An easy-going life-simulation game for escaping the real life
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a sweet and relaxed life-simulation game on the Nintendo 3DS handheld console. The game drops the player in the middle of a small town, whose residents are eagerly expecting their new mayor to arrive. The player is mistaken as the new mayor and starts their new career running the little town. New Leaf uses “real-time” that adds a fun, even harmonic, feature to the play. The time and season in the game reflect on the real world. The seasonal cycle of nature is visible in the game environment, introducing seasonal events and activities, such as mushroom hunting or snowman building. Anticipating the first snow can feel as exhilarating in-game as in the real world.
Animal Crossing New Leaf running on Nintendo 3DS console
There is no win condition in the game, and the player is free to enjoy their time as a mayor in multiple different ways. The main gameplay consists of building and furnishing your house, catching bugs, fishing, gardening and collecting enough Bells (money) to pay off your home mortgage. Bells can be gained from selling items you have collected in the game, such as fruits or fish. Apart from paying off your loan, the Bells can be spent on new clothes, haircuts, furniture or plants.
I have put ridiculously high numbers of hours into playing this game. However, this game has given me much in return. To me, New Leaf is a game that is immersive and relaxing, helping to reduce stress and calm the mind. The slow pacing of the play and freedom for “down-time” are in my opinion, great advantages of the game. However, some players might find these features tedious, making the game not their cup of tea. The gameplay can also get rather repetitive after a time and cause the player to get tired and drop the game for a while.
A screenshot of my character building a snowman
Animal Crossing New Leaf is a great game if you need to take your mind off the anxiety of the real world. I would recommend New Leaf to anyone who enjoyed easy-going games with creative freedom. New Leaf also tingles the nerves of true perfectionists. Furnishing your home with golden furniture, catching every bug in the game, collecting all the badges, or numerous other achievements can be great for those who thrive in the pursuit of completion. And for the future: there is a new Animal Crossing title to be released on Switch in March 2020: New Horizons. If New Horizons is even half as good as New Leaf has been, I will not think twice in taking a break from real life and diving into the new world of procrastination.
And if real-life birthday party doesn’t inspire, you can always celebrate in-game
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release date: 14.7.2013 in EU
Genres: Social Simulation
Banner picture © 2019 Nintendo