Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A quiet life in a cute little town

Hello, Dreamers!

This week I have something that doesn't really have much going for story but it is GREAT for killing time and relaxing, or obsess over, depending on how you approach it.

Let's talk about

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the latest of the Animal Crossing series; it is a game developed and published by Nintendo for the 3DS, 2DS and New 3DS and released all around the world on 2012 and 2013.

This game is all about the player's choices and actions.

It starts with the player on a train, on their way to a new town. Another passenger asks a few questions about them (such as a very well veiled gender question which in a subtle yet decisive way breaks gender images almost immediately), and eventually they arrive at the new town.

Upon arrival, however, they're welcomed by all the citizens and informed that they are the new mayor, no choice in the matter, and are given a chance to decide where their house will stand (for a loan to be repaid later).

And that's where everyone's shared experience ends.

New Leaf offers freedom in a way hardly any other game does. After the introduction and getting settled into the town, the player is free to do anything they want (to a point, of course).

Lovely view

You see, the Animal Crossing series is remarkable for how customizable pretty much everything is. From the town itself to the character, their clothes and the house they live in.

By collecting and selling items, the player earns Bells, the currency of the game, which can be in turn spent in clothes, furniture, decorations for the town, expansions for the player's house...

As the player befriends the other people in the town (all colourful and unique anthropomorphic animals), more content is unlocked: The general store expands and carries more items and tools to interact with the world, the clothing store's attendants allow the player to create their own clothes...

Players can create clothes and share them via codes like these.

Truly, the game can be as relaxing or as stressful as the player wants it to be. Want a perfect town where everyone is happy and plants bloom overnight? Want to design clothes to share online with other players? Want to collect fossils, insects and fish for the museum? Want to live a simple life and just spend the day fishing? Want to plant flowers all over town and breed new flower colours? There is certainly content for anyone and everyone that might be interested.

New Leaf uses the 3DS's inner clock and calendar, allowing for the passage of time to affect the town. Most expansions to buildings and houses will take until 6am of the next day, for instance; and some fish and bugs can only be captured during specific times of the year, at specifics of the day.

Fossils are found by digging, every day, all year round.
Not only are there effects on the kind of things you can find, but the game has events on certain days to keep things interesting, such as Festivale (A homage to the Carnival of Brazil), Father and Mother's day, April Fools... even the player's birthday, as well as the birthday of the neighbors in the town!

Most events will reward the player with unique items and furniture to decorate their home, which the player can expand to almost mansion levels of size, and are free to decorate as they see fit, or just clutter with anything and everything under the sun.

The player can also visit other player's towns, and see each others' homes!
Clothes are also not limited to whichever gender the player might've chosen at the start of the game. Truly, the only difference between genders is the face of the player's character, and even that can be changed after playing for a while.

If a player wants to wear dresses, pants, or anything else inbetween, the game is very accepting, with a few villagers even saying "Well, it's [current year], so if anyone isn't ok with other people wearing what they want, they should just deal with it!".

I have nothing but praise for this game, although I must admit if the player has a completionist streak, there is an awful lot of things to collect and unlock, so be wary for it can be a huge time sink if allowed.

Though having full furniture sets and a functional room is worth it
All in all, it is a great stress relief game, with no enemies or deadlines, no pressing matters and only the player's own goals to be done, perfect for anyone and everyone that wants a game with a slower pace.

To top it off, upon handing over fossils, art pieces, fish and/or insects to the museum, the player unlocks little blurbs that give some info on the real-life counterparts of the museum's contents, from whale sharks to fleas, from Cropolites to the Mona Lisa! Great for tangential learning about the real world!

If you have 20 minutes to spare in your daily routine, I recommend filling them with this game. You won't be disappointed!

Should you give it a try, let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a fantastic week!

Keep on dreaming!


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