It’s been a wonderful couple weeks in the happy town of Crawford. Animal Crossing: New Leaf has been good to me. So good, in fact, that’d I’d go so far as to say this is the best Animal Crossing I’ve ever played. Which now leaves me to convince you of the greatness that is Animal Crossing: New Leaf so all of you will also start playing.
First, let’s start with the town. Animal Crossing: New Leaf makes every player the mayor of his or her own town. Initially, this means jumping through a lot of hoops. You have to buy a house in town, as you first start with a tent. You need to get an ID photo taken for your card so you can travel. You have to get 100% approval rating from the citizens before you can start building public works or passing ordinances. Not to mention, main street won’t start developing until you start spending money and visiting the museum.
On the plus side, being the mayor means it feels like there’s a lot less pressure. Earning citizen approval is surprisingly simple—pulling weeds, fishing trash out of the river or ocean and paying Re-Tail to recycle it, talking to people and so on. The same can be said for home improvements. Nook doesn’t force anything on you anymore. You have to approach him to ask for more additions and, if you’d like, revamps that change the appearance of your home. The public works are a wonderful touch as well, as they’ve given me the opportunity to build an extra bridge, a bench, a fountain, a town clock, a decorative stone tablet, a campground for visiting animals and other lovely items. (I’m thinking of putting in a wind turbine, as Kabuki suggested, next.)
Not to mention, there are plenty of new ways to make your home your own. There are a lot of new furniture sets. Personally, I like the new balloon, fish and mermaid lines best. The exclusive Nintendo coins that come from using Play Coins to buy Fortune Cookies from the Nookling twins Tommy and Timmy are lovely as well. For the first time, players can also acquire items that can be hung on the wall as decorations.
The clothing is better as well. The Able sisters have made up, which means Sable, Mabel and Labelle are all working happily together under one roof, with Labelle handling accessories, Mabel selling clothing and helping players with Pro Designs, and Sable being her usual shy self. I highly recommend befriending her, as it will earn you not only the special sewing machine you will need to read or make QR codes for clothing, but eventually will get you mannequins you can place in your home and decorate with clothing and accessories.
But now, let me digress into Pro Design discussions. Oh, em, gee. The designer functions in Animal Crossing: New Leaf are the best the series has to offer. You can make shirts, dresses or hats, and the shirts and dresses can be sleeveless, have short sleeves or long sleeves. The best part is when you actually get to making your clothing. Forget palettes. They’re still there, but you don’t need to worry about them. Now, you can make your own palettes. Any clothing design is possible, because you choose which colors you want to use. You can zoom in or out, turn on a grid and copy or swap one design to other panels.
Of course, the Able Sisters tailors isn’t the only main street shop. Nook has his real estate empire and the Nook nephews run the store, which starts out as Nookling Junction and grows. Leif the sloth owns a garden center. Dr. Shrunk gets Club LOL built. Kicks has a shoe store, Harriet has a salon. Even Blathers’ museum can eventually have a shop built into it. Town is just hopping.
One of the most intriguing additions is the Dream Suite. It’s a shop run by Luna, a Tapir. Players who visit can upload a dream of their town to the internet for people to explore. Others can see how you’ve arranged things, who are your neighbors, visit your home and even run into your avatar, who will eerily say, “Hello, new best friend.” Shops can’t be visited, giving a message like, “Temporarily closed forever.” You can, however, get some of the person’s designs by visiting Wendell the walrus, a fellow dreamer.
StreetPass is also available, via the Happy Homes Showcase run by Isabelle’s brother Digby. I’m rather pleased with how it works, as you can collect up to 30 homes in your showcase, visit them at your leisure and even purchase most of the furniture and items you see in other people’s homes. If you don’t like a house, clear it out to make room for more.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf offers multiple means for people to enjoy playing games with others at the same time, and not via the internet or StreetPass. Friends can be invited over via either local wireless or the internet and, once they’re there, are free to do as they please. They can donate to your public works projects, visit villagers, shop or even just talk with you. Once someone has visited, actually, there’s a neat instant-messager function that can be unlocked. When visiting, the two people just have to set each other as “best friends.” Then, whenever both people are connected to the internet, even when playing alone, they can exchange messages via an instant messenger. It’s lovely.
Did I mention the island? Ah, the lovely island is a dream. If you want to make bells fast, early, just pass the Bell Boom ordinance to make shopkeepers pay you more for items, visit the island, fish like crazy and you’ll be a bell-ionaire within a week. It’s also a spot where exclusive island clothing, plants, accessories and furniture is sold for “medals”, which can be earned by playing mini-games with Tortimer for 5-6 minutes at a time. If you play enough mini-games, which involve gardening, fishing, digging or bug catching, you can even earn enough medal to buy a permit that lets you play on the island with people over the internet, and not just local wireless.
Wait, I’ve forgotten to talk about the Animal Crossing: New Leaf villagers, haven’t I? I swear, I get so caught up in this game sometimes.
The villagers are as lovely as ever, with two new personality types available, smug and big sister. Also, for the first time, it feels like they have their own lives. They’ll go to each others’ homes to visit. They’ll visit stores to shop. They’ll water plants, shake trees and even fish. As usual, they’ll stop the avatar in town to chat, asking for a favor, to visit your home or even suggest a new public works project. I was lucky enough to get one of the new characters, a big sister, gorilla named Rocket, as a neighbor when I first moved in. Since then, lovely people like Beardo, Penelope, Daisy, Kabuki and Peck have also arrived. I love every one of them! I’ve yet to have a hamster or deer move in, but expect them to be my new, ultimate favorite if they do. …Unless Lolly decides to show up. Lolly is the ultimate villager in my eyes.
Expect lots of extra visitors in Animal Crossing: New Leaf as well. I’ve seen Redd twice, selling artwork. Katrina’s paid a visit once. Gulliver’s washed up on shore twice as well. Phineas, now the badge-man, comes by every day or so to give me a new “badge” for my accomplishments in the game. (These can be seen on a player’s card.) Katie the kitten even stopped by, asking me to escort her to another town as she’s a big girl now, traveling to see lots of different villages. Both Joan and Saharah have come by as well, and people will be pleased to know Saharah only requires 3,000 bells for a random carpet or wallpaper. Gracie is supposed to be around as well, but I guess I’m not fashionable to merit a visit yet.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the ultimate Animal Crossing. There’s just so much to do. Sure, you can focus on the standard fishing and bug catching diversions, or make friends with townsfolk to gather a collection of photos, but you’ll only become king or queen of your town if you also take advantage of the island and it’s mini-games to ensure you bring in tons of bells. I don’t think this game will ever get old, and even though Nintendo’s downloadable game practices are still rather draconian, due to them being tied to a system, I’d even say this is a game to get as a download so you can have it on hand at all times.
Food for Thought
1. Isabelle will give you a free watering can when the game begins if you keep asking for “advice” in the town hall and meet her requests, which usually involves getting a seashell, showing off your shovel and grabbing 3 bugs or fish with your net or fishing pole.
2. The grass-depletion problem of Animal Crossing: City Folk appears to be gone. I’ve been running everywhere for a few weeks and not seen any less grass.
3. Your character will still get a tan if he or she fishes on the beach or at the island during the morning or early afternoon.
4. You can find 4 fossils, 1 pitfall and 1 ore every day. There is also one bell-rock each day. You can not plant money trees.
5. If you’d like to visit the town of Crawford in the Dream Suite, you can either enter my 4400-2024-2414 Dream Address, or search for me in Illinois in the United States.