Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Review

Author: Mattia "Zave" Ravanelli
Date: 2020-07-30 22:22:55
Almost an exact month is the time allowed by Nintendo to try Animal Crossing: New Leaf, so you can discover the fourth edition of what, on its debut (in 2002 on GameCube), was defined by Takashi Tezuka as a "communicative game ". An extended window of time, as rarely happens when a so-called "reviewable code" is provided for a video game, but Animal Crossing is not an experience like a thousand others. When the wave, not too long, of indignation moved against what were called "non-games", it was the heyday of the Brain Training DS and the Wii Fit Wii, Animal Crossing also found itself in the crosshairs purists, determined to define according to unwritten rules what differentiates a video game as classically understood from a more difficult experience to pigeonhole. Which is, precisely, Animal Crossing. The experiment wanted and promoted especially by the right arm of a life of Shigeru Miyamoto, the Tezuka above, has now blown out more than ten candles on the last cake and the success can be said to be complete. Through four editions he has collected and will gather around him, also thanks to New Leaf, a world of enthusiasts and casual players ready to live in his parallel universe months of explorations and collections, of improbable chatter and of under-the-counter sales of first goods, second and third needs. The world of Animal Crossing moves in unison, but in a radically different way, with that "out there": every minute counts as a minute, every season follows what happens outside the window, even inside your own small village . In short, a month is a minimum and reasonable period of time to be able to sink your teeth significantly in a game that tries, in a subtle way, to change and become more current and dynamic.

Since I settled in the helm of my town (Sbroffa) in the first days of May, many things have happened, none of which can revolutionize the landscape, the rhythm or the habits of the population. Because even Animal Crossing: New Leaf is like this, a sort of Zen garden in which to get lost and at whose rhythm let yourself be lulled, in a sort of habitual dream, in which to move your steps apparently in total freedom, yet always within the limits precise and well-known recipes developed and refined over the years by the development team. Yet despite first impressions, New Leaf is the chapter that, more than any other before him, tries to change. It does so subtly, in a way that initially seems almost imperceptible, but the outcome is assured and guaranteed. Certainly the rules of engagement and the prerogatives do not change: the player is still, always and in any case, given the possibility of creating a small alternative life in a virtual world made of relaxation and movements in rhythm. Yet the objectives to be pursued, the rewards that await those who reach them and the mechanisms to be set in motion to obtain them exist, today more than yesterday.

Joy, light-heartedness, cheerfulness, debts, mortgages, threatening letters, tournaments, quarrels, prizes, spells, Animal Crossing.

Beyond the fence that marks the fence prepared by Nintendo, those who decide to move to Animal Crossing: New Leaf find a greater freedom of movement and decision-making than in the past. To create their own experience is the player, or at least this is the illusion that New Leaf cleverly manages to convey. There are no levels to complete, princesses to save, bosses to eliminate or conclusive scenes to attend: progress comes in the form of an ever richer fish album, a collection of insects donated to the particularly extensive museum, an expansion as landlord of his own home, of a continuous enrichment of city resources, of a walk-in closet that, day after day, takes on the dimensions of a small state. For those who have already played an Animal Crossing chapter before today, it is easy to find themselves perfectly at ease in this new version, even as mayor. But it is precisely the powers of the mayor and the alternation between Tortimer (first citizen of all the previous episodes) and the player to give a slight but decisive turn to the pace of the game.

The possibility of deciding how to intervene on the urban carpet through the construction of new public works adds stakes, objectives to be successfully archived as soon as possible, giving the right sensation of being able to influence the personalization of one's city in a more decisive way. And, moreover, providing goals to be cut, day after day, which manage to sweep away some of the dust that had accumulated over the years on the Tezuka project. Today more than ever, in Animal Crossing it is true that there is always something to do. That they are new trees to be planted and whose growth to follow in order to be able to reap the fruits as soon as possible or the fluctuation in the cost of turnips that transforms Sbroffa (and any other town) into an improvised Piazza Affari. Whether it is the collection of signatures to allow the LOL Club to open its doors or a delicious dish to bring to its manager outside the show hours, to attend private gags. And if you want to focus on fundraising for the police station, or maybe on the cafeteria, if you want to give the city a lighthouse, or instead devote yourself to the recovery and identification of assorted paintings and works of art, squinting to find out if Volpolo is trimming one or a single piece ... well, it's up to the player to decide it.