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Even better than Wild World
on 3 December 2013
I was a huge fan of Wild World so bought the New Leaf XL bundle the day it came out - and now, months later, I'm buying a second copy of this game... that should tell you just how much fun this is.
Well, I say "game". I think of it more as a virtual holiday cottage. I'll explain.
Perhaps you want to build the perfect house, full of things that say just who you are - there are literally hundreds of items of collectable furniture. I've unlocked over 500 myself and am still going - and that's not including clothes. Now you've furnished your ideal holiday home, you can swim, dig for dinosaur fossils, fish, catch butterflies, make snowmen in winter, take a boat to a tropical island to play minigames... there is something do do whether you have minutes or hours (and believe me, I've put in the hours).
But the thing about New Leaf - drawback or plus, depending on how you like your gaming - is it's SLOOOOOW. There's lots to do - gardening, minigames, shopping, fishing - but it's real time, and I mean *real* time. You can only make snowmen in winter, and winter is exactly when it is in real life (northern hemisphere, I should point out). Shops are shut at night, although if you're a night owl like me you can tweak the opening hours a bit. I think this just adds to the realism, and gives you a reason to come back to the game - every month brings new bugs and fish to catch, and new game events to collect items from. A lot of the game features take time to unlock, but it makes it feel more like a living, developing community.
And unlike a lot of the "casual" gardening games on Facebook, for example, there are no severe penalties to not playing, other than missing possible items in shops or special events. The worst that can happen if you put it down for a couple of weeks (I had to send my 3DS to Nintendo to have water damage repair, so I had to leave my town to fend for itself for a while) is having to replant your flowerbeds and a bad case of bed hair, which a trip to Shampoodle will soon sort out.
The other big drawback, and the reason I'm buying a cart to go with my download version, is that while you get four "people" in your town, only one gets to be mayor, and you get only one town. I've literally enjoyed it so much I want a second town!
So yes - to sum up, it's not a game as such, and it's not for those who want the "instant fix". If you want to shoot stuff and jump around, other games are for you. But if you've had a hard day at work and have got stuck on the latest level of your latest jumping/shooting game, after a stressful day, you might want to just unwind on the sofa, find the best spot for your new Moai head and then do a little fishing.
P.S. Don't get the official game guide. It's full of misprints, doesn't actually list the purchase prices for items and they aren't in alphabetical order so a pain to find. It's useful in some ways, but you don't need it.