If you follow us on twitter you may have noticed that our Editor-At-Large, Jon Wahlgren, has in his enviable, clammy hands an English-language digital copy of Nintendo’s newest quaint life sim, Animal Crossing: New Leaf. In fact, a few dozen people have received early copies — not only the usual menagerie of gaming press faces but YouTubers and other prominent internet peeps — as part of a social media campaign that Nintendo is running to get people excited for the game’s release.
You may be wondering why Nintendo Life is participating: that’s a valid question, and one we want to be open with our readers about.
As part of the gaming media, Nintendo Life and its authors often have access to early copies of games for review. Some review copies come from PR companies as a part of the usual review cycle, others from indies who think that our readers would be interested in their title. With bigger companies, like Nintendo, there are often certain embargoes that come with review copies, such as not talking about what happens after a certain point in the game or a certain character’s motivations (which usually means something crazy happens afterwards).
It’s important to note that Nintendo Life is not obligated by anyone to review a game just because they sent us a copy, and we’d like to stress that our staff has never accepted payment from an entity other than Nintendo Life to do any sort of coverage at all. As you may be aware, Nintendo Life staffers aren’t actually paid at all – we’re masochists that way.
That isn’t to say that we only cover games of which we have received review copies. You can see at the bottom of every review whether a copy was provided and by whom, and in cases where that information isn’t provided it means that author purchased a copy themselves with their own cash.
So, from our perspective, receiving a game early is not out of the ordinary, and with Animal Crossing: New Leaf being as sprawling a game as it is it would be absolutely necessary to spend a great deal of time with it beforehand to have any semblance of an accurate assessment of its qualities — even if it meant a “late” review, which loyal readers of the site know can happen from time to time. As Nintendo tends to deliver review copies weeks before a game’s ship date, we would’ve most likely had access to Animal Crossing: New Leaf around now (or soon) anyway.
Nintendo’s PR company approached us last week to see if we were interested in participating in the program, and our editorial team talked it over and decided that we would likely have received an early copy anyway, but in this case we’re largely free of these embargoes and can pretty much talk about whatever we want until the game is released. That can be pretty rare, so it seemed like a good opportunity to cover the game in ways that we otherwise wouldn’t until after it shipped.
In order to keep Nintendo’s ad campaign separate from our normal, planned review coverage, Jon won’t be reviewing the game — that duty will fall to someone else on literally the other side of planet Earth — and what he’ll do won’t even pretend to be objective. It will be his experiences with the game told from his perspective. Heck, it might not even make a lot of sense. Sometimes he doesn’t, but we put up with him anyway.
Hopefully this clarifies why we’re taking part in what Nintendo obviously intends as an ad campaign, and we hope that you enjoy whatever dumb coverage we cook up for it. We greatly value the trust that you, dear readers, put in Nintendo Life to not lead you astray, and that’s why we felt the need to explain our involvement in this. We hope to do right by you with these Animal Crossing shenanigans.
Every week Jon will do a round-up on Nintendo Life of what’s going on in the unfortunately named town of Trash, and how he’s breaking the spirits of its citizens by randomly hitting them over the head with a butterfly catcher, and then we’ll have another staffer lay down the review law before the game's released. If you want to hear something specific about it, just ask and we’ll get our guy on the job. Of course, that is if he can tear himself away from playing with the sweet Blue Falcon in his tent. That wasn’t clever innuendo.
It's neat that you've cleared this up for everyone. Just goes to show why Nintendo Life is my favourite news site - as well as your brilliant articles, you're incredibly honest and trustworthy, and that's great to see.
It's an interesting campaign, I'll admit, although I'd made my decision to purchase this game a very long time ago
Cannot wait to get my hands on this!
Just makes me more angry about the fact that the game had been translated months ago and yet they still felt the need to delay the release even more so.
As a reader I appreciate the transparency, so thanks.
I'm absolutely loving it, even though I didn't actually enjoy the previous games that much. It maybe says more about how I've changed than how much the game has. It's addictive and I'm using it as relaxation between intense games. Only thing I've not been able to experiment with is the StreetPass features, but they sound interesting.
Since I might as well ask someone who has the game already; Diving - what's the deal? From trailers it just looks like you can dive to occasionally catch fish, but is there more to it than that, and does it work like regular fishing whereby you have to float over a shadow, or is it just completely random?
didnt really have to explain that but its cool that you did, inner workings of the site and all revealed! ;p
Cool, looking forward to the review and the game's release.
@Shugo - All I'm saying is that for a game that has had many delays from its original planned release date (which is fine as long as it's necessary), adding more than a seven month delay for the game to come to the West is a bit extreme considering it was intended as a worldwide release from the start.
I also doubt that much extensive testing would be needed simply for a translated version of the game, and not enough to fill seven months for that matter. I however wasn't aware that new content was being added to the Western version that isn't in the Japanese version - what exactly has been added?
