So, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is out now in Japan, released on 8th November. Once we got over the irritation of discovering that we were a day late, we thought we'd look at what we know so far, point you to previous articles that have stacks of information, compile some nice gameplay footage and look at the reaction to the game in Japan. We don't give this treatment to many games that arrive in Japan long before the West, but we're also aware — through various statistics — that this particular game is one of the most popular amongst the Nintendo Life community. When it comes to AC, it seems, we all want to know more and start playing this game, well, yesterday.
New Leaf, in many ways, will deliver a similar experience to its predecessors, which will no doubt be absolutely fine with fans of the franchise. It will also have plenty of new areas to explore, with a dizzying array of stores and even a raccoon housing project — because even raccoons need somewhere to stay. The most notable addition is your status as mayor of the village, which will give you power to manage village features such as bridges and benches, while there'll be enough customisation to absorb a worrying number of hours. You can see some of that in action in the most recent trailer from Nintendo of America, below.
Wi-Fi will play a big part, as would be expected of this series' début on 3DS, which will allow players to visit each other's homes and villages. StreetPass and SpotPass will also be included, with the exchange of badges earned in game, while ac3DSblog.com, which has been following the release in Japan, has reported that Wi-Fi spots in local 7 Eleven stores will use SpotPass to deliver themed furniture to the game. Whether commercial, albeit free, DLC is a good or bad thing is up to individuals to decide.
There are a huge number of small touches, of course, such as more detailed customisation of a character's appearance, the ability to go swimming and a variety of environmental features, with familiar examples such as a rainbow in the sky after rain and balloons that deliver presents. The whimsy is truly in overload.
Nintendo itself, of course, gave a detailed Nintendo Direct broadcast dedicated to this game in October, which revealed a lot of features and showed them in action. You can watch the lengthy video below and, most importantly, read our detailed summary of the broadcast from our man in Japan, Jeremy Thain.
The one high-profile review score so far, meanwhile, is an almost perfect 39/40 from Famitsu. Though some interesting review scores from the publication in recent years mean some will take that score with a few grains of salt, it's still a high-profile endorsement that says this isn't a disappointment. It wouldn't surprise us if Animal Crossing: New Leaf is sitting at the top of the Japanese video game charts next week, and it'll also be worth seeing whether download sales from the eShop play a major role. This is certainly a game where quick, easy access on a daily basis will be genuinely valuable.
Gamers in Japan are rather busy playing this right now, we suspect, though the rest of us will need to wait until early 2013. Let's all hope that a confirmed release date is given soon.