Animal Crossing: New Leaf – My First Week

Last Saturday, I purchased the latest in the Animal Crossing series on the Nintendo 3DS. Having played the popular DS game Animal Crossing: Wild World, my expectations were high, and luckily Nintendo have pulled enough out of the bag to seduce back the AC community to this new beginning.

My first impressions as I moved into my new town (named Dan Town, screw innovation!), the first feeling was of nostalgia almost, the feelings I had back at the start of Wild World flooding into my mind. The memories of being plunged into an unknown town, left to do whatever I want without much guidance, the gentle introduction into the game with a short tutorial working at Tom Nook’s store, the life bursting out of the town at every seam. New Leaf goes further by declaring you the mayor as soon as you step off the train!

animal_crossing_3The first few hours will be spent settling in, being shown all the things to do, it’s a lot more expansive than Wild World’s tutorial. All the AC staples are there, from Nook building you a new house, selling your fruit and shells to the shop for profit, picking up tools from the shop to start catching bugs and fish. But New Leaf goes further: now you can choose exactly where to build your house and when you want to expand it (no more monopoly for you, Nook!) by talking to Nook, who is now an estate agent. There’s a new shop in town called Re-Tail that allows you to sell all your items, but it also acts as a flea market for you and other villagers to put your stuff for sale at whatever price you want.

animal_crossing_8I like being the mayor of my own town now, as it gives a much higher level of freedom to the gameplay. You can plan Public Works Projects (basically stuff to put in your town, like bridges, benches, stuff like that), then you and your villagers donate to Lloid the gyroid, who will station himself at the site you choose for the works (well, he’s standing at the site of my new bridge at least), to reach the required amount of funds. It’s nice that the townsfolk help out, but boy are they slow! I’ve donated pretty much everything so far, perhaps they’ll put their hands in their wallets later on. The cheapskates.

animal_crossing_7The one thing that really annoys me is that I’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of presents flying past the sky like this, but do I have a slingshot? Heck do I! The shop is still pretty small and such it only has two tools a day, but they’ve always been fishing rods and bug nets, it seems. Oh well, it seems easier to shoot the out of the sky now though, as they are closer to the ground, and the 3D effect will help people judge how far it really is away.

animal_crossing_2The sheer amount of Nintendo-related stuff in this game is quite huge. In the new Nookling Junction store (basically Nook’s Cranny, but run by the Nookling twins), they sell fortune cookies, and showing Timmy or Tommy the fortune inside may net you a prize; it seems to always be a Nintendo item, such as the Metroid gear I’m wearing here. This is the interior of the museum, in the bug section. I enjoy looking at all my progress capturing these little critters, although I’m not very far yet. I have noticed Blathers is less, well, blathery, which may be good news to some, but others like me sorta enjoyed his ramblings, as it added a degree of character to the game. However, you can donate multiple things at the same time now so this is a welcome addition for me.

animal_crossing_4The inside of my house is also beginning to look very ‘Nintendo’ too, as the wall, floor and ‘?’ Block were all fortune cookie prizes. The rainbow screen was a free downloadable item, just talk to Pelly or Phyllis at the post office and ask for a gift. Little touches like the light filtering into the room from the window are pretty cool, as is the ability to put stuff on the wall now (I have a rabdom diploma on the wall, but it’s not in view here).

animal_crossing_9A week into the game, I have only just started to unlock new stores along Main Street, an area accessed at the top of the main town. Today a flower shop opened near Nookling Junction, and I really look forward to seeing what the other stores will look like, such as the abandoned house at the left of the picture here. One major addition to the game is Tortimer Island. As he is no longer the mayor, he is in charge of an island where it is always summer. You can take the boat there after a few days (and along the road Kapp’n will sing some fairly humorous sea shanties along the way), and on this island you can challenge your friends to minigames such as bug catching, matching buried items, gardening, pretty much everything. Or, if you’re like me, you can play by yourself. You can also catch bugs, fish etc as normal and take them back to the main town, including some rare fruits that grow in the resort area and non-native fruits growing in the activity area.

animal_crossing_10Diving into the sea is a new activity, although I only got the wet suit yesterday (purchased at the resort shop for 50 Tortimer medals, which you win in the minigames), so I haven’t been able to do it much. It’s nice that new ideas are still making the way into the game, however, and I look forward to diving for even more stuff to donate to the museum or sell. the game is similar enough to the older games to appeal to the experienced crowds, but fresh enough to give all players, new and old, a new experience. Tiny features expand on older ideas, such as sneaking while holding the net, which is actually needed to catch some bugs.

animal_crossing_12In short, there’s too much to write about in one review, so I’ve decided to do a couple more, perhaps I will document my journey through the game and write about new features as they come up. It’s feature packed, it’s awesome, you need this game, go get it now! And have fun with your social life’s replacement.