It’s been a great vacation. On the summer solstice, it never got dark, even at midnight. On that day on the beach, I caught four sea bass and even a seahorse. With a net, I caught two large agrias butterflies, but I did get stung by a swarm of bees. Today, I traveled to a nearby island.
|ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW LEAF
(Nintendo for 3DS)
Replay Value: 9.5
Overall Score: 9.1Pros: Nearly endless variety of things to do. Characters have fun personalities. You get to be mayor.
Cons: Instructions aren’t always clear. Characters repeat themselves way too much. Friending should be easier.
Such are the wonders of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the constantly engaging simulation for the 3DS that’s great for everybody in the family.
You are the mayor of a town you get to name. You even get to create your own town’s song. My town is New York, and my song is the “New York, New York” anthem.
The town’s characters are all animals with big personalities. Blathers, a sleepy owl, oversees the museum, for instance. A monkey named Tammi is really peppy, and I think she said she is successful singer. But there are hundreds of characters here. Some are perfectly nice. Some are a little crazy.
In New Leaf, you don’t have money. You have bells. Bells can get you a lot of things, including a mortgage and payments on a new house. You have to work for your bells. But don’t worry. This work is total fun.
You get a net to capture critters like butterflies, dragonflies, mosquitoes and bees. Sometimes the bees sting you, so you have to be really quick with the net. I always seem to get stung. And on my first day, I captured a creepy tarantula.
SELLING AT RE-TAIL
Re-Tail is the store where you sell your stuff. I got 8,000 bells for that arachnid, one of the rarer beasts in my New York. You can also put stuff up for the flea market in Re-Tail. But the t-shirt I am selling isn’t getting much interest. I guess I have to reduce the price.
After a few days, you get a net to fish with. When you go down to the beach, you can fish for sea bass, mackerel, clown fishes and more. Around 4:30 p.m. each day, I found that the sharks come out, their fins moving scarily atop the waves.
I haven’t gotten a shark yet, and they’re worth a lot in the store. But the key to fishing is to press “A” as soon as your red-and-white bobber goes under water. Don’t wait. Do it right away!
After about a week in New York, you get to meet the former mayor, an old gabby tortoise. While he’s retired from the politics game, he’ll invite you his new job, overseeing a Caribbean-type island.
The ferry driver who gets you there is a weird bird, er, turtle. Kapp’n sings funny and sad songs, which are about everything from the tastiness of cucumbers and mayo to how to treat girls.
Once at the island, you’ll be treated to some steel-drum music. In a store, you find that the currency there isn’t a bell. It’s a medal. You can get medals for taking tours on the island.
The tours aren’t what you’d expect. They’re really mini games. One involves whacking a little robot with a hammer. Another involves finding and collecting flowers to put in a garden. They’re all timed, so you have to move quickly.
SOME FLAWS, BUT OVERALL A REAL WINNER
Here’s where I have a beef with the game instructions: You’re always urged to put anything in your pockets — like coconuts you’ve found while exploring — in the island’s bamboo box.
But one thing was really unclear. If I leave the island without buying items with the medals I’ve earned, my medals are still there. I actually feared I lost about 35 medals by going back to New York. Making some instructions so visible and repetitive and others harder to understand and find hurts part of a game that’s one of Nintendo’s better offerings this year.
I’m not a perfect mayor. When I missed a meeting with a voter, the angry resident let me know it and steam came out of his ears. I know that if I don’t please the voters, my approval rating will go down. So I’ll try to do better. In this case, the meeting just slipped my mind. I wish there was an app in the game that lets me know I have an appointment. But there isn’t.
Still, the charming wonders of New Leaf continue to keep me coming back for more every day. New things to do will become available for years to come. It’s that deep.
By keying friends’ codes, you can visit their towns, too. So who knows what new adventures await beyond New York? This summer, I aim to find out. You should, too, because despite a few flaws, Animal Crossing: New Leaf rarely fails to surprise.