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Feature: The Neutered Malevolence of Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Jon tries to drop the hammer but settles for waving a foam finger

This is the second part of our man Jon's personal Animal Crossing: New Leaf diary, which is part of a Nintendo-organised "Mayor Program". You can read all about how we came to be involved in this article, where we also explain our reasoning for participating. With that out of the way, let's see just why Jon can't have nice things.

Having ruled as mayor of my aptly named town of Trash for about two weeks now, I hoped to have achieved more. I’ve been unable to erect a statue of myself (yet), haven’t quite raked in the millions (yet), nor really made life for my animal citizens all that miserable (yet). Animal Crossing: New Leaf doesn’t allow me to abuse my power, reigning in my malevolent tendencies to mostly harmless shenanigans.

Sure, I’m probably a horrible mayor and one I still wouldn't recommend voting for: I don’t own shoes, an inordinate amount of my time is spent running away from bees and I’ve trapped every citizen at least once by digging them into a corner. That doesn’t stop them from smiling, and through cheerful attrition I’ve wanted to stop whacking them over the head with the butterfly catcher. For the most part. That’s still kind of fun.

My citizens all have wonderful character, and as someone new to Animal Crossing I’m impressed by their diversity and personality. Gabi is terribly neurotic and fears having fallen into a time loop when I talk to them too much, which always makes me chuckle. Fauna is a deer who pulls me aside between talk of apples and delivery requests to say our secret greeting (“blood”). I found a paper bag that belonged to Beardo, the hipster bear with a beard, and when I asked what was inside it he became skittish and refused to answer. Later on he asked me to stop digging up all the plants because he has come to love some of them. Sure he has. Suuure he has.

Being mayor grants you certain privileges, like being able to set town ordinances and set up collections for public works projects, which take forever to complete. Funding is limited at first, and between paying down my home loan to Tom Nook and purchasing a vast array of fancy hats it can take a while to get a project going. Nothing is cheap, either: an ordinance runs you a flat 20,000 bells to implement, and the least expensive public works project is double that. I managed to get a yellow bench built outside of my home. It took, like, a week.

Money has been so tight in these first couple of weeks that I finally set my first town ordinance — today, actually. I decreed that the town be a wealthy one so that we all will just be rolling in bells. (If only real life worked that way.) I could have chosen to make the town full of night owls (I presume not literally), early birds (sans worms) or spiffy clean. I chose not to make it clean as tidying up gives me something to do besides shake trees and solve high school drama-level disputes between the townsfolk, and also oh yeah I AM SUPER POOR.

Just getting my house built took a few days to scrounge up enough cash. The welcome party that greets you when you first arrive in town doesn't seem to care that their new leader is homeless, so there's no mayoral mansion fully furnished and waiting for you or anything. In fact, it takes a while for your trusty assistant Isabelle to even inform you that you need a house, and off you're sent to Tom Nook. This guy's reputation precedes him: I've not played another Animal Crossing but I am aware that he's supposed to be kind of a jerk, but here he's probably the only one willing to help you out. For a price, of course, and until you've paid the downpayment you will sleep in a tent and you will like it. Dozens of tree shakes, rock slams and bee attacks later, I scrounged up enough bells to not live like a hobo and had a place to put all my stuff. I've since upgraded my home, but the downpayment is close to 100,000 bells now and that'll take forever to repay.

Funnily enough, for a game so upbeat and harmless, being mayor of this quaint little critter town is probably one of the most stressful times I’ve ever had with a video game. A lot of that comes down to my own personality quirks and life experiences: I get antsy when not able to clear a bottleneck and am otherwise riddled with student loans, so the slow-paced debt simulator parts of New Leaf have a nasty habit of feeling a little too real sometimes.

The town is sprawling and I’m not crazy about how spread-out everything is. My home is near the beach and the orchard I planted but Re-Tail, one of the shops where I can unload my haul, is all the way on the other side of the map — to get money I need to make a lot of long trips that feel like a waste of time — and the town’s shopping district is in another direction entirely. There are three clusters where my citizens have set up homes, all far apart, and the beaches desperately need a connecting bridge. The government of Trash is currently collecting donations to help build a new bridge but citizens are super cheap about it. I guess that’s what you get with an apple-based economy.

