ turns over ‘New Leaf’

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First Posted: 6/10/2013

Who would have thought a game that consists of busy work would be so damn enjoyable?

In 2001, Nintendo released “Animal Crossing” on the GameCube and accomplished just that. “AC” is a social simulation game where you are a human in a village of anthropomorphic animals. In this game, you have to do several tasks to make your villagers happy and attract more people to your town. All of the tasks are silly, but they net you all sorts of collectibles that you can use to customize your house.

This game was incredibly innovative in 2001; it had bright colors, catchy music, cute characters, and, most importantly, a gameplay system that acted like a real calendar. “AC” used the console’s internal clock to keep track of the time of day and the seasons, and it changed the game based on when you played – the catch was the game continued when you were not playing. When you log back in, the town is usually different and the grass has grown, and people ask where you have been. There are also several collectibles that you can only get during specific times of the year, on certain days, or even on your birthday. This was the first game that I have ever seen to use a system like that, and it became one of the most memorable games of the generation.

It has been a while since there has been a new “AC” game, so I have been looking forward to “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” for the Nintendo 3DS. In this edition, you actually step into the role of the mayor; now you can develop the town and your life in any way you want. There is an astounding amount of things to do in this game; you could play it for years.

Aside from the fun tasks like fishing, paintings, fossil hunting, and bug collecting from the older games, “New Leaf” offers a wealth of new things to occupy your time. All the activities are pretty much a to-do list, running errands for townsfolk, decorating your town and house, and collecting things, but it is always entertaining because the game is so charming and a relaxing way to unwind. That is the reason why people don’t like the game, because it is just busy work, but the point of the game is to relax; the game is totally stress free. It’s about making your house, town, and outfits nice and making friends with silly talking animals.

For the first time in an “AC” game, “New Leaf” lets you be the mayor. Now you don’t just decorate your house; you can spruce up the whole town, deciding where the houses are and even what type of business and services will be available for your citizens. Another cool feature is the ability to customize your furniture. By taking it to the resell shop, this can ensure your house is unlike any other.

Another great feature is the night owl mode, where all of your shops stay open extra late; this makes it easier to play later in the evening without having to adjust your console’s clock. Just like the original, the best way to play this game is in 15 to 20 minute blocks. However, with its charming and addictive gameplay, you will end up playing it more in each sitting because there is so much to do. If you want to invest the time, you can play this game for hundreds of hours and you are still going to find fun things to do. This is one of the most charming and immersive game worlds I have experienced; it is a blast to explore everything and to find all of the collectibles, especially the Nintendo collectibles, such as Triforces and Mario karts and shells.

One of the best additions is the multiplayer; you have always been able to visit other towns on your memory card, but now you can visit your friends’ towns online or locally. In the old game, this became annoying because your friends could cut down your trees, dig up your flowers, and wreck your town, but now you can set up a dream version of your town where people can visit and run wild and it doesn’t actually wreck your town. In addition to the online mode, the game also makes use of the Nintendo Streetpass; you can visit the town of people that you pass on the street that have the game.

Overall, I loved my time with the “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” and look forward to further developing my town and completing all of the public works and special town events. The graphics are bright and gorgeous, the music and sounds are very charming, and the gameplay is just as addictive as ever. If you are looking for a fun and relaxing game to play on the go, then “New Leaf” is the perfect game for you. If you are looking for something action-packed, you aren’t going to find it here. “New Leaf” is a great addition to the “Animal Crossing” series and is a must-play for fans of the series. Now would be a good time to say goodbye to your friends and family.

-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at