Developer(s) – Nintendo EAD No 2 & Monolith Soft
Publisher – Nintendo
Director(s) – Isao Moro & Aya Kyogoku
Producer – Katsuya Eguchi
PEGI – 3
The Animal Crossing series is somewhat similar to Harvest Moon, involving the player character moving into a town, and living there, whilst performing various jobs to earn money in order to buy items from shops and to renovate their house. One major new addition to the series that comes with New Leaf is the gameplay feature of mayoral duties, whereby the player character can start out as the mayor of the town and perform duties to satisfy the town’s citizens. In my opinion, it all makes for a fairly decent gaming experience.
Graphics – 6.5/10
The franchise’s visuals rely heavily on cartoonist cel-shaded visuals, somewhat similar to the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The best thing I can point out about this game is how the player can customize how an in-game world can look. I think one of the best examples of that has to be Aika Village; a creepy little town portraying a very twisted back-story open to a lot of interpretation. So how a town looks in a game is subject to the player’s imagination, and by that logic, the game can present an infinite amount of ideas and intricacies from a conceptual point of view. Graphically, however, the game is a little bit simplistic in design, and I think by that token, it doesn’t make the game overly appealing in terms of visuals.
Gameplay – 6.5/10
I found that it did take some time for me to properly get into this game and enjoy it for what it was. I don’t think too much of games which leave players next to no idea of where to begin; indeed, I’ve had that problem with Minecraft as well as Terraria. But once I did get into it, I found it to be fairly enjoyable. In particular, I like the side quest involving digging up fossils from the ground and donating them to the local museum. It’s also pretty satisfying to catch fish and insects and raise as much money as possible; as well as gaining additional side quests from other NPCs throughout the game in the process whilst talking to them. The fact that players can also visit other player’s towns also offers even more in terms of gameplay I find, since it presents a very huge open world in that respect.
Controls – 10/10
In my opinion, the fact that Nintendo has incorporated such a control scheme is not just this game, but in the whole Animal Crossing franchise, would suggest to me that they would never have had any kind of problem in terms of controls, as the same control scheme had been employed in so many other Nintendo games over the years, including Pokémon and EarthBound. And from what I can dissect, there are no problems.
Lifespan – 10/10
As there is no fixed lifespan, players can spend as much time as possible on this game. It can potentially make for hundreds of hours of gameplay if players are immersed enough. This is an aspect that is found in many of the best video games ever developed, and that can only bode well for this title. I didn’t expect I would enjoy this game as much as I did, and this is one of many reasons why I did.
Storyline – N/A (10/10)
A rule of thumb that I have whilst reviewing video games is that they must never lose marks on something that they didn’t need to have. The most common aspect fitting this category is the story. Not every video game has a story, but a lot of these games never needed one in the first place. Examples of which I can think of are the likes of Tetris and Rollercoaster Tycoon. Animal Crossing: New Leaf doesn’t really have a story, but only a basic premise on which players can establish stories. But this game didn’t need any kind of fixed storyline to it, and it shouldn’t lose marks for not having one, as it does nothing to hinder the overall quality of the game.
Originality – 6/10
Though I think a lot of comparisons can be drawn with the Harvest Moon franchise, I think Animal Crossing overall is a fairly unique concept, and it’s all kept fresh in New Leaf with the introduction of so many new features in the series and how there would inevitably be so many different town designs from so many different people from around the world coming with the feature of being able to visit other people’s towns.
Overall, behind the cutesy and innocent exterior of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, there lies a thoroughly enjoyable game with tons of side quests, plenty of gameplay value and many other extracurricular activities to keep things interesting.