Also thanks for the clarification on the diving mechanic.
I picked up Animal crossing on the Game Cube platform, and honestly I couldn't really get into it. It seemed like you just go around "do-gooding" by doing chores for people in exchange for modest upgrades and items. You've also got to pay off your house. Also if you didn't have friends to trade data with, you got stuck with the characters you started with in your town. I actually got more replay value out of it by unlocking several NES games using Action Replay codes, including the coveted Wario's Woods item. Sadly, Nintendo did away with retro game bonus content on Wii, or offered timed VC demos like in Smash Brothers Brawl. The changing seasons were a nice touch though. I finally bricked up my game file by planting a wall of cherry trees around my house and buried the hatchet in the junk yard. I came back six months later to an inpenetrable forest, making it impossible to get to Tom Nook's to buy a new hatchet. Pretty silly way to break the game! I ended up selling it a short time later...
@Geonjaha Pretty much as you've suggested but not always a shadow. Sometimes there's bubbles. Also, in Animal Crossing, jellyfish are the bees of the seas.
Heh. I was expecting the answer to the article headline to be: "Because we're awesome." but NL wrote a lot more than that
If you can get a game even earlier than usual, go for it! More power to you
I 'fondly' remember celebrating my new year's eve once on Animal Crossing DS. Fireworks made me cry. Spent more time on that game than most others combined. If I didn't already own a 3DS, I'd be picking one up just for this game!
I've no problem with Nintendo Life being a part of this program and I think you guys are handling it well by making everything clear in this statement for those who may doubt your integrity or at least the integrity of your upcoming review. You guys are awesome and I go to you "on the reg" for reviews of Nintendo games. You are one of the few sites to do timely and frequent reviews of eShop games and that is something I value. And lets face it, you are Nintendo fans. I imagine most of us that come to this site are big Nintendo fans as well. Your reviews are honest and informative. And the passion you guys have for games is evident. Keep up the good work!
Oh, and just because I'm cool with Jon getting his Animal Crossing early does not mean I'm not jealous as hell. lol
@Harrison_Peter You know, it is interesting how we can change as gamers. There are games or series that I used to love that I just can't get into anymore, and the opposite is true as well. I've at times found myself enjoying a game or a genre that I use to have not interest in. A good example would be JRPGs. I lived for them grown up. But in recent years, I've leaned more towards the Western developed RPGs (like the Elder Scrolls & Fallout series or Bioware games like Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire and the Mass Effect & Dragon Age or a game like Torchlight or The Witcher). I think maybe it is because Western RPGs tend to be more action heavy and often feature more player choice and customization and that appeals to me these days. I have mad respect & great feelings of nostalgia for the JRPGs of my youth... I just can't seem to get into them these days (the newer games... I find I can still replay the classics from time to time).
So anyway, I can totally relate to your Animal Crossing change of heart.
Can I ask, is this program for US journalists only?
I don't care what kind of coverage you do. I've put myself on Media Blackout for this game so I can discover everything for myself.
@StarDust tbh, the game cube 'city folk' version of ac is my least favourite. it seemed as if it would open the world up a lot from other versions, but there really wasn't much new content. the city part was poorly done, imo.
i am soooo looking forward to ac:nl as i think they've really gotten it right this time. i have read spoilers, but they just make me want this game more and more.
So all you lovely folks also have jobs where you are paid I take it? Well that makes sense, because this site is awful! lol I'm just messin'.
You people do a great job, and I'm sure everyone appreciates the coverage of their favorite gaming company as much as I do. There are some other Nintendo-centric websites out there, but I stick to this one because of the professionalism that the editors have and the respect they show the site frequenters whom make this place what it is. It's a great community to be a part of, and that is because of the people AND the editors.
Ah, good ole payola.
I'm getting more and more interested in this game, hmm, might have to pick it up
Anyways, thanks for clarifying guys, y'all are the best
I haven't been excited for a game like this in a long time. I'm pre ordering this right now.
@Nintendolife Can you guys do an article on what's involved with the online Multiplayer play? There doesn't seem to be alot of info on it. would be much appreciated thanks
My younger sister enjoyed the earlier games, more than I did (though, I did like the NES games). I think it was the sort of control you had over the town... Now that you are the mayor, you have more control... I probably won't get it, because I'm still more interested in Sim City.
I'm still intrigued by the game.
@Windy The multiplayer component is fun but not too deep so probably wouldn't warrant an entire article. Friends can visit your town, you can visit theirs, if they're best friends you can contact them in-game even if they aren't on your town (it's like texting each other). The StreetPass features are new. I've not been lucky enough to pass anyone with the game but basically you can see the homes (and avatars) of the people you've come across with StreetPass. You can even order stuff from their homes apparently (again, I haven't experienced this yet). There's an island you can play mini-games on. If you invite a friend to your town (or visit their town), then you can go to the island together and help each other complete the mini-games. All the usual multiplayer features are intact. You can trade items, or bring your own fruit to friend's towns to sell them for more as foreign fruit.
