Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Nintendo's Animal Crossing series is somewhat of a tough sell because it strays outside the video game norm that involves shooting monsters, racing sports cars and solving puzzles. Inevitably, some folks simply won't get it, as was the case with the original GameCube version in 2001. Imagine a college senior gushing about living with anthropomorphic animals, only to watch dumbfounded as friends scratched their heads and left to play something with guns and swords. It was basically PaRappa the Rapper all over again; I received plenty of confused stares over that one too.
Fast-forward 10 years later and the Animal Crossing franchise managed to endure, with New Leaf for 3DS arriving June 9. It's admittedly easy to dismiss it since the game follows a similar premise, but you'd do this at your own ignorance. Old favorites Tom Nook and Mr. Resetti return, but Nintendo injected this title with so much content it more than justifies the $34.99 price.
Most importantly, you have a purpose as mayor of a small town filled with a variety of strange and at times endearing personalities. It's your job to make everyone happy while at the same time customizing like never before, whether that means building a police station or placing benches and lamps. You can even have shops open earlier or close later depending on your preferred time of day. The game doesn't force you to do these things, but taking on this new role adds significant value that didn't exist in the franchise; good luck getting a 100 percent approval rating.
Beyond that, you'll find a wealth of new features and things to do. Maybe you'll visit a tropical island and go for a swim, or dance the night away at Club LOL while DJ KK brings the place down with a fun mix of beats. From there, go shopping on Main Street and buy/sell items at Re-Tail, one of several new stores; perhaps you'll even get a job working in a coffee shop.
If you get lonely, New Leaf comes with a full suite of online features that support local and online play. Up to four people can enjoy mini games on Tortimer Island or just wander around town, while the new Happy Home Showcase lets you visit other players' towns providing you enable StreePass. Check out the new Dream Suite feature, and you can check out other towns from around the world.
It's enough to satisfy both longtime fans and newcomers to Nintendo's charming franchise. New Leaf doesn't necessarily play like other games, but that's why we appreciate it. Whereas other titles assault the senses with over-the-top action sequences, this one provides a welcome escape. Cherish it.
Review code provided by Nintendo.
What's Hot:Traditional Animal Crossing experience mixed with a variety of new features, adorable characters, online connectivity.
What's Not:Still no NES games from the GameCube version.