Hands-on impressions of Animal Crossing: New Leaf for 3DS

Animal Crossing: New Leaf hits retail shelves and the eShop on June 9th, just a couple weeks away. I?ve spent a fair amount of time with a review copy of the game and wanted to get some information out there for fans anticipating the release. Of course if you?re a fan of the series you?ve probably been eating up info left and right, but here?s a bit more to whet your appetite.

New Leaf features a number of changes to the standard Animal Crossing formula. You?ll still be creating a town from scratch, naming both that and your human character before entering the world for the first time. But as soon as you step off of the train you?ll be introduced to current inhabitants, who greet you as the new Mayor.

animal_crossing_new_leaf_5As Mayor, you?ll have some actual responsibilities to attend to, giving greater weight to the happiness of the animal residents. The title also gives you some added control, like the ability to set ordinances, which can cause shops and townfolk to be available later or earlier, or an option to keep your town clean and free of nuisances like weeds.

There are also Public Works projects, which can add new items or conveniences to your town. These range from small items like park benches and clocks, to larger scale projects like new bridges, a campsite, or a fountain. Both ordinances and public works projects will cost you some bells to complete, but serve as two huge additions to the game.

animal_crossing_new_leaf_3Other elements have been streamlined, like the standard tutorial that most Animal Crossing fans are going to be familiar with. When you arrive in town you?re no longer pestered to start working for Tom Nook to pay off your initial house deposit. Instead you?ll be greeted by the townfolk up front, and given a tent to stay the night in while your house is constructed. You?ll still need to pay it off, of course, but how you do that is up to you.

If you?re new to the series there is still some semblance of a tutorial tucked away in the chat menu with Isabelle, who serves as a liaison in the Mayor?s Office, available day and night. She?ll give you hints on what you should be working on or doing next, and introduces you to most of the basic mechanics like letter writing, digging up fossils, and fishing.

animal_crossing_new_leaf_10Another change is that Tom Nook?s shop isn?t the only business available to sell and buy at. Located in town is Re-tail, a hybrid shop/flea market. Here you can sell any items you find, with daily specials on particular items that will up their re-sell value. You can also check prices on (or sell) turnips, and purchase other items that locals have put on the display at the shop. You can even sell your items in this fashion, giving your residents the option to come in and buy whether you?re present or not. Bells will get deposited directly into your savings account, once again accessible through the ATM at the Post Office.

There?s certainly a lot more to talk about with Animal Crossing: New Leaf, including the redesigned city hub where most of the shops are located, or the online play available via The Island, but we?ll delve into both soon enough. Also, look for the full review of Animal Crossing: New Leaf once the embargo lifts on June 4th.