Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review: Feels Like Home

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review: Feels Like HomeAnimal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo 3DS has been on the market now for about four weeks, and I am just now comfortable enough to review it. It is for this reason, and this reason alone that Animal Crossing is a beloved Nintendo franchise with millions of players, worldwide. You don’t play Animal Crossing; you live it.

If you’ve never played an Animal Crossing game, which first came to North America in 2002 for the Nintendo GameCube system, and has graced each subsequent Nintendo system since, it’s a simple life simulation.

The player moves to a new town (Randomly generated at the beginning of each game, and named by the player) and proceeds to buy a house (with a mortgage). The town is populated with animal denizens that welcome their new human neighbor with open arms. The player then works doing chores to make money to pay off the mortgage, which gets bigger with home expansions, and there are bugs and fish that can be caught and sold for high dollar (in game currency is called bells) amounts, and there are fossils to dig up and store in a museum and tons (and I mean TONS) of furniture items to collect to build the perfect home for your character. It goes on and on and never ends. You don’t play Animal Crossing; you live it.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review: Feels Like Home

In New Leaf, the developers have shaken things up a bit. The player (the first player to create the town) is made Mayor after a paperwork snafu. So as soon as you step off the train, you are running the town. You don’t have a house, or a viable way to make bells, but you have the most important job in the land. Up to three other human players can move into your town, but only the first player is named Mayor.

But this isn’t the only new thing. Instead of a separate shopping district, as in the Wii game Animal Crossing: City Folk, each town has a “main street.” This is where the stores and museum are located and in the beginning they are bare bones and most shops are closed. As the player begins to lead as mayor, the shops come in, and even expand, and Main Street becomes a bustling area in each town. What is nice is that the development of Main Street is variable, based on decisions made by the mayor. Certain public works trigger the creation of different shops and upgrades, so each mayor will have a different path to creating the best town in the world.

The public works, that the mayor can choose to build, are usually suggested by the animals living in town, based on needs, and sometimes just based on aesthetics. Others are civic needs, like additional bridges, streetlights, or even a lighthouse.

Each town also has an island, which is a feature that the GameCube original had. Players can take a boat across the sea to the island and find exotic fruit, take part in tours, which are essentially neat little mini-games, and fish and hunt to that players content.

Also new to New Leaf is the ability to swim and dive. Players can don a wetsuit and swim in the ocean, diving for rare creatures like pearl oysters, sea urchin, abalone and lobsters. These can be sold at the shops or donated to the museum.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review: Feels Like Home

Speaking of shops, there are now two in each town. The usual Nook’s, which is now solely ran by raccoon entrepreneur Tom Nook’s two nephews Timmy and Tommy, and the new Re-Tail, which a flea market of sorts ran by two alpacas. Re-tail has a daily item that they pay bonus bells for, and generally, I’ve found that they pay 20% more than Nooks on everything else.

Brewster’s Coffee House, which used to be in the basement of the museum is now a stand alone brick-and-mortar shop, and the player can even take on a part time job there. K.K. Slider, the bushy-browed busker is now a nightly DJ at Club LOL, and on Saturday nights, he trades his turntables in for an acoustic guitar. And he takes requests.

Online play allows for players to travel to friend’s towns to trade fruit and items and fish and hunt bugs together. Later in the game, two new islands open up to play on: a North American island and an International Island. Both islands are populated with players from other states and other countries, and the true beauty of is shown here as friendships can be made with the simple sharing of unique items or fruit. I’ve seen it happen.

My wife has a new friend in Saitama, Japan that she met on the International Island. They trade unique items and play together, learning each other’s language and the world at large just got a little bit smaller. You don’t play Animal Crossing; you live it.

So much is new in this game that Animal Crossing: New Leaf marks the greatest game-to-game leap in features and gameplay overhaul in the franchise’s history. I can go on and on about the new changes and additions, but really, I’d much rather be playing the game, so I will try to wrap this up.

If you are a fan of the series, you must own this game now. If you have never played the game, but own a Nintendo 3DS and are looking for a title that is relaxing and fun, with tons of customization options and thousands of items, bugs, fish, furniture pieces and everything else to collect, this is the game you’ve been waiting for.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is one of the best games I have ever played, and I’m just getting started. Nintendo has begun to give out free DLC content, like items and furniture, and retail-exclusive items from Best Buy show that the game can only get bigger and better. There are still so many things to do and see and playing for a month has only scratched the surface. I’m not playing Animal Crossing; I live it.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf was reviewed on Nintendo 3DS and was released on June 9, 2013.

Shop for Animal Crossing: New Leaf for a discounted price at

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review: Feels Like Home

TheHDRoom may be paid a small commission for any services or products ordered through select links on this page.