As of right now, I’ve clocked about 22 hours into Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Nintendo’s 3DS entry in the Animal Crossing series. I never played City Folk, and I recently had a bad experience with the DS entry, Wild World. It’s not that the game was outwardly bad, it’s just that the Nintendo DS wasn’t really capable of doing Animal Crossing. Wild World ran at a horrible framerate, which was playable, but not ideal. Now, Animal Crossing is by no means an action title, in fact it’s actually quite the opposite. This is a series built around relaxing– it’s about taking your time and enjoying yourself. Most of all, it’s about not overdoing it. Animal Crossing is at its best when you adhere to a dosage of around half an hour or so a day.
I downloaded New Leaf on launch day at midnight, eschewing a physical cartridge for the sake of convenience. Animal Crossing is a game that is best suited to this– truly a title that benefits from having it easily accessible at all times without the need of swapping a cartridge. The argument can be made about digital ownership and the inability to resell, but after spending a large amount of town creating my own narrative from my townspeople, why would I even want to let it go?
Having New Leaf on my 3DS at all times also keeps me actively playing it. When you have it right there on the home screen, ready to go, it’s hard to ignore it and at least check in. It’s easy to take a few minutes to pick some fruit or catch a few fish, or just wander around and see what the neighbors are up to. This makes for an absolute gem of a game, even if it’s really not that much of a game at all.
Animal Crossing has been one of my favorites for a long time, but like Pokemon, it doesn’t change that much between releases. Having skipped City Folk, jumping into New Leaf felt just right. I feel like I had spent enough time away that I was ready to spiral back into addiction. The result is that I’m liking this game as much as I liked it on GameCube, and that this is the best Animal Crossing has ever been. Aside from owing a lot of money to a raccoon, I’m having an absolute blast with it.
I’ve said before that my gaming habits are drifting more towards portable platforms. My 3DS and PS Vita get the most use out of any of my consoles. It’s a matter of convenience, mixed with the intimacy of laying on the couch and falling into these little worlds. I’m feeling more immersion from these systems, which are concentrating on delivering gaming experiences instead of trying to create cinematic masterpieces that ape the conventions of film. They are a place where games get to be games, and they have become my new favorite escape.