(Before we start, you’ve probably all heard that the XBox One is changing basically everything we hated about it. Again, I will not be touching on this subject, so I suggest reading more about it here.)
This is a review I am both excited about…and dreading. Where do I even start?
I should warn you that there will be spoilers in this post, even though there really isn’t much to spoil. But just in case you don’t want to know exactly what all the unlock-able stuff is and so on…SPOILER ALERT!
To make things easier, I’m going to assume you have all played Animal Crossing (if you haven’t, you should!). Exciting thing number one: the train station is back! Which is great, because I hated the bus stop. I don’t know why. Maybe the train feels classier? Anyway. You go through the whole process of introducing yourself to Rover (who makes a joke about spending too much time on buses–a joke that is probably only funny if you have played all of the Animal Crossing games). Exciting thing number two: when you tell him the name of your town, he lets you pick it’s layout! That was pretty cool. I picked layout #3, so some of what I have to say will be specific to that one.
Welcome, Mayor! Wait–what?
You arrive in town and surprise! you’re the mayor and no one told you (you find out how that happened later). (Note: If you are sharing a 3DS with someone else in your household, you can either create a new town or move into the town the first person created. If you go with the latter, you will not become mayor. You’ll just be a regular person with no responsibility. There are perks to being mayor and there are drawbacks. There are fewer drawbacks to being mayor, though, if you have another player living in your town. I’ll get to that.)
Once you’re mayor, you go through the same schtick as all the other games–buy a house, pay off the loan, expand on the house, pay off more loans, etc. Except this time, you build a home. The house itself is the same as the house you would buy at the beginning of the other games, except you have to wait an extra day to actually see the house (in the meantime, you’re living in a tent). The difference here: you get to pick exactly which spot you want your house to sit on. Unless that spot has a rock or another building on it. Still, it’s pretty nice! He won’t start building the house until you’ve paid the 10,000 bell down-payment, though, so get on that.
On to being mayor! As mayor, you get a secretary named Isabelle (or that’s her name in my game–let me know if it’s different for you!). She’s a really cute poodle-like dog thing. She basically does everything so you don’t have to (I’d feel bad for her if she were real). As mayor, you get to do things like Public Works Projects and Town Ordinances. The PWPs are things you get to build around town–fountains, wells, benches, lights, clocks, and a whole list of other things. Because the museum is considered a public building, you have to approve renovating it. So it’s pretty cool. The downside: the money for these projects comes directly from your pocket. No one else helps. See…Isabelle sets up gyroids that take donations ranging from about 32,000 bells to 249,000 bells (so far, that’s my highest). This is why being mayor is easier when you have multiple players living in the same town–all players can contribute evenly, which also means there is more money to go around for more projects.
You also get to pick generally where it goes–as long as it’s not close to anything else, including pavement (which is really annoying, but I’ll roll with it). Before you begin Public Works Projects, you have to have a 100% approval rating from the townsfolk, which is so easy to get. I thought it would take way more time. All you really need to do is talk to them and stuff. And Isabelle is there to help you the whole way, offering tons of advice on how to win the people over. Do what she says and you’ll be fine. (I’m not sure why she isn’t mayor.)
Ordinances cost 20,000 bells to enact, but you can cancel them for free. You cannot stack them, though, so choose wisely (or just do what I did and play with them until you’re happy). I have mine set to “Early Bird Town” because I like that everyone has to get up at the same time that I do. I hate waiting for stores to open. 😛 If you prefer to play late, though, there is a “Night Owl” Ordinance that will force shops (and residents) to remain available later at night. There is also a “Beautiful Town” and a “Wealthy Town” Ordinance. I didn’t play with those ones much. Beautiful Town didn’t seem to do much and Wealthy Town didn’t feel like it did much. It increases the amount of bells you get from selling an item…but it also increases the prices of the items you buy (except remodeling your home). So, meh. Early Bird suits me fine. 😀
Now…the Island. This is where Mayor Tortimer (the mayor from previous games) went for his retirement. One day, he’ll show up and tell you all about the Island and invite you to visit. After that, a boat and captain will be sitting by the dock every day. You can go to the Island as many times as you like, which really surprised me. The thing about the Island is that it’s always summer. It costs 1000 bells to visit…but it’s so worth it. If you want to pay off your house quickly so you can concentrate on improving the town, the Island is the way to do it. They have so many rare fish and insects–when I get back from the Island, my stuff usually sells anywhere from 25,000 to 100,000 bells…and more often than not it’s closer to 100,000. Do that a few times a day and you’re set.
