Lots of people can’t wait to buy Animal Crossing: New Leaf when the game officially debuts on 3DS June 9, while others are hesitant because they feel it’s the same old thing. Living in a town populated with anthropomorphic animals hasn’t changed, but Nintendo wisely updated this title with a variety of features that make it unique.  If you’re on the proverbial fence, perhaps the following will convince you to give it a try.

You’re The Mayor

Although previous Animal Crossings provided varying levels of control, restrictions prevented you from having a huge impact.  New Leaf is the exact opposite.  You immediately become mayor of your new town, and making its citizens happy is key.  

Over time, you’ll enact public works projects.  Build a police station and place benches, street lights and bridges.  You can even make the shops open earlier if you prefer to play in the morning, or prevent trash from accumulating.  Doing this should easily bump your approval rating to 100 percent. Just be sure to visit the Town Hall to see what good you can do.

Custom Designs

Nintendo expanded this feature by allowing you to design patterns for furniture, flags and pillows; this also applies to clothes. You can even share your creations with others using QR codes.  The Nintendo community used a similar method exchanging custom levels in the 3DS puzzle game Pushmo, and we expect an even greater response. Keep in mind that Animal Crossing: New Leaf also has more furniture than its prequels.

Tom Nook: Real Estate Agent

Tom Nook was kind enough to give you a job in Animal Crossings past.  Now he’s moved on to real estate.  Visit Nook’s Homes on Main Street to get set up with a house following a 10,000 bell deposit.  From there, feel free to customize the exterior with new doors, fences and other goodies that Tom happily provides at different prices.

More Clothing Options

Characters are much taller, which means you’re free to mix and match a wider variety of clothing.  Long and short-sleeved shirts, shorts, long pants, socks and shoes are available in numerous colors and patterns.

New Buildings And Services

You’ll happen across new places to visit, chief among them Re-Tail, a shop that allows you to not only purchase items but also put them up for sale.  You’ll earn more bells for selling items on specific days, and there’s a great opportunity to sell turnips for profit.  In addition, there’s a Town Hall, a coffee shop, dance club and camp site that you’ll discover the longer you play. Wander beyond the train tracks and explore Main Street for a taste of what’s to come.

New Characters

Familiar faces Tom Nook and Mr. Resetti make a welcome reappearance, but you’ll run into plenty of new characters in New Leaf.  Timmy and Tommy Nook run Nooklings Store, while Reese heads up Re-Tail.  You never know whom you’ll meet on a day-to-day basis.

Tortimer Island

The original Animal Crossing for GameCube let gamers visit a tropical island.  This exciting place makes a welcome return in New Leaf, giving users the chance to enjoy a handful of mini games with friends. Purchase an island membership and be sure to purchase exclusive items at the souvenir shop. 

You Can Swim

Buy a wetsuit and go for a dip.  There appears to be quite a few surprises in store for new adventurers.  It seems like such a minor thing, but swimming extends the sense of fulfillment in the game.

Online Connectivity

Speaking of online, talk to Porter the monkey at the train station about opening the gate.  Doing this lets people visit your town and vice versa.  Up to four people can play the game locally and online.  Enhance the experience further by activating StreetPass and SpotPass, then visit Happy Home Showcase.  This allows you to visit other people’s homes for design inspiration and view Nintendo-designed homes, respectively.

Build the Dream Suite to visit towns from across the globe.  Do this randomly or specifically look up someone using his or her unique Town Pass Card.  Since it’s a “dream” version of the town, you’re free to make a huge mess.  The owner will never see or know what you did.

Spend Play Coins

Carrying your 3DS with you results in Play Coins you can use to buy fortune cookies.  Nintendo says you can then trade the fortunes for special items you can’t acquire anywhere else.

There’s plenty more to see and do in Animal Crossing: New Leaf.  Have a great time exploring.