Animal Crossing: New Leaf Is Fun For Your Kids…& For You Too!

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Is Fun For Your Kids…& For You Too!

GC-review-animal-crossing-oct-2013Buy it for your kids, play it yourself. You might laugh now, but Animal Crossing: New Leaf is that addictive little title that may see you buying a second Nintendo 3DS XL just for you.

Here’s a little history: Animal Crossing was a unique little title from Nintendo, released in 2002 for the Nintendo Gamecube. It was a game where you travelled to a new town and started to set yourself up for life, finding a home, getting a job, and making friends with the residents who are–surprise–all anthropomorphized animals. The game itself took place in real time, so hours and days would pass in sync with the real world. Flowers grew, weeds flourished, and the bugs and fish you’d find changed with the time of day and the seasons that passed.

I was a tender 22 years old at the time, and found the time needed to get the most out of Animal Crossing was too much for me to keep at it for too long. My town was always dirty and worn when I’d return to it after months of neglect, making me feel bad enough… but the letters from my animal friends telling me they missed me were just flat out heartbreaking.

The problem with Animal Crossing was that you needed to find time to plunk down in front of the TV to boot it up, slowly loading your city to get a few minutes in here and there. Animal Crossing: New Leaf solves that problem with the power and the portability of the Nintendo 3DS XL.

That might sound a little pitchy, but this is a game I have been booting up every day, religiously, for over a month. Downloaded from the Nintendo eShop, it boots fast and loads fairly quickly; you need to load your save game each time… the upside to that is that you can have multiple saves on one 3DS, making it very family friendly.

Once you’re in, you’ll find gameplay similar to the Animal Crossing of 11 years ago, with a twist. On arrival in the new town you’ve been declared the mayor! It’s up to you to keep the town beautiful, to help it grow, and to make friends with your new neighbours. You’ll start with a tent as a home, and upgrade to larger and larger houses as you play–paying a mortgage off on each. While there’s no defined term on your mortgage it’s always more fun to have a bigger and better place, so the impetus to pay it off is there.

You can send letters, exchange gifts, and converse with your neighbours on a daily basis. You can go fishing, dig for fossils, shake trees for fruit, and smack rocks to try to find gems. You can water the flowers and pull weeds, or collect shells from the beach. The world of Animal Crossing: New Leaf is alive with things to do.

It’s also a lot more connected than the Animal Crossing of a decade ago. Using the Wi-Fi connection of the 3DS you can connect to the internet to download Spotpass data from other users near you; that means that you can see their houses, finding furniture that you’d like to buy and purchasing it from the in-game shop using in-game money (called Bells). Unlike a lot of other games right now there are no micro-transactions in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, so you don’t need to worry about your kids chalking up a few extra bucks on your credit card bill.

You can also visit other towns in real time–this might be one of the best reasons to get a 3DS and a copy of AC:NL yourself. You can play with your kids (or friends and other family) in their towns (or invite them to yours), fishing together, digging together, and just generally having a good time. Nintendo has put some smart restrictions in place, ensuring that you’re not opening your town up to just anyone, though you can do that if you’d like to too.

There are lots of other little delightful secrets to find in the game too. Talk to one character enough and she’ll unlock the ability to use the camera built into your 3DS to read QR codes, giving you access to more furniture and in-game outfits. Complete some other tasks and you’ll open up a ferry that will take you to an in-game island packed with fun mini-games–it’s also one of the best ways to get more of the in-game currency.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is rated E for Everyone, with the sole warning being Comic Mischief… some of your neighbours can be downright mischievous, but there’s nothing here that kids of any age should find objectionable. As always, taking the time to talk to your kids about what they’re playing, or in this case even playing with them, is a great way to make sure you’re on top of what they might need explained.

I’ve been playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf for over a month and I recommend it to everyone. The graphics aren’t photo-realistic, but they look great on the 3DS, with well-established 3D. The sound is wonderful, with some great samples and catchy tunes to play by. And the game loads fast and plays smoothly, without skipped frames or hiccups. You can find Animal Crossing: New Leaf in stores across Canada, and online through Nintendo’s eShop.

Graham Williams is a Canadian Tech Blogger and correspondent for GetConnected. You can follow him on Twitter at @thetechnogram

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