Animal Crossing: New Leaf Gameplay Preview (Nintendo 3DS) - Prima Games

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Gameplay Preview (Nintendo 3DS)

by Prima Games Staff

Animal Crossing is one of those franchises that grows on you.  At first, you’re not exactly thrilled about playing a light role-playing/task-completing adventure, but the more you get to know your villagers and broaden your presence within the Animal Crossing community, the more you really get to embrace it and find new ways to expand your experience.  This was certainly the case with previous releases for the game on the Nintendo GameCube and Wii systems, and no doubt it’ll repeat the process with New Leaf when it makes its 3DS debut this spring.

Like before, you’ll start your journey as just another member in a small village, filled with distinct animal and human characters that seem to work together side by side, though their personalities differ from one another.  After all, there’s no one like the guitar-strumming dog K.K. Slider.  But this time around, there’s a progression system, one that forces you to work your way up into better living standards, and making friends that help you broaden your place within the Animal Crossing world.

When you first begin your journey, you start in a tent, practically living out in a park.  But it’s not like you’re homeless, as you actually have things to do around the area.  It’s here that Animal Crossing opens up in a number of ways, with dozens of inhabitants to chat that give you stuff to do.  The better you perform within the game, the more your customization opens up.  Soon enough, your small living quarters become larger with the use of a house, and the ability to outfit it with all sorts of furniture and surroundings, ranging from a wooden clock to a bathtub to a ping pong table.  (And yes, if you prefer, you can put them all in the same room.  Feng shui, baby!)

In addition, things can change pretty much on the fly with your character, as you can also design them however you please, with either a more distinctive appearance, or perhaps someone who’s just off-beat, like a bear in a raincoat or something along those lines.  With the use of a graphic overhaul, you really see these details come together on the screen, so that surroundings and villagers stand out better than before.  Even in a 2D setting, you’ll be able to tell the difference.  And in 3D – well, suffice to say, the world definitely opens up for you.  From what we’ve seen, it’s a startling, yet not overwhelming, effect, one that should help those find comfort with the 3DS system.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf gives you plenty to do, between conversing with villagers, completing mini-game activities, rearranging stuff on your person and in your house, and even side duties, such as farming.  Granted, this isn’t an in-depth experience like, say, FarmVille, but you still get basics down enough that you’ll feel a sense of progress with your character, adding to the game’s replay value.

The game community isn’t just limited to offline AI-driven characters.  New Leaf will make use of Nintendo’s StreetPass, with “robust communication features” that will be put into place.  Though the publisher didn’t quite break down how these would be used just yet (it’s still a process in development), we’re guessing that you’ll be able to hand down messages and items to fellow users, and maybe even mini-game challenges, to see who’s the best in the community when it comes to getting things done.  And no, you won’t have to worry about installing some chatting device to talk with them, as you did with the Wii version.  The 3DS seems prepared for such a situation.

Perhaps the biggest dynamic that you can expect in Animal Crossing is passing seasons.  Over the course of spring, summer, fall and winter, you’ll see changes in your village, and not just to the extent of weather.  New villagers will come in to talk to, lakes that you’d normally fish in will be glazed over with ice only to thaw out again, and so on.  We have yet to see these changes in action, but they sound quite promising.  It’d be novel if Nintendo could figure out how to add in holiday events as well, in case people feel like passing Christmas messages to one another, or something along those lines.

But like all Animal Crossing games, New Leaf will be quite approachable for gamers of all ages and skill levels, with a simple approach to completing tasks, making friends (even K.K. Slider, that sly dog) and building your virtual collection.  The most dedicated fans will get mileage out of this game, but newcomers and 3DS owners will find plenty to enjoy as well.  And if Nintendo can put the StreetPass features into effect in just the right way, we’ll really be getting somewhere in this town.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf hits stores this spring for Nintendo 3DS.

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