The game does feel a lot more social than previous entries, especially with the chatting feature with best friends who are online but don't have to be in your town. Personally, as cool as those features are, I actually think the dreaming is my favourite feature. Dreaming of a random strangers home can be really surprising and inspiring! Not as social as going to a friend's town, but it can be exciting!
The best thing about the game is that it's an experience, so I'm hoping the upcoming articles aren't really about features, but about Jon's adventures and the trouble he gets up to. Seeing the weird enjoyment someone else got from the game was what made me want it in the first place!
@Harrison_Peter Thank you so much! That little bit you wrote was more than enough Can't wait for the game and see some friends online I really like visiting peoples towns. Hope you can get as crazy in this like ACWW where you can edit tiles and change the look of your town. Great stuff
@Windy No worries As for tiles etc, you can do even more stuff like that now, but I won't mention much more because it's better to discover all those little things yourself. I just wanted to mention the big features, but it's the small details that are fun and surprising as you play it yourself.
Thanks for being honest about it guys, it makes the site more enjoyable for everyone and says a lot about where your priorities lie.
As many fond memories as I have of the original game the fact that its the first really shows, it was also originally an N64 game so theres that. The series is all about doing your own thing so its kinda like Harvest Moon but without the pressure of having to get things done.
Not trying to convince you to like it all I'm saying is the first game might not be a good starting point anymore, its like judging the current Pokemon games after starting with red and blue/green.
Nice 'non' innuendo at the end there. Brought a moment of scrubs to mind...
Nurse: Todd, I'm sick of all your innuendo.
Todd: 'In your endo'
All these games this summer is going to make it difficult for me to get a new capture device for the Wii U. xD
Couldn't stay into City Folk very long, no clue why...but I think the series is better off as a handheld game for me. (it was the same story with Mario Kart)
@Erica_Hartmann Totally agree about Animal Crossing being more suited, and better even, on Nintendo's handheld. I enjoy Mario Kart on both home and handheld consoles equally though. They are just straight up fun kart racers. Online play was made for those games (obviously not really, but racers are so much fun in multiplayer mode, and online accommodates those who don't have another person around them all the time). Hopefully the Mario Kart U makes some strides forward for the series. Mario Kart 7 is great, but the additions were pretty basic.
Can it just be June already? Want my AniCrossing fix.
well, at least he's not hitting them over the head with the shovel!...
Looking forward to reading about the silly things Jon gets up to in his town.
New Leaf comes out two days after I leave for Colombia, so I won't be able to play it until I get back. These articles will help keep me entertained though
@StarDust - "bricking the game?"
Nice try but there's a very easy solution - you simply boot up the game, create / select a different character (who lives in a different house), grab the hatchet--
Unless you are saying the cherry trees were so dense you walled off the neighborhood, which I'm not sure is possible. But even in that case you could start a new town on a separate memory card, and travel to the first town and chop down the trees.
@k8sMum - the version of Animal Crossing on Game Cube was not City Folk, you must be mistaken!
どうぶつの森 - N64 (basically the GameCube Animal Crossing with a few less features)
Animal Crossing - GameCube
Animal Crossing: Wild World - DS
Animal Crossing: City Folk - Wii
Animal Crossing: New Leaf - 3DS
I played Animal Crossing Wild World for 18 months solid. Having no ability to connect with others on WiFi, I bought a second DS and game card so I could "visit" between my two towns and advance the gameplay that way - its a teeny bit difficult controlling two separate cards at the same time on one's own, but it did the trick. This time linking with "friends" on the 3DS will be a piece of cake.
I don't think there was any hour out of the 24 that I didn't play, just to listen to the music. I loved wandering around my town in the wee small hours fishing and spacing out on the tunes that play then. I recently revived my towns briefly to get back in the swing of things. Pure escapist bliss!
I can't wait for New Leaf and all the new experiences mixed with the old familiar ones. Only problem is it won't be easy just advancing the time on the 3DS to play the 3am shift at 11pm in real time - or maybe Jon will be able to answer that one.
This is good.
Because after the overrated review of Fire Emblem, I have my doubts.
@Optimist_Prime yep, i was mistaken. City Folk was, of course, on the Wii. i may have blocked it out because i was disappointed in it, lol.
@k8sMum - haha, well you have every right to be disappointed! Especially if the GameCube AC was your introduction to the series. Personally I found City Folk to be an aimless rehash; while I can appreciate the graphical improvements I ultimately felt some charm was lost. So I stick to the Game Cube.
@Mowzle I feel ya. Wild World was where I got my social "fix" (hint: I was a geek with few friends and I lived in a place in the middle of nowhere a.k.a Darwin) and I enjoyed the hourly soundtrack, fell in love with Mitzi, and all in all, had a blast.
I hope New Leaf captures and adds onto that quiet, personal experience.
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