Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a welcome return to the world of unabashed materialism that should entice veterans and novices alike.
- Interesting mayoral powers
- Quirky cast of characters
- Tons of different customization options
- Lots of new additions.
- Endlessly repeating dialogue
- Clumsy user interface.
There's a party in Pancako, and everyone's invited. In the southeast corner of the city, where the river cascades to the ocean below, the citizens gather in joyous revelry. Flip wears his finest clothes for the occasion--a blue sweater vest with no pants--while Isabella commands the rapt attention of the eager townsfolk. For the past week, the city has been taking donations for a public works project that promises to elevate Pancako from a forgettable stop along a winding train route to a burgeoning metropolis replete with eye-catching architecture and bountiful entertainment. After the mayor gives a brief speech, the animals cheer, streamers fly into the air, and the commemoration is complete for this glorious addition to the city: a yellow bench.
In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, there is no success too small to celebrate. The townsfolk happily congregate whenever a lamppost or scarecrow is erected, never showing a hint of irony as they welcome a new landmark into their town. Letters flood your mailbox, pouring out prodigious thanks for the common pear or ordinary seashell you sent to your anthropomorphic neighbors. And that happiness isn't limited to your friendly animal companions, either. Their unrestrained yearning for material goods and basic relationships is infectious. Just try to withhold a smile when you snag an endangered coelacanth from the icy depths or receive a silver fishing rod from Celeste. New Leaf transcends its simplistic nature to offer a deceptively absorbing and rewarding experience.
Free from the shackles of ordinary home life, you set off to a far-away town in search of a new beginning. Relaxation is action in New Leaf. You walk through the bustling hamlet, visiting stores and talking to citizens as you unwind from the daily grind. When you first fire up the game, you must name the town and choose the general layout, and you continue making important decisions when you settle in at your own address. Through mistaken identity, you're granted mayoral status, and the citizens willingly prop you up to be their leader as they follow your every utterance. No mere puppet, you shape the town as you see fit. Ordinances shift the behavior of the populace, demanding that stores adjust their hours to meet your needs or that everyone sprout a green thumb to keep the town looking beautiful. Only one ordinance can be accepted at a time, so choose wisely; the cost to shift is high enough to discourage indecisiveness.
Laws are but one way in which your actions impact the town. Not only are you in charge of the landscaping, but as mayor, you decide which public works projects to construct. These include signs, fences, and fire hydrants, along with larger structures such as bridges and fountains. Build enough, and more options are open to you. Once you complete a few yellow benches, for instance, you can start churning out metal benches, if you so desire, and certain store owners even request renovations. The museum curator, Blathers, may plead for a second story to be added on to the museum, but only if you've proven that you're willing to pour money into the city.
In theory, these projects are supposed to be citywide endeavors. Once you decide where to erect these structures, a gyroid is placed there, asking for donations from the citizenry. Unfortunately you are forced to bear the brunt of the cost. The cheap animals who populate the town may throw a few hundred bells into the pool, but you have to fork over tens (and sometimes hundreds) of thousands of bells to make up the difference. It's hard, costly work being a mayor. And even after you pour more than a million bells into improvement, the animals still demand more. When you visit your town secretary, Isabella, she tells you what people are saying behind your back. More likely than not, they want more public works projects, even though they refuse to part with their precious bells to help out. If only there were a way to tax these lazy beggars.
As a result, much of your time New Leaf is spent trying to earn more money to meet your construction needs. Digging fossils from the ground and striking rocks to earn bells and precious gems is an easy way to make a quick buck, but you're going to have to put on your hunting hat if you want to reap serious rewards. Rare fish and bugs are worth a pretty penny, so your fishing rod and butterfly net are the quickest ways to move from rags to riches. You can clean out nearby rivers and oceans if you want, and shake trees to find creepy crawlies that have hidden away, but if you want to earn the most bells, you need to travel to an island paradise.
Day and night, Kapp'n sits at the dock, waiting to ferry you to the island. For 1,000 bells, he not only transports you, but serenades you as well. His rhyming songs are often ludicrous, with the delightful imagery of iced tea being used to cool hot feet and other such goofiness, which makes the long voyage delightful. Once on shore, you can roam the beach in search of pricey fish (including sharks!), or nab terrifying insects resting in the trees. If you have entomophobia, watch out, because some of those beetles are downright nasty looking. But they do fetch a good price, so you're likely to earn more than 100K in just a short trip to this vacation resort.