Animal Crossing New Leaf is my game of the year so far. It sits above Bioshock infinite and The Last of Us for me and here is why. (Spoiler warning)
I never played Animal Crossing Wild World and only played the primitive Gamecube version. However, since its 3DS release late June, I have played this game constantly at least for an hour a day on the commute to and from work. This is a game similar to Dark souls and Monster Hunter and is only rewarding based on the effort put into it but without the difficulty curve.
The masterstroke of you being the Mayor in your own random map makes it all the more personal to you. You can mold the town to how you see fit. My town currently sits as an expensive place for purchasing and selling items and a very green place with lots of trees bearing fruits such as oranges, pears, coconuts, bananas and cherries. It is currently moderately developed with a TV screen, a water well, a fountain, a statue, fire pit as well as a tent area among other things; I am still working on developing the town further with a third bridge.
I am compelled to visit the town everyday to see what the shops have in store for me with their daily refresh of shoes, shirts, hats and furniture with some being Nintendo themed (the ultimate fan service). Not sure how Nintendo manage to make merchants such as Timmy and Tommy Nook seem so cute and adorable – who practically rob you with their prices. Also, my daily fruit picking (I have had many a strange look from fellow commuters) and fossil digging allows me to afford all the luxuries of making my house bigger and developing the town further. Not to mention chasing insects and going fishing to keep me occupied and making daily contributions to the museum.
The endearing and yet charming world is realized once you’re allowed to visit the small island. Here you are introduced to Kapp’n who takes you to the small holiday island in his boat singing a soulful song about life (a developer’s life lesson message). Some of the songs really do pull on your heartstrings and at one point I nearly welled up with tears in my eyes – and I can’t say that about many games I have played (Journey being one of them). Visiting the island is equally rewarding and hunting for rare insects and taking the fruit back home with you to grow and sell adds to the diversity. Furthermore, mini games are available, via the previously retired mayor that allow you to purchase items such as a Wetsuit.
The cheesy yet entertaining Dr Shrunk is another person to visit on a daily basis (after 7pm) give him a snack and he will tell you a joke. Which can be funny and also, a head in hand experience. Receiving letters and gifts from villagers and solving their micro problems passes the time as well – if only real life was this easy.
I feel I have only scratched the surface with this game and would like to see how the town develops in different seasons.
My only gripe is that the tools menu shouldn’t be part of your inventory as this limits your ability to carry items. All I can say is that I feel happy visiting the town on daily basis after a stressful day of real–life work and ultimately isn’t this why we play games in the first place? Nintendo, I salute you for a job well done!