This past week has been awful. Worse than stepping on a Lego, worse than dropping your ice cream on the sidewalk, worse than half your team in a ranked LoL match disconnecting, this past week outright stank. Whenever I am down in the dumps, I have always turned to video games to soothe my wrecked brain, preferably something handheld. Typically, I’d immediately grab the latest Pokemon, curl up in bed, and dedicate myself solely to finishing the story and then breeding for the elusive shiny. Unfortunately, the current version are the remakes Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Truth be told, I never finished Sapphire for the Gameboy Advance because I just hated the game. I love the new look and mechanics introduced in X and Y, but playing ORAS feels like a complete grind. No, I needed something else.
I found a number of 3DS games on sale at the end of last year, mostly during Black Friday. One of these titles had to have what I was looking for. One right after another, I briefly tried them all. I’ll write about those experiences later, but for now, one in particular fit the bill: Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
I had never tried an Animal Crossing, but knew of its addicting nature. I even have the GameCube version hiding somewhere, unopened from my negligence. When I visited a convention in Atlanta over a year ago, New Leaf was all the rage. Almost everyone I tagged (and I did tag hundreds of people) had this as their current game. I didn’t want to get into another time devouring series, but I was curious. With the latest catalyst, I couldn’t resist anymore. It was just what I needed.
There was a pang in my chest as I was greeted by the friendly cat named Rover. I established my character, set up my town, and down the rabbit hole I went. An unexpected part of my gamer lizard brain kicked in, begging the question, “What is this currency worth?” I suddenly understood the addiction and the game’s popularity. It’s just like all of these farming and city creation games I get sucked into, but without the whiny demands of microtransactions. On top of that, there’s way more to do, far more personality in the characters and surroundings, and I don’t need a constant connection to the internet to enjoy it. Just today, we experienced a brief blackout. The darkness was like a warm blanket as I continued to hunt for feathers during Festivale.
The main drawback for this game is that it can feel tedious after a while. Doing certain tasks can take more patience than I have to spare, and that’s without the actual waiting. Purists opposed to altering the game’s clock (something I unabashedly abuse) might find the real-time waiting for events and new items in shops to be a little too… real. Everything in the game runs on a schedule. Some events only happen once a year. I honestly feel that if I weren’t a rule breaking Time Lord, I would really grow resentful of this game quickly. I’m starting to enjoy it more as I see more progress and development of my town, but it was definitely a slow start.
If you already have a 3DS but not this game, or if you plan on getting a 3DS (old or new) in the next few days, consider picking up Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Don’t overestimate its direct entertainment value, as it won’t just feed you the action right away. Don’t underestimate its ability to suck you in for hours at a time, because you will be surprised by its power to absorb you into your own. Be prepared for a very cute game with its own quirks and personality.