Up Up Down Down: Animal Crossing: New Leaf
There's something inherently charming about Animal Crossing. Sure, it may not offer the deepest gameplay as far as sims go, but it's so damn endearing! If you've ever owned a Nintendo platform since the days of the GameCube, there's no doubt that you've heard of the series. Heck, it's likely that you've played an entry or two. If so, you know just how addictive these games can be despite their simple mechanics and somewhat limited features. Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the 3DS is right in line with its predecessors, which is to say it's fun albeit predictable.
This time on Up Up Down Down, we're going to take a look at what there is to love about New Leaf, as well as what may make you not want to play for long stretches of time.
Up Up: More of that same addictive gameplay
While the first initial hour of any Animal Crossing game may be a drag, it's the hours following that introductory period that are the most addictive. You get to meet characters for the first time, learn how to make money, and begin paying off your house. It's fun, and though these types of tasks could be utterly mundane in our real lives, they're absolutely mesmerizing in New Leaf. Filling the museum with bugs and fossils, selling items to earn precious bells (the game's currency), participating in fishing tournaments, and helping the townsfolk are truly enjoyable activities that you can sink plenty of time into.
Down Down: It's still more of the same
Unfortunately, if you've played an Animal Crossing game before, a lot of these tasks will be immediately familiar. That's not a bad thing granted you haven't played an entry in the series over the course of the last year or so. If you have, however, you're likely to grow bored with the different things there are to do in New Leaf fairly quickly. Clearly, newcomers to the series have the most to gain here, and while the game is really fun overall, veterans will grow weary of the lack of evolution a lot sooner.
Up Up: Being mayor comes with some cool new town management systems
Thankfully, New Leaf is host to a couple of new objectives. This time around, you're not just a citizen in an animal-filled town; you're the freakin' mayor! That means you get to set some rules and engage in fun new activities. You can set ordinances to give your town structure, such as the Night Owl Ordinance, which entails stores being open much later and characters wandering about outside their homes past midnight. You can also set up public works projects and build benches, lamp posts, and other landmarks that can be funded with donations from your citizens (though you can cover the bill yourself if you're impatient).
Down Down: New gameplay is only novel for a little while
Ultimately, the ordinances and public works projects will only keep you busy for so long. Setting a law or building a new bridge are pretty much in line with the rest of the game's mechanics. These things aren't all that different even though they do technically give you new priorities to take care of. Ordinances just mean you can open stores earlier or close them later, beautify your town, or enjoy a wealthy environment. Meanwhile, public works projects let you spend your bells on something other than your mortgage, furnishing needs, and clothes.
Up Up: You can visit an island!
One of the coolest new features in New Leaf is the ability to visit an island resort. This locale isn't exactly bursting with things to do, and the island itself is fairly similar to your town, but it's still nice to get a slight change of scenery. You can play hide-and-seek, collect new fruit to plant in your town, and engage in other fun distractions. It's also worth noting that the sailor who takes you to the island sings some of the most wonderfully absurd songs ever heard in a game. Seriously, those lyrics are outrageous.
Down Down: Those animals don't know when to shut up
While I love hearing that sailor dude sing his sea songs, a lot of the other animals just ramble on and on. At first, it's kind of funny; but when they keep repeating the same things every single time you encounter them, it quickly becomes a pain in the ass. This is mostly true regarding major characters like the head of the Happy Home Academy and the owl who curates the museum, but other characters tend to talk incessantly, as well. Just shut up already, you adorable, furry bastards!
Left Right Left Right: Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a charming sim ideal for short burst play
Whether you've played an Animal Crossing game before or not, if you dig these types of experiences, you're bound to have a blast with New Leaf. Ideally, it's perfect for playing in short bursts, and if you play the game that way, you'll get the most of it. It's fun visiting your town for an hour or so one day at a time or every couple of days. This isn't the type of game you can play all day for weeks on end, though. The new content is worthwhile, though it gets old after a bit, and the tasks themselves can grow tiring even if they are pretty entertaining overall.
If you want an inviting sim that's simple to play and easy to get into, New Leaf on the 3DS is a fine option. Its handheld design makes it especially appealing. It's also delightfully endearing, and it's sure to put a goofy grin on your face quite often.
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