It's hard to write a review on for Animal Crossing: New Leaf (for the Nintendo 3DS), as the game really has no purpose. It is completely what you make of it. There's no princesses to save or bad guys to kill, it's just you, your neighbors, and your imagination. Unlike say, Super Mario Bros. or Assassin's Creed, no two players will have the exact same Animal Crossing experience. It's that uniqueness that makes Animal Crossing special.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (ACNL) is the fourth game in Nintendo's Animal Crossing series. Animal Crossing is best described as "a community simulation video game series, in which the player lives in a village inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, carrying out various activities. The series is notable for its open-ended gameplay and extensive use of the game systems' internal clock and calendar to simulate real passage of time." At its core, that's exactly what ACNL is. If you've played any of the previous games in the series, you know what you're in for. Though, at the same time, you really don't. You see, Animal Crossing: New Leaf throws a new twist into the series. In this game, you become the mayor of the village, replacing the now retired Mayor Tortimer from the first three games. On the surface, this move seemed to be nothing more than a gimmick, this game's 'hook' if you will. Thankfully, was I quite wrong in making that assumption. Taking on the role of mayor breathed just enough fresh air into a franchise that was starting to get a bit stale after the less than stellar Wii iteration, "Animal Crossing: City Folk."
Much like before, you'll spend the majority of your time tending to your quirky neighbors, expanding and decorating your home, collecting bugs and fish, and cultivating your flower garden. However, in your new role of mayor, you now get to make decisions that effect day-to-day life in your village. Should you renovate the museum or dedicate resources to building a fountain? What would your fellow villagers enjoy more, a coffee shop or a night club? Or perhaps both? Mind you, none of these decisions need to be made, they're just fun to do so.
And at the end of the day, that's what Animal Crossing: New Leaf is all about - fun. Good, clean, fun. Making mayor-type decisions? Fun. Taking the time to perfectly organize your house? Fun. Filling up your museum with fossils you dug up? Fun. Jumping online to visit the villages of your friends? Fun. It's a simple, passive fun, but a strangely addictive one all the same. Once you have started a game of Animal Crossing, you will find yourself coming back to it quite often. Sometimes for only 15 minutes, sometimes for 3 hours at a time. Each play session will be completely different but comfortably familiar at the same time. This is a title you will lose hours and hours of your life to, yet you will be strangely OK with that.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf has an MSRP of $34.99 and can be purchased from various retail outlets or directly from the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
Disclaimer: As a Nintendo Brand Ambassador, I am occasionally provided with products from Nintendo to review. A complimentary downloadable version of Animal Crossing New Leaf was provided for me to review. We purchased another copy of ACNL from the Nintendo eShop ($34.99) for Emily to experience and enjoy the world of Animal Crossing. The opinions expressed are all mine and not those of Brand About Town or Nintendo.