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NWR Staff's Favorite 10 Games of 2013

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

by Tom Malina - December 26, 2013, 3:05 pm EST

What is big, round and consumes your life? That's right: the world of Animal Crossing.

So slow, so deliberately aimless… and so very addictive. The relentless draw of Animal Crossing: New Leaf almost defies logic; for many, it was the fourth time they had plundered the depths of this supposedly-iterative life simulation franchise, yet it serves as a lot of people’s most-played Nintendo 3DS game by a considerable margin.

How has the game accomplished this feat? To the credit of the aptly-titled New Leaf, it took the series in a significant new direction of increased potential for interaction with the world and greater choice for what the player could do. It may not sound like an especially radical change, but placing the player in the role of town mayor suddenly opened up a host of possibilities for carving out a unique identity for themselves – not only in how they could shape the look of their own game world, but also in how they chose to go about that.

Want to be a Bell hoarder? Or an interior decoration specialist? Or a public works creator? Or a collection completionist? More than ever, Animal Crossing: New Leaf allowed the freedom for any or all of this, and it gave players the power to really impact the development of their town in major ways. What’s even more impressive is that the game manages this whilst intentionally keeping its systems and inner workings a secret. In most videogames, such opaque objectives and progression would be maddening, but with New Leaf, it is pulled off perfectly, to offer up that pure feeling of discovery when something unexpected happens, like a new shop in Main Street, or a surprise visit from an out-of-town animal.

Add this ‘play at your own pace’ mentality to the year-round calendar of events, many of which have been subtly altered from previous titles in the series, and you have a winning combination of evolving game elements to keep you coming back again and again. In essence, New Leaf enables the player to create and grow a distinct town through whatever means they want. Meanwhile, the wealth of sharing features, whether it is the online play, the Dream Suite, the Happy Home Academy or even the ease of distributing in-game photos through social media, allows for the propagation of everybody’s creations, providing a constant feedback loop as each individual player gleams inspiration for their own game.

For its enduring presence on 3DS since launching in the summer, Animal Crossing: New Leaf earns a well-deserved spot in our top 10 of 2013, and it will occupy us for months to come. After all I, for one, will see in the New Year in the town of Jabbawok, the place I brought to life over the last six months. What will you do on New Year’s Eve?


Leo13December 26, 2013

Want to play Pikmin 3, but lack a Wii U? $219 on newegg.com http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=0PW-003J-00002
This sale has been going on since last week I just got mine the other day.

sisibakbakDecember 29, 2013

I bought it a few days ago and just finished the main set of levels. Absolutely adoring it, fantastic use of the GamePad and there's a crap ton to do. Has to be my GOTY (though, I haven't played a great deal of new games this year including 3D World so it's a bit of an easy choice really).

Vrgin XJanuary 01, 2014

Team Plasma is so 2011, Team Flare is where it's at, son.  8)

Pixelated PixiesJanuary 02, 2014

I'm going to post my top games of the year here, lest I forget. It's been a slow year in terms of gaming for me, so I can only muster excitement for the following 5 games.

1-The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
2-Fire Emblem: Awakening
3- Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
4-Steamworld: Dig

I also had some fun with the following notable mentions, but couldn't quite bring myself to put them on my 'top' list.

-Animal Crossing: New Leaf
-Pokémon Y
-Mario and Donkey Kong - Minis on the Move

I have also played a few hours of Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends and Super Mario 3D World, which all seem awesome, but not being a Wii U owner has meant I haven't spent as much time with those games as they probably deserve.

KhushrenadaJanuary 02, 2014

Oh ho! Nice. I thought the last spot might end up going to the Wonderful 101. Not sure what kind of support the game might have with staff. However, I can't argue with the choice of the 3DS's 6th jewel this year. Often not as appreciated as the main 5 of the year LM, FA, AC, PY/PX and ALBW, I'm glad it was not forgotten and regarded so highly.

Leo13January 02, 2014

I agree AND disagree with Khushrenada. I agree that I expected Wonderful 101 on here somewhere, but I disagree on justification. I'm honestly shocked that it's not on here. I'd say there's no argument that it should be above Shin Megami Tensi and Ace Attorney.

Pixelated PixiesJanuary 02, 2014

"Much like Grand Theft Auto V..." is not a statement I ever thought I'd see used in reference to an Ace Attorney game.

KhushrenadaJanuary 02, 2014

Quote from: Leo13

I agree AND disagree with Khushrenada.

How dare you! You had it right in the first bit. Never second guess your first instinct.

Leo13January 03, 2014

You really think BOTH of those deserve to be over Wonderful 101?
I was listening to the Official Nintendo Magazine Podcast this morning and they did their Nintendo 2013 top ten and W101 was #1

Pixelated PixiesJanuary 03, 2014

Quote from: Leo13

I was listening to the Official Nintendo Magazine Podcast this morning and they did their Nintendo 2013 top ten and W101 was #1

...Good for them?

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