New Leaf is slowly blossoming, though, and the more days I spend with it the more lively my town becomes. My population size has doubled, as has the size of my house, and there’s a little tropical island to the south to which I can hitch a ride and collect weird bugs. The island is where I got my first taste of swimming, which is an activity new to Animal Crossing. I don’t much care for being in the water; splashing about feels slow and clunky, and while it’s nice to not be totally landlocked I’m struggling to see why I would bother diving in. Perhaps with more time a reason will present itself and the jelly fish will stop attacking me.

Perhaps I can eventually throw someone else in the water? I'll break you yet, citizens.

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User Comments (32)



Midnight3DS said:

How many characters are available for the town name? Just curious because I may have to rethink 'Hooterville'. So far I've heard between 6 and 10.



theblackdragon said:

dammit, i'm slowly being persuaded to pick this up. i just hope it doesn't turn out to be boring like my experience with Wild World was after a while D:



bouncer0304 said:

Very excited for this. Only wish my old 3ds hadn't conked out because i can't justify trading in my new red 3ds which they swapped it with. It's 8 characters from what i've read so far.



Mowzle said:

Don't enjoy swimming? Found Wild World boring? Frankly, I think you're all just a bit overstimulated by games like Mario Kart (which makes me dizzy ).
That's the whole point of Animal Crossing, you just potter about gently, chuckle at the puns and peculiarities of your fellow inmates, and chill out. I will concede it is a bit like living in an open prison with all the rules and regulations, but you won't have a coronary, though your blood pressure may drop so much your veins clog up. I can't wait for mid June.



Ralizah said:

I haven't played an AC game since I was a kid, so this is perfect for me.



warlordovblood said:

I'm so ready for this one. Probably get the wife the animal crossing 3ds edition so we can both play this game together.



QBertFarnsworth said:

To be clear, you only get one town per cartridge/download, correct? It's not like the Gamecube version where you could save multiple towns per memory card, and then visit your friends town and take a cherry or two. I'll gladly play this with my wife and daughter, but I'm not sure I can justify buying the same game three times



bizcuthammer said:

I was never going to play this series again after City Folk... It seemed like it was stuck and City Folk had very little to offer in terms of new features compared to the previous games. I barely even played it because i also had Wild World, which while basically the same game, was portable and more convenient to play. New Leaf, though, has got my attention... The mayor feature looks like the addition i've always wanted, and the level of house/town/character customization is deeper than ever before. Animal Crossing is great on handhelds, too, and i love my 3DS, and always have it with me, so i can see myself playing this in small chunks throughout the day while i have downtime.



parutena said:

@QBertFarnsworth yeah it's just one town. Other people can share it with you but they can't be mayor.

Was also curious so I went over to Nintendo's ACNL site and saw it said that the money ordinance "increases the cost of new items." I hope that doesn't work in reverse to what Jon here wants.



Mowzle said:

Jon, maybe your citizens would contribute more readily to public works projects if their mayor stopped annoying them and trapping them behind a row of holes?



k8sMum said:


looks as if you may have gotten a wee bit of animal crossing karma there, lad!

look: instead of trying to rule the minions with blatant abuse, turn yourself into an AC Mogul: sell whatever you find, fish and sell the suckers, make the big $ and live the high life! that will give jealousy a chance to do what you cannot thru hole digging.



Datasun_7 said:

@Meteora I know right there is a massive amount of changes/ new features this time round soooo much content, this might last me longer than kid Icarus uprising D:



Klinny said:

According to the link Meteora posted, the Rich Village makes "items more expensive to buy and sell". So Jon should also be able to earn more money, assuming he doesn't buy too much XD

Also great article! Very funny and I'm looking forward to New Leaf more and more XD



Williaint said:

The last two weren't enough to keep my sister, a lover of the series, into it.
I just can't see myself getting it. I am more intrigued, however... and I would LOVE to hit some fat elephant named "Eli" over the head with a shovel...



Gioku said:

This sounds great! I love it when people try to play happy, lighthearted games this way! XD
Oh, that and you have just fully convinced me to get this game to keep me occupied this summer, and probably longer than that, too!



lanabanana said:

This article is very interesting ! Loved it .I already know what I'm gonna name my town & I'm setting the Wealthy Town ordinance. I also have a blog full of QR codes from Japan . Yup, I CAN'T WAIT !



grumblebuzzz said:

Am I the only one jealous that this guy gets to play it so early and yet doesn't seem to appreciate it that much?



Stumpweasel said:

@PORYGON Well of course you could but where's the fun in that...
It's your town, your tent, your rules (ordinances) well these last for a price. But ask yourself, is there enough room for a cupboard in the tent so you can store all your treasures?

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