Animal Crossing 3DS
Tom Nook practices real estate and you're the mayor. Will that guy ever cut you a break?
Animal Crossing, released for GameCube in 2002, made a wonderful impact on the Nintendo community. It was, in so many ways, an excellent alternative to The Sims, but with soothing music, adorable characters, a village bustling with activity and free NES games. We'll always have fond memories switching on our virtual televisions to enjoy Excitebike and Donkey Kong.
Each new entry in the series went on to become a smash hit, but the DS edition, Animal Crossing: Wild World, was nothing short of a phenomenon, selling in excess of ten million copies worldwide.
It's this success Nintendo hopes to replicate with the latest sequel, Animal Crossing 3DS (title TBD). Although the game has no firm release date (2012), the publisher has revealed plenty of details, and we can already tell this charming title will easily consume hours, more like weeks and months, of personal time.
Similar to its predecessors, this carefree life simulation once again drops you into a town populated by anthropomorphic (and needy) animals. This time, though, you're more than a regular citizen. In fact, the game lets you step into the role of mayor, and it's your job to make the village a better place.
To that end, you're free to place benches and streetlamps while making other changes. Conversely, you can ignore day to day mayoral duties and focus on more pressing matters like catching bugs and watering flowers; the consequences for being a terrible mayor, if any, remain a mystery.
That said, and in the Animal Crossing tradition, we expect plenty of animals to approach you with problems. To help lighten the load, Nintendo plans to give you a clumsy yet sweet secretary, who appears to be a dog.
Outside of politics, you can spend your days enjoying other tasks. Go for a swim in the ocean or walk barefoot across the expanded beach, both of which are firsts in the Animal Crossing series.
While on the subject of the larger beach, the town as a whole is much bigger than in previous Animal Crossing games. In fact, there's a shopping mall across the train tracks.
In addition, there exist an even bigger variety of clothes, and now you have the option of swapping tops, bottoms and shoes. Even better, girls can wear pants, while boys can don skirts. You know, if they're into that.
This customization also extends to your house. Outside, you have the option of changing walls, fences and mail posts. Inside, feel free to rearrange the furniture. Want a train set or Ping-Pong table? Buy and then add these things instantly, or just place a clock on the wall; in regard to homes, it may be possible to live in a tent.
Also new is the ability to have furniture created at the shop, swapping out cushions (square pillows for heart-shaped ones) at will.
As for the many characters, you'll notice they come in all shapes and sizes. Squirrels are much smaller than bears, for instance; Nintendo hopes this switch will add more personality to each creature.
Moving on, the publisher has yet to reveal all the multiplayer options, but the game supports StreetPass, allowing users to exchange houses that serve as model homes, watched closely by new real estate agent, Tom Nook. Yes, the same Tom Nook that helped you purchase new digs in Animal Crossings past. He even wears a suit.
All of this makes Animal Crossing 3DS sound like one of the system's coolest games. You can get the most from being mayor, or plop down on a tree stump and watch friends pass by. Regardless of how you play, it should provide an engrossing experience that'll quickly become your virtual escape. Now all we need is that release date. Still waiting, Nintendo.