There is no game as passive and relaxing as Animal Crossing. The Animal Crossing franchise has quite an interesting history. The first Animal Crossing game released as Dōbutsu no Mori, Animal Forest, on the N64 in 2001. At the time, it was one of the first games to run in real-time. The game was given an updated release on the Gamecube, where it launched for international audiences as Animal Crossing. At that point, history was set in stone. Animal Crossing is hard to review, but I figured I’d have to give it the best I can.
You, yes you, are the brand new mayor of town. At least, that’s what the mayor-be-gone’s secretary, Isabelle, is telling you. Well, if you were coming here anyway, you might as well enjoy the status. The local landlord raccoon is offering to build a home on loan with no interest or due date. You’re now the mayor of TOWN. Enjoy your stay, and solve these weird animals’ problems.
Animal Crossing has very simple gameplay. You go around, talking to adorable animals, and solve the problems facing your town. You can take part in activities like catching bugs and digging up fossils. Your enjoyment of these tasks comes down to the type of entertainment you’re looking for. If you want something adorable that will keep your mind off of what’s bothering you, you can’t get more perfect than Animal Crossing.
The Town Square serves are your hub for shopping and other activities. You can visit the local museum, the Able Sisters shop, or even Timmy and Tommy’s small shack of a shop. As you purchase items, and donate to the museum, you’ll upgrade existing shops and unlock new ones. Shampoodle, a hair salon allowing you to change your look, will move in right above the Able Sisters. Kicks will be your one-stop shop for making your feet look fresh. There’s a real sense of something to work for.
You can purchase fortune cookies from the shops run by Timmy and Tommy Nook. They’ll cost you two playcoins, and give you a chance to win some iconic Nintendo items! Most of the time, you’ll win a Nintendo-themed prize. You’ll never go empty-handed, as you’ll always receive some item for your trouble. The fortune cookies are probably my favorite element of New Leaf.
Shopping isn’t the only side activity you can partake in. Every once in a while, a competition will be held for a day in your town. Fishing, and bug catching, tournaments are quite the commonality in the spring. Sometimes you’ll be asked to bring in a specific type of bug, or fish, and sometimes you’re just looking for the biggest.
After a while, you’ll be contacted by ex-mayor Tortimer to join him on his private island. The island features all sorts of new items, bugs, fish, and fruits for you to collect and bring back home. Your bells won’t be good on the island, so you’ll need to partake in island tours to earn medals. They’re drastically different too! Sometimes you’ll be navigating a maze, and others you’ll be digging up gems!
Animal Crossing New Leaf adds a brand new layer on top of everything. As the mayor, you can enact town ordinances, build public works projects, and change the town tune. Public works projects can be as simple as a bench, or as complicated as a cafe. Certain shops, and hotspots, are only available as public works projects you must fund. Animals in your village will request certain public works projects as you build your relationship with them. I really love this element of the game. It’s a good excuse to drown your money after paying off all of your debts with Tom Nook.
At your leisure, you can invite up to three friends to join you in your exploits! Each player is required to own their own copy of New Leaf, and there are quite a few limitations, but multiplayer can still be a great time! You can trade rare fruits and fossils with each other to help fill out your collections. I didn’t get to utilize this feature much, but I had so much fun when I did.
In 2016, an expansion was released for free titled Animal Crossing New Leaf: Welcome Amiibo. The Welcome Amiibo update commemorated the release of Animal Crossing amiibo cards and figures. It added a ton of new content for you to check out! You could now find Wisp in a lamp around your town. If you touch an amiibo after talking to Wisp, you can invite villagers to your town or campground! The update even included new villagers for Ganon, Epona, and some other iconic Nintendo animals!
Animal Crossing New Leaf has served me well for seven long years. I have countless memories, and experiences, stored in my head that I look back fondly on. I can’t find myself recommending New Leaf in the modern-day. It’s just too outdated compared to what Animal Crossing: New Horizon’s offers. If this review has inspired you to check the franchise out, I recommend looking at whatever the latest entry is first.
Animal Crossing joined Super Smash Bros. in its fourth installment on the Wii U and 3DS. Villager was the first newcomer announced for the landmark title. They used familiar Animal Crossing scenery as a way to fake people into expecting a new game on Wii U, and not another Smash Bros. game. The Animal Crossing franchise is well represented in Smash. Two fighters, three stages, a good number of spirits, and quite the number of relaxing music tracks.
I can’t think of a better moveset that you could give Villager. They’re a bit of a blank slate, but Smash uses this to its advantage. Villager does a great job taking the few “weapons” of Animal Crossing and throwing them into a fighting game environment. There are even a few references to other Nintendo IP, like Balloon Fight in his recovery, and they’re all so detailed! Their final Smash calls upon Tom Nook to build their dream home. Quite the novel reference.
Isabelle is one of Smash’s fabled “semi-clones.” She is heavily based upon Villager’s existing moveset, but also has quite the number of differences to make her playstyle unique. The most notable of her exclusive tools, the fishing rod, and gyroid, allows you to grab an opponent from halfway across the stage and set a mine for your enemy to trigger. There isn’t a lot of material you could’ve given Isabelle to differentiate her. I can’t really say that I have a problem with how she was handled.