You can take up to 40 items back home by putting them in this box:
And then pulling them out of this box:
(They really don’t pay well, so don’t bother selling anything to this chick.)
The Island has a shop where you can buy beach-y items, but they take medals instead of bells. They explain how to get medals when you first arrive on the Island, so pay attention to that.
This is also where you will first learn how to swim, which isn’t very hard. You need a scuba suit, which you can buy at the shop for about 40 medals. Once bought, you can swim back at home, too!
The only drawback to going to the Island is that you have to listen to the “Kapp’n” sing a song all the way there and all the way back. You can’t skip it and you can’t make it go faster and it feels like it lasts forever. So worth it, though. Oh! And remember that you cannot save while you are on the Island.
Good-bye, Mr. Resetti
Speaking of not saving–that stupid mole guy, Mr. Resetti, who comes up to scream at you for not saving? GONE! He’ll come back once and give you this long good-bye speech, but that’s the last you’ll ever see of him. Now whenever you don’t save, Isabelle just gives you a gentle reminder and moves on. It’s so nice. So far, I’ve forgotten to save about three times (How does that even happen? This is the only game where I ever forget to save) and none of my data has disappeared. So we’re good.
You may recall that in City Folk, the big exciting thing was that you get to go into the city for all your shopping needs. That got pretty old pretty fast, though, didn’t it? In this game, you have Main Street, which is where the shops, the museum, the comedy club–everything except the recycling shop–is located. It’s right there in town, just above the train station. Way easier to get to and everything is together, in one convenient location that you don’t have to constantly hunt for.
Tom Nook now owns Nook’s Homes and the store is run by two young racoons, Timmy and Tommy, who I can only assume are Nook’s sons. Nook’s Homes lets you customize your house in so many news ways, from adding new rooms on the main floor to changing the house siding and fencing. I’ve heard that you can also decorate the outside of your home, but I haven’t figured out how. I assume you have to complete your home’s expansion before that becomes an option.
Something I did find frustrating is that the types of tools Timmy and Tommy sell change once a week instead of once a day. I don’t recall it ever being difficult to get enough bells to buy tools, so that seemed unnecessary. They also no longer sell gardening stuff–after a few days in town, a gardening shop will open. It’s run by this cute sloth guy. 😀
Re-Tail is is the recycling shop. If you don’t want to have to go up into town to sell your wares, just go to Re-Tail. If you don’t like the prices (or you want them to hold something for you), you can put an item on their floor to be sold to someone. This is also a good way of giving items to friends who are visiting or who already live in your town.
Cyrus and Reese run Re-Tail, but you won’t meet Cyrus for at least a week or two because he’s constantly sleeping (you can try to wake him up, but Reese will yell at you). Once you meet, though, he will open up his workshop and redo any furniture you’re unhappy with.
I never use it, but the encyclopedia is my favorite thing about New Leaf. Because of this:
I donate everything to the Museum before I sell it. With the new encyclopedia, I now know immediately if I have donated something or not. When that phrase pops up on the screen, I know it’s a new item and the first place I need to go is the Museum. No more, “Did I donate this? Better check with Blathers just to make sure.” Nope! What a time-saver!
Let’s talk about how the game play on the 3DS compares to non-portable consoles.
It’s far superior.
The controls make way more sense on the 3DS, especially with the touch screen. It’s easier to select and use items and, if you’re TV is as far away from your couch as mine is, it’s also easier to see certain items (like mosquitoes). Typing and creating patterns at Abel’s have both been vastly improved through the use of the touch screen. And the microphone is right there on the device, so playing with friends has improved. Because you have two screens, your map is always open, which is so nice when you first start playing and you’re not sure where anything is. The only thing I wish they would do is let you keep your pockets open on the bottom screen while you run around.
I also really like that you can change your camera angle and look at things around you–including your home.
It makes the aquarium more exciting.
After playing this game on the 3DS, I can’t imagine trying to play it on another device. Handhelds just make way more sense for Animal Crossing.
Overall, I’ll give this game a 9.5 out of 10, for finding a way to improve Animal Crossing in so many ways while still keeping everything I originally loved about it. In this game, even the smallest of changes has a huge impact on game play. Bravo, Nintendo.
(One thing I realized about the 3DS while writing this review: it comes with a 4GB SD card. When you take pictures in a game by pressing R+L, the pictures are automatically saved to the card. All I had to do was drag and drop to my computer! Amazing! I’m sure Zach told me about this feature before we bought it, but I forgot. Still impressed, though!)