Nintendo Turns Over A New Leaf With Animal Crossing: New Leaf

By Jared Scott on November 9, 2012, 5:49PM EDT

It's no secret that Nintendo hasn't been releasing that many first-party titles on the Nintendo 3DS recently. In fact, there are still unreleased games from E3 2010. It took roughly two years for Kid Icarus: Uprising to come out, any while it's not first-party, another big title that took a while was Kingdom Hearts 3D. Thankfully, it seems as though Nintendo are keen to turn over a new leaf and one such game to evidence this is Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

Animal Crossing is a unique and quirky series. Your character is thrown in the middle of a randomly generated town where he or she is the only human. The rest of the town is an assortment of personified animals ranging from a tortoise to a pelican. Ten minutes into the game, Tom Nook the tanookie welcomes you to your new residence, gives you a house, a one-time job, and then leaves you to do what you want.

But what is there to do? That's the quirk of Animal Crossing. There are a million things to do, but you have to discover them for yourself. After exploring, you may run into Blathers the owl who runs the museum, make a few friends at the beach, go on a bug hunt, or even buy furniture from the black market (I kid you not). Also, with this game, time runs according to the internal clock in your 3DS. If it's 3 A.M. in your living room, so is it in the game. The environment of Animal Crossing also changes according to seasons, and events coincide with holidays. In reality, Animal Crossing is a series meant to last, at minimum, an entire year.

So what's new in Animal Crossing: New Leaf? For starters, you are no longer a simple citizen of the town, but the mayor, meaning every aspect of the city is yours to customize. Items such as wells, landmarks, benches, and fountains can be purchased to spruce up the town. You will even decide what types of stores will open up and what their daily hours will be. In fact, Nintendo Direct has shown that there will be many more shops than the usual goods and clothing store. Some of these stores include a club, emporium, and a barbershop.

While the town can be customized to fit your needs, Nintendo has also added to the lengths of personal customization. Animal Crossing: New Leaf features the ability to fully customize yourself from your head down to your shoes and socks. For your home, furniture such as candles and lamps can be added to the walls. A recycling feature has been added so custom designs can be used to change your old furniture. Instead of being limited to changing the inside of your home, the outside can also be changed as well. In a recent announcement, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata revealed that Animal Crossing: New Leaf will be releasing free DLC. This will give more accessories and furniture for users to customize themselves and their town. While some of these changes may seem small at first, it's these small changes that allow you to truly make the game world yours.

Speaking from a graphical perspective, the game is beautiful. One of the complaints from Animal Crossing: City Folk was that the graphics were no better than the original installment. Complaints have been addressed because this game is pure eye-candy. Colours have more tones, character models are smooth, and you can actually see the insects on flowers and trees. Now people can finally do well on bug hunts.

One change veterans of the series are sure to notice is the music. It has a crisper, cleaner quality to it. From what has been shown, the rehashed "berrp"s and "boop"s of old have been replaced with much improved audio; yet the music still maintains its laid back tone. The piano in particular is both beautiful and relaxing. Some of the tracks show hints of influence from Professor Layton and the Curious Village with their use of stringed instruments.
There are some reoccurring elements long-time fans will be pleased to see. K K Slider is back. This time, though, he may have more than just an acoustic guitar. He sometimes comes as DJ K K who is equipped with dancing cacti, flashing lights, and turntables. Players can also get on a boat with Kapp'n the turtle and go to a private island. Though not much has been revealed on the island, it has your basics such as banana trees and a large hut.

Animal Crossing is a game known for its infinite replay value. Not everyone has the same experience, so when you explore your friend's town, you're literally visiting a new town. And, of course, there is always something new to do. Whether it's trading clothes with friends, expanding your home, completing museum exhibits, or just going for a swim, Animal Crossing: New Leaf promises a brand new experience both veterans of the series and new players will enjoy.

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